paper trail

Namwali Serpell on the predictive powers of science fiction; Mik Awake on the problem with owning books

Namwali Serpell. Photo: Peg Korpinski

At Popula, Mik Awake reflects on the inherent disappointment of “owning many books.” After finally purchasing his own copy of The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, a book that he had checked out from his high school library over and over, Awake writes that he instantly felt he had made a mistake. “Owning it could not recapture the electricity of that reading experience, nor deepen my personal claim,” he writes. “Instead of my past, these books only conjure visions of the inevitable future, of the day when I will be dead, and someone else is burdened with the task of executing my will and dismantling the fortress of books separating my body from the world.”

“Stories are one of our oldest technologies. They let us have vivid experiences — beautiful, moving ones, but also horrifying, dark ones — and then close the book, or the laptop, unscathed,” writes The Old Drift author Namwali Serpell on the predictive powers of science fiction. “They give us a kind of perverse pleasure in reverse: not of seeing the worst come true, but of seeing the worst without it coming true.”

At Granta, Alan Trotter and Daisy Johnson discuss tension, storytelling, and their new books.

Kathryn Davis, John Lanchester, T Kira Madden, Namwali Serpell, and Bryan Washington all participate in Lit Hub’s monthly questionnaire. If Lanchester weren’t a writer, he would like to be a “constitutional monarch of a rich, stable democracy with strong privacy laws,” while Madden would design “magic tricks and stage illusions.”

Simon & Schuster is publishing Howard Stern’s first book in over two decades. “F*#k Hemingway!” Stern said in a statement about Come Again, which hits shelves in May. “I put my heart and soul into this book and could not be more proud of it.”