The New Yorker

The Best Literary Criticism of 2015

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Without a doubt, 2015 was a year of controversy in literature and publishing, from the shady publication of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman to Michel Houellebecq’s controversial take on Islam and French politics in Submission. But it turned out that much of the best criticism of the year, while still concerned with literary controversy, was aimed at less anticipated targets.
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Theater of Cruelty: The Strange American Reception of Nell Zink’s ‘Mislaid’

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Nell Zink’s second novel, Mislaid, announces her as one of a handful of the best novelists on the American scene. More satirical, willfully magisterial, and, yes, even earnest than The Wallcreeper — a debut that was far more earnest than even its admirers admit — Mislaid draws its immense humor and literary ingenuity from the postwar American South, that weird, melodramatic dispositif of class, race, and gender lines that strains to confine our lives even today. By the end of Mislaid, the satire dissolves into parody, or vice versa, leaving a cast of characters — of human animals in a habitat — who have rearranged their limitations, in a way that may offend many readers, in order to pursue better, shared lives.
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VIDA Count Is Back: Which Magazines Are the Palest and Malest?

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Today’s release of the annual VIDA count, for literary magazines and book reviews, puts me in mind of a literary gender avenger version of Santa Claus coming to town, weighing whether children (aka magazines) have been naughty or nice. In this case, the question is less how magazine editors have behaved in school, and more how aggressive they’ve been in counterbalancing their blind spots by mindful solicitation of and interest in female writers.

And the judgment of who’s getting coal in their metaphorical stockings is up to us, the readers of these publications when presented with VIDA’s pie charts. We’re encouraged by VIDA to email the editors with praise or disapproval, and we can also help the magazines rectify the situation — encouraging agents, pitchers of book reviews, publicists and writers to do their part and put underrepresented writing forward for consideration.
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Spice Girls Reunions and ‘Furious 7’s’ Chances at a Best Picture Oscar: Links You Need to See

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The seventh time might be a charm for the Fast & Furious action film franchise. At least Vin Diesel seems to think so, telling Variety with an intense enthusiasm this week that, “It will probably win best picture at the Oscars, unless the Oscars don’t want to be relevant ever.” Diesel wasn’t joking, but we’re not holding our breath that the Academy will come around — just in case, however, Slate has made a “For Your Consideration” ad. 
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Why Are Female Directors Never Viewed as Part of a “Scene”?

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In The New Yorker, Richard Brody has published a response to Manohla Dargis’ magnificent three-part series in the New York Times on the difficult road for female filmmakers in 2015. In Brody’s opinion, Dargis ignores the fact that there are genuinely talented female filmmakers out there — whether it’s Josephine Decker, who Brody proclaimed a “star” after the release of her first two films Thou Wast Mild and Lovely and Butter on the Latch, or Miranda July, whose Me and You and Everyone We Know and The Future when it was reviewed, received fascinating reviews, ranging from “nope!” to “genius!”
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