paper trail

Julian Lucas on Teju Cole’s new novel; Jewish Currents seeks reader questions on Israel/Palestine

Teju Cole. Photo: Martin Lengemann

Jewish Currents is seeking reader questions about the situation in Israel/Palestine for an explainer piece that will be reported on a rolling basis over the coming weeks. 

At The Nation, read an excerpt from Dan Sinykin’s Big Fiction about the invention of the term “literary fiction” some four decades ago: “Under newly intense economic pressure, publishers used it to describe less overtly market-driven work; booksellers described their shops as featuring literary fiction—or not; and book reviewers held it up as a standard to aspire to.”

In his New Yorker review of Teju Cole’s new novel Tremor, Julian Lucas discusses the book as “autofiction with the ambition of a systems novel.” Cole’s narrator Tunde, an artist and Harvard professor, worries “over various moral problems—art restitution, the portrayal of the dead, artificial intelligence” that “converge on a dilemma that bedevils both him and his creator: Is there a way to represent the world and not ‘cannibalize the lives of others’?”

Frequent Bookforum contributor Sasha Frere-Jones’ memoir Earlier is out today. A section of the memoir written in the style of Joe Brainard’s I Remember has been published at the New York Review of Books: “I remember our pastor looming above me with his strawberry face and hissing at me about liking music more than the Bible and me saying ‘Eat a bug’ and running downstairs to play pool.”

The shortlist for this year’s Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction has been announced, and includes Jennifer Homans’ Mr. B, a biography of the choreographer and “father of American ballet” George Balanchine.