paper trail

Tracy O’Neill reads tonight in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Tracy O’Neill

Drawing on Carole Angier’s forthcoming biography, The Guardian’s Donna Ferguson speculates on what inspired Sebald to write novels “saturated with despair,” the lasting trauma of the holocaust, and suicide. Novels such as The Rings of Saturn and Austerlitz, Angier suggests, became Sebald’s means of grappling with his authoritarian father, a German soldier who fought in World War II. The realization that his father fought in Hitler’s army, and that his parents had benefited from the Nazis, caused Sebald long periods of depression, even breakdowns. Angier suggests that one particular breakdown was pivotal in his writing career: “It is then that he begins to write literary fiction. He fills his characters with his own despair.”

Italian author, publisher, and translator Roberto Calasso has died. Geoff Dyer has called him “a giant of world literature.” In her obituary for the New York Times, Alexandra Alter noted of Calasso: “His writing defied easy categorization, ranging from his first and only novel, The Impure Fool, to his reflections on ancient human consciousness, his study of the 18th-century Venetian artist Giambattista Tiepolo, a book about Franz Kafka, books about Vedic philosophy and Indian mythology, and another about the French clergyman and diplomat Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord.”

Entrepreneur and political candidate Andrew Yang has sold his new book to Crown. Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy will be released in October. According to the publisher, the book will recount Yang’s presidential run and deliver a “scathing indictment of America’s era of institutional failure.”

At the New York Times, Kate Dwyer talks with Rebecca Donner—author of the novel Sunset Terrace and the former director of the KGB Bar fiction series—about her new book, All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, in which she tells the story of her great-great-aunt, Mildred Harnack, a US spy who risked her life to expose Nazi secrets, and was executed on Hitler’s order for her efforts.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy is relaunching its annual author series tonight with an event organized by Freebird bookstore. The readers will be Adam Wilson, author of Sensation Machines; Justin Taylor, author of Riding with the Ghost; and Tracy O’Neill, author of Quotients.