Much as I love the damn thing when the A is capitalized, the most potent words I read this past year weren’t even lowercase art. They were more like a truth-seeking missile, one that seethed with indignant if wholly justified outrage.
This is a tricky novel to review. I’m not even sure it is a novel. And I’m not certain as to whether its fragmentary nature belies an organic structure of astutely sewn intention or is merely a disingenuous device to conceal a let’s-get-something-out cobbling together of unpublished material lying around the writer’s desk. What I can tell you is this: I was powerfully engaged and richly entertained by Sergio De La Pava’s PERSONAE.
Tuesday New Release Day
New releases this week include The Signature of All Things by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, which you can learn more about in Steve Almond’s review for the Times. Also out: The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna; The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble; Half the Kingdom by Lore Segal; The Night Guest by Fiona MacFarlane; The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson; Personae by Hall of Famer Sergio de la Pava; and The Karl Kraus Project by Jonathan Franzen.
Sergio de la Pava Takes Home the Bingham Prize
Congrats are in order for Sergio de la Pava, who just won the $25,000 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award for his debut novel, A Naked Singularity. For more on the novel, which holds an illustrious place in our Hall of Fame, check out our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s profile of the author from last year.
Milions favorite A Naked Singularity is among the titles on the PEN American Center’s 2013 literary awards shortlist.
"De La Pava’s indifference to the prevailing trends of the marketplace helps to account for the number of rejections he would receive from literary agents (88, according to The Chicago Tribune.) But it’s also what’s so alarming about his novel’s close brush with obscurity. It suggests that traditional publishing has become woefully backward-looking, trying to shape the novel of tomorrow based on what happened yesterday. Could A Naked Singularity have benefited from a good editor? Of course, but books like this — singular, urgent, commanding — are supposed to be what good editors live for.”
- Outside the Ring: A Profile of Sergio De La Pava by Garth Risk Hallberg
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.