A couple of years ago I joined one of those clubs where they teach you how to knock the shit out of other people. The first lesson is how to get the shit knocked out of yourself. The first lesson is all there is. It lasts between eighty and a hundred years, depending on your initial shit content.
Glemmingebro, 6 July
Today it is sunny and warm, and there is no football on TV, so we plan to go to the beach, for the first time this summer. The problem is that the children don’t want to go. Once they are there, they think it is wonderful, and then I say, now remember for next time, so that it won’t all be so difficult. Yes, yes, they say. Now it is the next time, and they don’t want to go.
Shirley Hazzard, who died on December 12 at the age of 85, wrote two collections of short stories, four novels, and three works of nonfiction. FSG published her last two works: in 2000, a memoir about Graham Greene, Greene on Capri, and, in 2003, her National Book Award-winning novel, The Great Fire.
Powerfully alive, honest, and at times deliciously satirical, The Moravian Night explores the mind and memory of an aging writer, tracking the anxieties, angers, fears, and pleasures of a life inseparable from the recent history of Central Europe. In crystalline prose, Peter Handke traces and interrogates his own thoughts and perceptions while endowing the world with a mythic dimension. As Jeffrey Eugenides writes, “Handke’s sharp eye is always finding a strange beauty amid this colorless world.” The Moravian Night is at once an elegy for the lost and forgotten and a novel of self-examination and uneasy discovery, from one of world literature’s great voices.
We asked the staff of Farrar, Straus and Giroux to name the best book published in 2016, pick their favorite titles—old, new or forthcoming—that they read or reread this year, and to share which FSG books they’ll be gifting during the holidays.
Shortly before midnight on February 27, 2015, as Boris Nemtsov and his girlfriend were crossing the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge in the shadow of the Kremlin, a man stepped out of the darkness and shot the prominent opposition politician four times, killing him instantly. Nemtsov had been scheduled to lead a large demonstration the following day against the war in Ukraine and economic conditions at home. What should have been a protest march became a funeral.
He was just tight enough and just familiar enough with the house to be able to go out into the kitchen alone, apparently to get ice, but actually to sober up a little; he was not quite enough a friend of the family to pass out on the living-room couch. He left the party behind without reluctance, the group by the piano singing “Stardust,” his hostess talking earnestly to a young man with thin clean glasses and a sullen mouth; he walked guardedly through the dining-room where a little group of four or five people sat on the stiff chairs reasoning something out carefully among themselves; the kitchen doors swung abruptly to his touch, and he sat down beside a white enamel table, clean and cold under his hand. He put his glass on a good spot in the green pattern and looked up to find that a young girl was regarding him speculatively from across the table.
On an unseasonably warm Saturday morning in early October, Jonathan Safran Foer sat down with New Yorker editor David Remnick for a conversation and reading from Here I Am as part of the 2016 New Yorker Festival. Despite taking place on a well-lit stage in Chelsea before a few hundred attendees, the conversation was uncommonly intimate and marked by unguarded candor, light-hearted jibes, and a healthy dose of sophomoric humor. Foer and Remnick covered everything from Jewish identity and the struggles of writing to digital distractions and raising children. An edited and condensed version is below.
There is much excitement for John Darnielle’s Universal Harvester, his follow-up to the New York Times bestseller and National Book Award nominee, Wolf in White Van. And that excitement has spilled over to early review copies of the book and its presentation in a VHS clamshell. Enter below for a chance to win one of ten limited edition VHS clamshell Advance Reader’s Copies of Universal Harvester, and get regular updates from the front lines of literature from FSG’s Work in Progress!
Like most books, my history of tap dancing does not include any video. But YouTube abounds in tap footage, easily accessible though impermanent, coming and going as copyright restrictions are irregularly enforced. By directing attention to it, I may cause it to disappear. Nevertheless, here I provide a guide to what I’ve found online. On my YouTube channel, you can find more clips, from very common to extremely rare, clips I describe in the book.
Visits with my father often include a ceremony, a unique sort of family séance. The tradition goes something like this: An ornate Victorian box is carefully carried from its corner resting place into the center of the living room. The box is placed on a table as my father and the rest of us—his children and grandchildren—gather around it.
The library was pitch-dark when we arrived. We turned on the lights just long enough to arrange our things and hit the sack— separate sacks. The following morning marked the first of many spent exploring West Wind together. The boxes in dry storage represented but a small fraction of the library; there were still thousands that needed to be sorted. This day would be spent gathering the last of the rarest books and shuttling them up to North Conway for safekeeping.
Kelly Luce and Karan Mahajan spent three years studying together at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas, where they both earned MFAs. FSG recently published Luce’s debut novel, Pull Me Under, which tells the story of a Japanese-American woman who cannot escape the darkness of her past; as a twelve-year-old in Japan, she snapped and killed her bully. Mahajan’s second novel, The Association of Small Bombs—a heart-wrenching tale of “minor” terrorism’s effect on families and communities—is shortlisted for this year’s National Book Award. To celebrate their recent achievements, Kelly and Karan caught up via email, discussing false shoplifting accusations, culture shock, and a woman’s right to express rage.
In 2001, I was living in Charlottesville, reading poetry at the University of Virginia, a young Canadian who had never been in the southern states before. In my second week I bought a beautiful used set of Shelby Foote’s Civil War volumes. Six weeks later I turned back to the first volume and began reading the books for the second time.
Sjón—Iceland’s prolific poet, novelist, and frequent Björk collaborator—met with fellow writer Laura van den Berg in the Harvard Bookstore to discuss his miniature historical epic, Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was. The book follows queer teenager and cinephile Máni Steinn as he travels through the societal fringes of 1918 Reykjavík, while the Spanish Flu threatens to bring his entire city to its knees. M&aactue;ni must choose between escaping into the dream world of film and engaging with the community that has rejected him at every turn. van den Berg’s debut novel, Find Me also centers on pandemic; Joy, a lonely grocery store clerk and cough syrup addict, is immune to the fatal, memory-erasing disease that is sweeping across a near-future America, a stroke of fate that forces her to reevaluate her place in the world. Sjón and Laura’s conversation touches on the intersection between film and plague, the power of death as a social equalizer, and the pitfalls of writing books that could break someone’s bones.
We’re excited to announce John Darnielle’s tour dates to support his highly anticipated second novel, Universal Harvester, which hits shelves February 7, 2017. The Mountain Goats’ front man and author of Wolf in White Van (a New York Times bestseller and a National Book Award nominee) will be reading and signing books in cities across the United States. See the full listing below.