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Sam Lipsyte on the art of fiction; The upcoming Tournament of Books

Sam Lipsyte

The Morning News is getting ready for its annual literary competition the Tournament of Books, in which a group of critics pit books directly against each other, with the winners moving ahead, bracket-style, until the final book is left standing. Competitions start in March, but the eighteen finalists that will compete, along with the judges, are listed here.

The Paris Review has posted an entertaining and insightful Art of Fiction interview with Sam Lipsyte, author of the novels The Ask (2010) and Hark (which will be published in January). “I failed a lot. As a kid I experienced a sense of failure about many things, whether it was sports or even certain academic pursuits. I got shitty grades in every subject but English and history. And I see so much that is fascinating in failure.”

France has recently seen a series of protests by the gilets jaunes, a leaderless group whose members are furious with the ways the government has mistreated and abandoned them. At the New Yorker, Alexadra Schwartz interviews Édouard Louis, whose novel The End of Eddy follows a young gay man living in a region that itself has been deeply neglected by the French government. Louis, who attended a recent gilets jaunes protest, is unhappy with the ways that the group has been treated: “Something about the extreme violence and class contempt that is being unleashed on this movement paralyzes me.”

Notorious button-pusher Michel Houellebecq, author of Submission and The Elementary Particles, claims that Trump is “one of the best American presidents.”

In a pre-emptive deal, Morrow paid seven figures for Kate Russell’s debut novel, My Dark Vanessa, which is narrated by a fifteen-year-old who has an affair with her middle-aged English teacher. The novel, which according to the publisher is “a Lolita story for the #MeToo era,” has already sold in twenty-two countries. The book is scheduled to be released in 2020. In other book news, Penguin Press has bought the rights to Thomas Meyer’s biography of Hannah Arendt.