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Tom Hanks is publishing a novel, and it sounds exactly like a Tom Hanks movie.

Jessie Gaynor

September 27, 2022, 11:17am

Tom Hanks—who previously spent time crushing a beloved indie bookstore with his discount big box chain (which was then probably crushed by Amazon and yes I am talking about his role in You’ve Got Mail and not his real life)—will publish a novel with Knopf this spring.

The book, The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece, is Hanks’ first novel. He previously published a collection of short stories called Uncommon Type in 2017. According to his publisher, the novel is “funny, touching, and wonderfully thought-provoking, while also capturing the changes in America and American culture since World War II.” Funny… touching… World War II… so far, so Tom Hanks movie.

The plot follows the nephew of a WWII veteran, who turns his long-lost-and-later-found uncle’s story into an underground comic book, which is adapted decades later into a superhero movie by a commercially successful director. The novel also includes the “three comic books that are featured in the story—all created by Tom Hanks himself” and illustrated by Robert Sikoryak.

Honestly, if you told me the plot of this novel with no context and asked who should star in the film adaptation, there is a 100% chance I would say Tom Hanks. I love a brand so strong it transcends form!

The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece will be published on May 09, 2023.

[h/t People]

15 new books to get cozy with this week.

Katie Yee

September 27, 2022, 10:44am

Pull on your cozy reading sweats already! This week, we’re getting new books by Namwali Serpell, Kate Atkinson, Annie Proulx, Hua Hsu, and more.

*

Namwali Serpell, The Furrows

Namwali Serpell, The Furrows
(Hogarth Press)

“Its ambiguities and enigmas add up to not more eddying confusions but to a stark reminder that the only reasonable response to grief is ‘life life life.’”
–The Washington Post

Kate Atkinson, Shrines of Gaiety

Kate Atkinson, Shrines of Gaiety
(Doubleday)

Shrines of Gaiety revolves around this grimy power struggle, and yet is—outwardly at least—Ms. Atkinson’s airiest creation to date. A feather-light confection of intersecting dramas that recalls the antic comedies of P.G. Wodehouse, the novel has it all.”
–The Wall Street Journal

Annie Proulx, Fen, Bog, & Swamp

Annie Proulx, Fen, Bog and Swamp
(Scribner)

“Proulx’s concern for the future of life on earth as the planet warms is acute, while her inquiry into the watery places where peat is found balances alarm and despair with wonder and affirmation of nature’s ability to rebound.”
–Booklist

Hua Hsu, Stay True: A Memoir

Hua Hsu, Stay True
(Doubleday)

“Masterfully structured and exquisitely written. Hsu’s voice shimmers with tenderness and vulnerability as he meticulously reconstructs his memories of a nurturing, compassionate friendship.”
–Kirkus

Kamila Shamsie, Best of Friends

Kamila Shamsie, Best of Friends
(Riverhead)

“…sophisticated and poignant … A quiet, moving portrait of two lifelong friends.”
–Kirkus

George Prochnik, I Dream with Open Eyes
(Counterpoint)

“…thoughtful, if sometimes challenging … the intellectual tapestry he weaves is complex and variegated.”
–Shelf Awareness

the beautiful mrs seidenman

Andrzej Szczypiorski, tr. Klara Glowczewska, The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman
(Grove)

“There are accidental heroes and inadvertent villains, surprising and unexpected switches that lend the book its extraordinary originality.”
–Los Angeles Times

motherthing

Ainslie Hogarth, Motherthing
(Vintage)

“A grim, disturbing novel of family drama and mental illness, yet a bizarrely funny glimpse into one woman’s mind.”
–Shelf Awareness

mr wilder and me

Jonathan Coe, Mr. Wilder and Me
(Europa)

“A beautiful, bittersweet novel that is itself crying out for the silver screen treatment … sheer delight.”
–Scotsman

Elias Canetti, I Want to Keep Smashing Myself Until I Am Whole
(Picador)

“Varied and powerful, this is a great introduction to Canetti’s work.”
–Publishers Weekly

Stephanie LaCava, I Fear My Pain Interests You

Stephanie Lacava, I Fear My Pain Interests You
(Verso)

“It’s the liquid flush of the voice undulating beneath the veneer of the book’s punky mask that drew me in.”
–The Brooklyn Rail

Kim Hye-jin, tr. Jamie Chang, Concerning My Daughter

Kim Hye-Jin, tr. Jamie Chang, Concerning My Daughter
(Restless Books)

“Kim is unsparing in her depictions of the indignities of old age, the corrosiveness of homophobia, and the piercing loneliness that comes from living in a culture of silence … A heavy but tentatively hopeful look at the struggle for intergenerational understanding through one mother’s eyes.”
–Kirkus

sinking bell_bojan louis

Bojan Louis, Sinking Bell: Stories
(Graywolf Press)

“Louis’s prose carries his poetic sensibility with a decided rhythm and resonant detail, and the narrators achingly convey their outsider status. The result is immersive and powerful.”
–Publishers Weekly

the sporty one_melanie c

Melanie Chisholm, The Sporty One: My Life as a Spice Girl 
(Grand Central)

“Spice Girls fans will eagerly devour this, but even those who are unfamiliar with the group will appreciate Chisholm’s compassion and introspection.”
–Publishers Weekly

book of phobias

Kate Summerscale, The Book of Phobias and Manias
(Penguin)

“Exquisitely detailed and consistently insightful, this is an entertaining guide to humanity’s compulsions.”
–Publishers Weekly

Here are the bookies’ odds for the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Emily Temple

September 26, 2022, 11:42am

Do you enjoy gambling—but, you know, in a cultured way? None of that racetrack nonsense or three card monte for you? Well you’re in luck: the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced next Thursday, October 6, and the bookies have begun taking bets. (You know literary prize season has truly begun when the Lit Hub editors start lurking on online betting sites.)

