Literary essay

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He Held Radical Light

by Christian Wiman Farrar, Straus and Giroux (September 11, 2018)

A moving meditation on memory, oblivion, and eternity by one of our most celebrated poets

What is it we want when we can’t stop wanting? And how do we make that hunger productive and vital rather than corrosive...


Camp Austen

by Ted Scheinman Farrar, Straus and Giroux (March 06, 2018)

A raucous tour through the world of Mr. Darcy imitations, tailored gowns, and tipsy ballroom dancing

The son of a devoted Jane Austen scholar, Ted Scheinman spent his childhood summers eating Yorkshire pudding,...


Equipment for Living

by Michael Robbins Simon & Schuster (July 18, 2017)

“Funny and smart” (The New Yorker) criticism of why we turn to art—specifically to poetry and popular music—and how it serves as an essential tool to understanding life.

How can art help us make sense—or...


The Art of Death

by Edwidge Danticat Graywolf Press (July 11, 2017)

A moving reflection on a subject that touches us all, by the bestselling author of Claire of the Sea Light

Edwidge Danticat’s The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story is at once a personal account of her mother...


The Genius of Jane Austen

by Paula Byrne Harper Perennial (June 27, 2017)

Perfect for fans of Jane Austen, this updated edition of Paula Byrne's debut book includes new material that explores the history of Austen stage adaptations, why her books work so well on screen, and what that...


Housman Country

by Peter Parker Farrar, Straus and Giroux (June 20, 2017)

A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice and Nominated for the 2017 PEN/Bograd Weld Prize for Biography

A captivating exploration of A. E. Housman and the influence of his particular brand of Englishness

A....


The Songs We Know Best

by Karin Roffman Farrar, Straus and Giroux (June 13, 2017)

The first biography of an American master

The Songs We Know Best, the first comprehensive biography of the early life of John Ashbery—the winner of nearly every major American literary award—reveals the unusual...


American Philosophy

by John Kaag Farrar, Straus and Giroux (October 11, 2016)

The epic wisdom contained in a lost library helps the author turn his life around

John Kaag is a dispirited young philosopher at sea in his marriage and his career when he stumbles upon West Wind, a ruin of an...


Shakespeare in Swahililand

by Edward Wilson-Lee, PhD Farrar, Straus and Giroux (September 13, 2016)

An exploration of Shakespeare as a global poet

Shakespeare in Swahililand tells the unexpected literary history of Shakespeare’s influence in East Africa. Beginning with Victorian-era expeditions in which Shakespeare’s...


The Year of Reading Dangerously

by Andy Miller Harper Perennial (December 09, 2014)

An editor and writer's vivaciously entertaining, and often moving, chronicle of his year-long adventure with fifty great books (and two not-so-great ones)—a true story about reading that reminds us why we...


So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures

by Maureen Corrigan Little, Brown and Company (September 09, 2014)

The "Fresh Air" book critic investigates the enduring power of The Great Gatsby -- "The Great American Novel we all think we've read, but really haven't."

Conceived nearly a century ago by a man who died believing...


Heroines

by Kate Zambreno Harper Perennial (June 24, 2014)

A manifesto for "toxic girls" that reclaims the wives and mistresses of modernism for literature and feminism.

I am beginning to realize that taking the self out of our essays is a form of repression. Taking...


American Smoke

by Iain Sinclair Farrar, Straus and Giroux (April 15, 2014)

The visionary writer Iain Sinclair turns his sights to the Beat Generation in America in his most epic journey yet

"How best to describe Iain Sinclair?" asks Robert Macfarlane in The Guardian. "A literary mud-larker...


The Trip to Echo Spring

by Olivia Laing Picador (December 31, 2013)

WHY IS IT THAT SOME OF THE GREATEST WORKS OF LITERATURE HAVE BEEN PRODUCED BY WRITERS IN THE GRIP OF ALCOHOLISM, AN ADDICTION THAT COST THEM PERSONAL HAPPINESS AND CAUSED HARM TO THOSE WHO LOVED THEM?

In The...


Reading Like a Writer

by Francine Prose HarperCollins (March 17, 2009)

Long before there were creative-writing workshops and degrees, how did aspiring writers learn to write? By reading the work of their predecessors and contemporaries, says Francine Prose.

In Reading Like a Writer...


How Fiction Works

by James Wood Farrar, Straus and Giroux (July 22, 2008)

What makes a story a story? What is style? What's the connection between realism and real life? These are some of the questions James Wood answers in How Fiction Works, the first book-length essay by the preeminent...