As the press notes (for once) correctly emphasize, Joshua Cohen is the perfect age to write a novel about the Facebook era, having lived approximately an even number of years on either side of the pre-Web/post-Web divide. He gets "kids these days" and partakes of their Net-fueled narcissism, owning it in a way that earlier writers never could, but he has the erudition and historical grounding of a much older man, equally at home with Python code, Yiddish poets, porn sites, and prehistorical fertility sculptures.
Ottessa Moshfegh’s narrators exhibit a curious combination of extreme moral nihilism and a desperate need for violent, unforgettable experiences. Eileen, her new and best novel, is a love story told by a young woman who doesn’t understand love and who is leaving behind the only man she really loves,
The writer Barry Hannah used to say that even though Bob Dylan can’t sing, he has the desperation of not being able to sing, which is better than being Glen Campbell, who can sing. Of course, there’s something patronizing here: Even if Dylan can’t sing, he can do a lot of other things well.
Claudia Rankine's Citizen is an anatomy of American racism in the new millennium, a slender, musical book that arrives with the force of a thunderclap. In the most powerful passages, Rankine reports from the site of her own body, detailing the racist comments she's been subjected to, the "jokes," the judgments.
We now see a new kind of migration: that of the cosmopolitan, the emigrant, the exile pushed out into the world, spreading away from the imperial center. The protagonists begin in the metropoles and often end up in the provinces. Consummate insiders—bankers, lawyers, doctors, professors—they find themselves on the outside. In a state of seemingly endless movement, this new figure finds him- or herself a perennial stranger.
Much of Rachel Cusk's work seeks to describe scenes objectively, and both the benefits and limits of that objectivity are visible in Outline. Cusk's restraint, while elegant, also comes across as withholding.
Joshua Ferris's fiction reverses the daily grind—characters wake up at the office and gradually wind their way home, to a place they wouldn't have recognized at the beginning of the day. His novels are meditations on labor and alienation in contemporary America, stocked with characters for whom life is a disease at once mediated, ameliorated, and worsened by work.
Emily Gould bolted to local media fame seven years ago as a Gawker blogger. She wrote scathing posts about writers, celebrities, and anyone else who happened to come in for online scrutiny on a given day. She was funny. She was reckless. She was really good at being really mean. She was twentysomething and photogenic, and when she appeared on CNN, Jimmy Kimmel told her she had a decent chance of going to hell.
Everything Pasolini did, he did as a poet. But what was it, precisely, that Pasolini did? What Pasolini was thinking about is what now makes him seem—like so many products of the radical '60s and '70s—slightly dusty, as if from a time capsule. The deep aim of all his writing was as messy and outdated as utopia.
Nineteen years ago, at the age of twenty-six, the much-lauded Taiwanese novelist Qiu Miaojin killed herself. At the time of her death she was living in Paris, leading a lively and queer intellectual life very much like the narrator of her 161-page epistolary novel, Last Words from Montmartre. The sensational quality of the book's content in relation to its seeming parallels with Qiu Miaojin's life is an inextricable part of reading it.