I consulted NicerOdds to get a sense of which writers are the favorites to take home the highest of all literary prizes this year. The list has some surprises (very fun to see Garielle Lutz with such good odds!) and plenty of old standbys (one day, Murakami, one day). But before you put any money down, be warned that the bookies are predictably wrong on the Nobel. Case in point: last year, the winner, Abdulrazak Gurnah, wasn’t even on the list. In 2020, winner Louise Glück only enjoyed 25/1 odds, and the 2018/2019 winners, which were announced jointly in 2019, were only a little closer to the top: Olga Tokarczuk had 10/1 odds and Peter Handke had 20/1. Your money is never safe with the Nobel.

Still, it’s fun. So without any further ado, the bookies’ odds for the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature as of this writing are:

Michel Houellebecq – 7/1
Salman Rushdie – 8/1
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o – 10/1
Stephen King — 10/1
Annie Ernaux — 12/1
Garielle Lutz — 12/1
Pierre Michon — 12/1
Robert Coover — 12/1
Haruki Murakami — 14/1
Anne Carson — 16/1
Hélène Cixous — 16/1
Jamaica Kincaid — 16/1
Jon Fosse — 16/1
Lyudmila Ulitskaya — 16/1
Margaret Atwood — 16/1
Maryse Condé — 16/1
Mircea Cartarescu — 16/1
Péter Nádas — 16/1
Ryszard Krynicki — 16/1
Don DeLillo — 20/1
Dubravka Ugrešic — 20/1
Javier Marías — 20/1
Mia Couto — 20/1
Nuruddin Farah — 20/1
Can Xue — 25/1
Edna O’Brien — 25/1
Gerald Murnane — 25/1
Homero Aridjis — 25/1
Ivan Vladislavic — 25/1
Karl Ove Knausgård — 25/1
Scholastique Mukasonga — 25/1
Yan Lianke — 25/1
Botho Strauss — 33/1
Charles Simic — 33/1
Cormac McCarthy — 33/1
Hilary Mantel — 33/1
Ko Un — 33/1
Linton Kwesi Johnson — 33/1
Marilynne Robinson — 33/1
Xi Xi — 33/1
Yu Hua — 33/1
Zoe Wicomb — 33/1
Martin Amis — 50/1
Milan Kundera — 50/1

Is this the weirdest American book-banning yet?

Jonny Diamond

September 26, 2022, 9:42am

Why the hell has Pennsylvania’s Central York School District banned four books in the Girls Who Code series, which provides models to young women and girls who might not otherwise see themselves as computer programmers?

Yes, the nationwide Republican movement to ban books is repugnant and cruel and deeply hypocritical, but I can generally see how it coheres with a politics of fear and bigotry. So… coding? What’s wrong with that? The only thing I can think of is that Christofascist ideologies contain within them the patriarchal need to keep women at home and dependent on men? Cool.

According to this report at The Register:

Girls Who Code’s founder, Reshma Saujani, has pinned the ban on a group called “Moms for Liberty,” which advocates for parental rights in schools and oversight of educational material. Saujani detailed her reaction to finding the books on the PEN America list: “To be honest, I am so angry I cannot breathe. This series was our labor of love, our commitment to our community to make sure that girls—all girls—see themselves as coders. You cannot be what you cannot see, and this was our effort to get more girls, girls of color interested in coding. And it worked!!”

The Register goes on to speculate that the ban has more to do with the political positions espoused by the Girls Who Code organization, which supports reproductive freedom and trans rights.

So it’s not really about the books. Ugh.

(If you’re angry about this, there are lots of places to donate money, like here.)

Recommended reading: Hilary Mantel’s review of Kate Atkinson’s debut novel.

Jessie Gaynor

September 23, 2022, 10:57am

By the time I read Hilary Mantel’s 1996 review of Kate Atkinson’s debut novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum in the London Review of Books, the novel had been a favorite of mine for over a decade. My mother gave me the book when I was in high school—both of us entirely unaware of the “controversy” that surrounded Atkinson’s Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Prize win—and I read it so many times that it eventually broke into three pieces (which I continued read). The controversy, which Mantel lay out in her piece’s opening, was that Atkinson—a 44-year-old debut novelist, and a woman, a divorced woman with who children, who occasionally made money cleaning hotel rooms—had won at all, instead of Salman Rushdie, for The Moor’s Last Sigh. 

Today, after learning of Hilary Mantel’s death, I revisited her review, and was struck again by its funny, acid, generous brilliance, both as a piece of literary criticism, and as a piece of harsh, entirely deserved criticism of literary culture. Not only its rampant sexism and classism (“Hundreds of thousands of words have been written about Salman Rushdie—and we know nothing of his manicure.”) but also its unwillingness to enjoy itself.

Reviewers are paid to read books, and they often feel guilty about it – lolling before the gas-fire, as they do, sultans of syntax, while their less fortunate contemporaries are out braving the sleet and the IRA. The guilt abates when they feel that they are earning their money, and they feel this only when they are stunned by boredom, or itching with irritation. Atkinson’s book does not provoke these reactions – and so critical panic sets in.

“What, page 100 reached and nothing done?” she writes. “Nothing to say, except ‘I am really enjoying myself’?” As a lover of enjoyable books who occasionally feels ashamed by my interest in being entertained by what I read, this is the kind of passage that makes me want to whoop. How lucky we are that Mantel has left us not only so many brilliant, enjoyable books, but so much brilliant, enjoyable criticism, too.