Indie novelists uncover the intersection of money & art
In the memorable 1965 film The Agony and the Ecstasy, based on Irving Stone’s book, an intense Michelangelo paints God on the Sistine Chapel ceiling and rants at Pope Julius II.
Decades later, legions of authors still seek to capture the art world’s passionate historical figures like Michelangelo or weave fictional tapestries that reimagine its lavish auctions, charismatic stars, shocking Nazi revelations, or brazen heists. Kirkus recently reviewed three intricate novels that explore the fraught intersection of money and art ...
Quips on our radar
Margaret Atwood at the NBCC awards in March; photo courtesy of Marisol Diaz.
“When I did this research I was surprised by, wherever I looked, there were more drugs to be found. Drugs of all colors, shapes, and sizes...except marijuana. Nazis did not smoke weed. Other than that, they were really going for it.”
—Norman Ohler, author of Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich,in conversation with Dan Piepenbring of the Paris Review at NeueHouse Madison Square
“If you mean a novel in which women are human beings—with ...
This issue comes out on Tax Day, and if you’re like me, you’ve been working on your returns right up until the last minute. Now you’re done, and you deserve a really absorbing novel to make up for all the aggravation. You’re in luck! There are some great ones coming out in April.
Marlena by Julie Buntin (April 18): “Sensitive and smart and arrestingly beautiful, debut novelist Buntin’s tale of the friendship between two girls in the woods of Northern ...
Michael Dibdin photographed by Isolde Ohlbaum.
There is no Italy, lamented an official in the era of Benito Mussolini: there are only 50 million Italians. Three-quarters of a century later, there are 60 million Italians, proudly independent, mistrustful of any central authority. It’s dangerous to generalize, but it seems safe to say that few other countries are so cheerily anarchic, at once pessimistic about power but sure of the pleasures of freedom.
It is not always easy for non-Italians—and I have lived in the wildest and ...
A few excellent new books about the environment
Donald Trump and his cohorts are at it again, continuing with their efforts to roll back nearly every gain that the Obama administration was able to make regarding the environment and climate change. As Slate notes, Trump’s latest executive order, “much like the disastrous and cruel Muslim ban…attempts to fix a problem of Donald Trump’s invention.” Given the current administration’s head-in-the-sand stance on climate change and desire to continue down an unsustainable path, I believe it is more important ...
With hundreds of books pouring into the Kirkus office every week, it’s hard to make time to read things that came out last year, let alone further back. Two things have me thinking about older books today, beginning with the unusual fact that you’ll find reviews of four volumes by Australian writer Christina Stead in this issue.
Best known for The Man Who Loved Children (1940), Stead is being brought back into print by Text, an independent Melbourne-based publisher that ...
Fairly recently the Facebook comments on our review of The Black Witch, by Laurie Forest, have exploded with severe condemnation of Kirkus’ enthusiastic recommendation of this doorstopper of a fantasy that is, to quote a representative comment, “filled with horrific and undisguised racism, ableism, homophobia, and misogyny.”
They are right. The book oozes all of those things—but I would argue it is not a racist, ableist, homophobic, or misogynistic book.
The story of sheltered Elloren Gardner, scion of one of ...
Reporting from the National Book Critics Circle Awards
NBCC president Tom Beer
“I do think there’s a bottom line to writing. What a writer is supposed to do is pay attention....Paying attention is the only thing that guarantees an insight, and it’s the only real weapon we have against power because we can’t fight the things you can’t actually see.”
—Michelle Dean, recipient of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing
“Let us be fierce and dangerous about the truth. Let it come out of us, let it pour ...