Photo courtesy Ryane Rice
Gin Phillips had no intention of writing summer’s most scintillating literary thriller.
“I wanted to write a book about motherhood,” Phillips says of Fierce Kingdom, the story of a mother and four-year-old son trapped in their local zoo by an active shooter event.
“I was aware it was a faster plot than I normally focus on,” she says, “and I loved the idea of having to tell a story within such tight confines, where there’s literally geographic walls ...
Photo courtesy Jillian Edelstein
The key to understanding Mohsin Hamid’s slim, stunning new novel is in the doors.
“Rumors had begun to circulate of doors that could take you elsewhere, often to places far away, well removed from this death trap of a country,” Hamid writes in Exit West, an extraordinary love story that opens in an unnamed country under siege by militants.
“Some people claimed to know people who knew people who had been through such doors. A normal door, they said ...
According to poet and critic Kevin Young’s latest treatise, there’s something more American than apple pie. Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News is a philosophical history of the hoax, from mid-19th-century circus sideshows to the baseless stories that circulate our social media feeds.
“People had for a long time thought of the hoax in a kind of pleasant way,” says Young, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem ...
Photo courtesy of Madeleine Tilin
As an avid reader and aspiring author, Juli Berwald noted what sold when it came to nonfiction science books: authoritative, impersonal, exactly 10 chapters, and typically written by men.
“I would read those books and say to myself, ‘I can’t write a book like this,’ ” says Berwald, who holds a Ph.D. in ocean science from the University of Southern California and writes and edits textbooks, “and it would really bum me out, because I’m a science writer ...
Photo courtesy of Leslie Ranne
Molly Knox Ostertag’s The Witch Boy is one heady brew of a debut—mixing fantasy, reality, family, and identity in a magical middle-grade graphic novel.
This colorful adventure story stars Aster, a sweet and gentle 11-year-old boy with brown skin, red hair, and expressive eyes, whose aptitude for witchery is incompatible with family tradition.
As his white mother, Holly, explains, “Women and men have different types of magic,” Ostertag writes, “and witches pass down their knowledge from mother to ...
Quips on our radar
Parul Seghal photographed by the New York Times
“I like to think of literature and criticism as an act of pushing something forward, of mapping new terrains, internal and external, of doing things with language that reveal something about what it means to read and to live.” —Parul Sehgal, who joined the New York Times’ daily book critics in late July, in the introductory Q-and-A “How a Critic Opens a Book”
“The rejection letters all talk about the fact that the book is too niche, that it ...
Photo courtesy of Carmen Boullosa
When it comes to chronicling turn-of-the-twentieth-century New York City, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Mike Wallace takes a novel approach.
“History is written in the grooves,” says Wallace, author of Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898-1919. “There are economic historians, political historians, cultural historians, social historians, gender historians, African-American historians...and people who are specializing in a field may develop particular terminologies of examination that are appropriate for that group.
“The thing is, that’s not ...
We talk to the authors of A SECRET SISTERHOOD
Photo courtesy of Rosalind Hobley
Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney forged a friendship based on mutual admiration and the same aim: to become a (published) writer.
They met as English language teachers in rural Japan in the summer of 2001. Over the years, they workshopped one another’s stories, shared publishing opportunities, taught together, and encouraged one another to keep writing.
“We’d had some successes, but we weren’t getting anywhere particularly fast,” Midorikawa says (Kirkus reached the pair by phone in London). “This eventually ...