“Thayil is a poet, and it shows in the prose, which contains countless moments of great beauty. His debut is an unsettling portrait of a seething city, a beautifully-written meditation on addiction, sex, friendship, dreams, and murder.”—Dispatches from an Opium Den: Jeet Thayil’sNarcopolis by Emily St. John Mandel
“Are there people trying to be novelists who are really meant to be sociologists or politicians or theologians? Absolutely. The world is filled with extremely intelligent people who want to be novelists but whose intelligence doesn’t help them in that regard. In fact, it often hurts them.”—Joshua Henkin, interviewed for The Millions by Anna Solomon.
“We are all still born, struggle through puberty, stumble through a first job, fall in love. Last I checked, we all still die too. What has changed is the knowledge, method, and language for living. “The longer we live, the longer we die,” Lepore writes near the closing pages. She could also say: the more we know about living, the harder living becomes.”—Austen Rosenfeld “A Matter of Life and Death: Jill Lepore’s The Mansion of Happiness”
“The most important literature we write in the Anthropocene will be the words that enable us to ensure breathable air, drinkable water, nutritious food, and the persistence of the abundant life that makes it all possible on this rocky mothership.”—David Biello, “Welcome to the Anthropocene”
“The tweet is a literary form of Oulipian arbitrariness, and the straitjacket of the form has determined the schizophrenia of the content. A tweet is so short that you can get right to the point — but so short, also, that why should it have one? Twitter’s formal properties bend, simultaneously, in opposite directions: toward the essential but also the superfluous, the concise but also the verbose. […] But two-faced Twitter has also brought about, in its opposite aspect, the very last thing to have been expected from the internet: a renovation of the epigram or aphorism, a revaluation of the literary virtues of terseness and impersonality.”—The Editors of N+1, “Please RT”
“A self-published magnum opus was, to say the least, an unusual project for a prestigious university press. It had to pass muster with the board of faculty members and administrators that signs off on each book published. But, thanks in large measure to statements of support from the novelist Brian Evenson and critics including Steven Moore, the press decided to acquire the rights to the book. From there, it was only a hop, skip, and a jump to the window of my local Barnes & Noble, where I passed it just this week.”—Garth Risk Hallberg on the self-publishing success story behind Sergio De La Pava’sA Naked Singularity
“Literary prizes are, of course, deeply arbitrary in many ways; such is the nature of keeping score in a creative field. Nonetheless, our prizewinners post is compiled in the same spirit that one might tally up Cy Young Awards and MVPs to determine if a baseball player should be considered for the Hall of Fame. These awards nudge an author towards the “canon” and help secure them places on literature class reading lists for decades to come.”—Millions founder C. Max Magee on The Prizewinners 2011/12
“You overhear a lot when you’re the only Dad at the playground. Even when I pull up with all the right gear – the stroller, the whiffle ball set, the baggies of organic dried-fruit snacks – the regulars peg me as a non-professional. An unserious person, mommy-wise. As a result, they look right through me as if I were just a tallish plush toy, and they say the most amazing things.”—Michael Bourne, “Battle Shrug of the Democracy Dad.”