What Do This Year’s Wildly Disparate National Book Award Longlists Mean?

If you like awards, this week has been super-fun, between the MacArthur “Genius” Grants (shout out Alison Bechdel!) and the National Book Awards’ longlists in the young adult fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and fiction categories. … Read More

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10 Gothic Short Stories You Can Read Online Right Now

Today marks the birthday of literature’s dark romantic and master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. The mad, mustachioed author initiated the modern detective story, helped define early science fiction, and embodied the definition of “troubled writer” — but it was his horror stories that marked his legacy. Inspired by his gothic greats, we’ve handpicked ten short tales of classic terror you can read online right… Read More

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Fiction Excerpt: The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals

If you’re like us, Rae Bryant‘s skin-crawling (make that gnawing) story “Intolerable Impositions” will make you simultaneously laugh and cringe at the squeamish awkwardness of one-night stand intimacies — and the sacrifices we’re willing to make to avoid them. Set to be included in her upcoming short story collection The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals, from Brooklyn indie publishers Patasola Press, this witty piece of flash fiction is at once strangely fantastical and familiar. Click through to check it out.

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George Saunders: ASME Award Finalist

Author George Saunders, the former objectivist and now, safe to say, genius satirist, is by no means new to awards. With both the MacArthur Foundation and Guggenheim Fellowships to his name, it comes as no surprise that Saunders’ short story, Victory Lap, recently grabbed a nod for ASME’s 2010 National Magazine Awards in its fiction category. Originally published in The New Yorker on October 5th, 2009, the story toys with perspective, channeling the voices of three distinctive… Read More

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Judging a City by Its Book Covers

After collecting data from 13,000 bookstores, websites and non-traditional bookselling stores, the Daily Beast has rounded up the top reads within 16 U.S. cities. While fiction picks seemed to waver between Dan Brown, Kathryn Stockett, James Patterson and John Grisham, the non-fiction reads offered… Read More

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Daily Dose: The Infinities

John Banville mixes mythology and mathematics in The Infinities, the first novel published under his own name since he won the Booker Prize in 2005.

The Infinities chronicles half-hearted memories, dreams, and fears at the deathbed of mathematician/physicist Adam Godley, whose struggling family and a few matter-of-fact Greek gods have come to attend his passing — and fulfill desires of their own. Set in the Irish countryside of a vaguely alternate universe, the book resembles playwright Heinrich von Kleist’s Amphitryon in story, but takes on an added dimension of grounded surrealism and wit. … Read More

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Review: Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett

Like Chatroulette, Union Atlantic, Adam Haslett’s new novel, boasts the inevitability of a work mainlined to the zeitgeist. It seems to have been plucked fully formed from the ether; or if not from there, then at least from the airwaves of Fox News. Doug Fanning, the book’s whorl of selfishness, need, and greed, is today’s Gordon Gekko — a VP at Union Atlantic, a bank too big to fail that’s terrifyingly plausible. Haslett, whose first book of short stories, You Are Not a Stranger Here, was nominated for both the Pulitzer and the Man Booker Prize, isn’t so much interested in detailing the gold of this man’s crowns as he is in the crumbling of the soul behind his smile.

While in the Navy, Fanning read green blips on a radar screen in the Gulf War, clusters of pixels the coordinates of which, if properly interpreted, meant death for the ship, threat, plane, or people they represented. In civilian life, Fanning makes a killing reading similarly abstract numbers on a screen that mean, somewhere, dollars, yen, billions, profit, or loss. … Read More

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Daily Dose Pick: Forest Gate

Peter Akinti’s harrowing debut novel shines an unflinching light on the disparity of race and class, focusing on East London’s projects with an activist spirit akin to Richard Wright.

Drawing on his experience growing up in the council estate of Forest Gate, Akinti crafts vivid young characters struggling to define themselves amid the chaos of families and communities entrenched in crime. The grit is tempered with an unlikely love story, affirming the power of the human spirit and signaling the arrival of a major new literary talent. … Read More

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Daily Dose Pick: Invisible

Invisible, Paul Auster’s newest and perhaps most accomplished book, is a suspenseful, psychological query on the natures of art and life, good and evil, and truth and memory.

The story begins with Adam Walker, a bright-eyed aspiring poet at Columbia University in 1967, but quickly delves into a four-decade, multi-layered saga full of sexuality, violence, philosophical puzzles, and unpredictable resolutions. Told in three narrative voices — first, second, and third — it’s a daring literary experiment by one of contemporary literature’s most provocative… Read More

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