Hot Reads: Outline, The Almost Nearly Perfect People, Almost Famous Women

Over at The Daily Beast I reviewed Rachel Cusk’s enigmatic new novel Outline, plus an imaginative collection of stories from Megan Mayhew Bergman and an entertaining investigation into the Scandinavian psyche from Michael Booth, a Brit.

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“I Like Calling Myself a Thief”: An Interview with Rabih Alameddine

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 7.59.46 PMI recently sat down with Lebanese author Rabih Alameddine to ask him, among other things, why he wished me blue hair when he signed my copy of An Unnecessary Woman at a reading at the Asian American Writers Workshop last year.

His lovely explanation– plus his the rest of our conversation on translation, creativity, appropriation, Crime and Punishment, Kim Kardashian’s butt, and more– is now online  at Words Without Borders.

 

Brooklyn Bound: Writing Kings County

Mark your calendars for September 18th!

I’m thrilled to be hosting an interactive discussion on literature, identity, and geography at the Brooklyn Museum in a special WNYC Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend event.

The event is called Brooklyn Bound: Writing Kings County and it centers around writers past and present who have taken inspiration from the expansive borough.

The evening will feature Evan Hughes, author of Literary Brooklyn: The Writers of Brooklyn and the Story of American City Life), plus three emerging writers whose work focuses on three distinct Brooklyn neighborhoods. Yelena Akhtiorskaya‘s debut novel Panic in a Suitcase is set in the Brighton Beach of her immigrant childhood; Jason Reynolds writes about the pressures of life in Bed-Stuy in his young adult novel When I Was the Greatest; and Mark Chiusano (Marine Park: Stories) examines the far reaches of the borough in his new collection of stories.

See WNYC’s events page for details and tickets. I hope to see you there!

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Hot Reads: Lobster Kings, Gottland, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

This week’s Daily Beast Hot Reads feature lobstermen and meth dealers off the coast of Maine, a Swiss best-seller’s American debut, and the world’s largest statue of Stalin.  Check out my full reviews and stay tuned for more on The Lobster Kings, which is also a pick for The Takeaway Book Club later this summer.

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Takeaway Book Club Preview: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

ferrisHear me explain why the new Joshua Ferris novel, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, made me floss— and why it’s already divided The Takeaway team.  If you haven’t read it, now’s the perfect time to pick it up– just in time for The Takeaway Book Club’s discussion in a few weeks.

It’s got baseball, dentistry, online trolls, a made-up religion, and a protagonist who associates oral hygiene with moral seriousness.  What more can you ask for in a summer read?

Introducing The Takeaway Book Club

Excitingphoto things are happening with The Takeaway’s book coverage in the coming months.

We’ll be picking six book clubs from different parts of the country and bringing them on air to discuss a new novel.  Here I am describing what’s in store and talking about the books we’ll be reading.

And here is a picture of my books-based standing desk.  Let the record show that I am dismayed by the whole book-as-fashion-object trend— but I don’t have a lot of shelf space in my office (or a doctor’s note to get a real standing desk).

 

This Is Where: Poems about Places that Matter

For National Poetry Month, in April I produced a series of stories on The Takeaway highlighting poems submitted by listeners around the country. The project grew out of the #ThisIsWhere poetry contest WLRN and O Miami held this month for south Floridians; The Takeaway expanded the call for submissions to include listeners around the country, inviting listeners to send us their poems the places that really matter to them.

New Jersey listener Jane Byron described moving to Camden as a young single mom with a dream of revitalizing the city.   Worcester, Massachusetts resident Augustine Kanjia wrote about the love he discovered for the city that welcomed him in  after he fled war-torn Sierra Leone.   A poem from Cathy Wells of east Texas paid tribute to the family land her parents purchased, cleared, and settled together.  And in Miami, WLRN listener Eduardo Lis wrote about finding freedom and solace on North Beach as a new immigrant  with not much more than a Walgreen’s bathing suit to his name.  Hear their stories at: http://www.thetakeaway.org/series/thisiswhere/.

 

Kitty Genovese: How a Famous Murder Helped Create the 911 System

IMG_3075On a bracingly cold morning this March– exactly 50 years to the day after Kitty Genovese’s death– author Kevin Cook and I met on the block in Kew Gardens where Genovese spent her last living hours.

Cook’s new book, Kitty Genovese: The Murder, The Bystanders, The Crime that Changed America looks back at Genovese’s life and death in detail. His investigation focuses in particular on what happened the night she died.  Spoiler alert: It’s a little more complicated than what you might’ve heard (or read in that intro psychology course, for that matter).

We also stopped in on some longtime residents of the neighborhood.  Carol and Murray Berger moved into a charming home in Kew Gardens in 1957, and have been a vital part of the community ever since.  They were kind enough to invite me in and to share their remembrances of how Genovese’s murder transformed the neighborhood’s reputation.

Take a listen to my piece for WNYC here.  Check out The New Yorker’s take on Cook’s book here.  And see some lovely photos of the Bergers’ home here.

 

Meet The Hummus, A Fake News Site for Muslim-Americans

This week, I produced an interview with the anonymous founders of The Hummus on The Takeaway, and then blogged about their project for On the Media.  PRI ended up republishing the interview on their site too.  Check ’em out. Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 10.58.27 PM