Books & Fiction

Evan Narcisse on Writing ‘Rise of the Black Panther’

Jason Johnson

Writing genius Evan Narcisse, who writes about comics and comic reviews at io9, is now writing the Rise of the Black Panther limited series for Marvel comics. The comic covers the early years of T’Challa as Black Panther, as well as his family history and nation. Consider it like a Fodor’s for Wakanda. The book is exciting, well-written and a great jumping-on point for anybody of any age who wants to know more about the character. 

A Girl Vanishes, Seasons Pass, in Jon McGregor’s ‘Reservoir 13’

Lee Polevoi

A frenzied, exhaustive search gets underway. But despite the best efforts of residents and authorities, no trace of the girl is found. McGregor, employing a kind of narrative wide-angle lens, travels fitfully among the villagers—Jones, the school janitor; Jane, the vicar; the butcher Martin Fowler and his wife, Ruth; teens Sophie, James, Liam and Deepak—pausing long enough to remark on their circumstances and then moving on. 

New Book Highlights Talents of African-American Cartoonists

Terri Schlichenmeyer

In the early days, for example, many comic writers worked through the Black Press, including Jackie Ormes, “the first published female African-American cartoonist.” Ormes was the creator of Torchy Brown, a strong Black cartoon woman; and fashionista Ginger, whose little sister Patti-Jo offered wisecracks. In 1947, one of Ormes’ characters was made into an “upscale” doll; in 2014, Ormes was posthumously indicted into the National Association of Black Journalists’ Hall of Fame.

Best Books of 2017 by African-American Authors

Hope Wabuke

What We Lose was heralded as one of the best books of the year, and in this debut novel by writer and editor Zinzi Clemmons, a young woman of South African and American descent reckons with the death of her mother. Here, Clemmons, herself born to a South African mother, reckons masterfully with themes of loss, identity and home.

Movies and Politics Collide in Jim Shepard’s ‘Tunnel at the End of the Light’

Lee Polevoi

In The Tunnel at the End of the Light, Jim Shepard, a professor at Williams College, exercises a different set of muscles. These essays, written for The Believer during the George W. Bush administration, closely explore a handful of iconic American films for insights they can shed on American ideas of individuality, power and imperialism. Shepard isn’t shy about naming the wrongdoers and political leaders who led the US into unwanted wars and a pernicious global recession.

The Unsinkable Nikki Giovanni

Anne Branigin

The 74-year-old writer, activist and English professor spends much of her time laughing—her form of self-care since her grandmother used to read the “Laughter Is the Best Medicine” section of Reader’s Digest with her. But Giovanni’s latest collection, A Good Cry, What We Learn From Tears and Laughter, from William Morrow, charts new territory for the poet—delving deeply into memories of loss and abuse. 

Asterix Returns for Another Comic Adventure

Sonia Ye

The original books, written by Rene Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo, built up a mass following in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, with many childhood readers from those days still snapping up the titles decades on. After Goscinny’s death in 1977, Uderzo wrote and illustrated the series until he retired in 2009. The last three editions have been written by Jean-Yves Ferri and drawn by Didier Conrad, sticking closely to the original format.​

James Atlas Shares His Own Life in ‘Shadow in the Garden’

Lee Polevoi

James Atlas, the author of Delmore Schwartz: The Life of an American Poet and Bellow: A Biography, has written a sort of “summing-up” of his own life, large chunks of which he’s devoted to chronicling the lives of an obscure poet of the 1930s and Saul Bellow, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist of more recent times. His memoir, The Shadow in the Garden, is an often fascinating—and, at times, very personal—account of the nearly insurmountable tasks of completing an in-depth literary biography.

In New Book, Daniel Ellsberg Warns of Nuclear Dangers

Greg Mitchell

While I wrote about the Pentagon Papers in the early 1970s, my close connection with Ellsberg began only in the 1980s after I became the editor of Nuclear Times magazine. Ellsberg, then (and still) living in the San Francisco area, had started appearing at anti-nuclear protests — the “freeze” campaign was in full swing across the country. Naturally I wanted him to write an essay for the magazine on this subject but I was warned that while he often tried to write articles he “never finishes them.” When he completed a column for us, it drew wide attention as his first published piece in many years.

A Look Back at Walter Mitty

Adam Gravano

While Thurber is generally considered a humorist, he has a bountiful capacity to write fiction of a darker mien. Stories like “The Lady on 142” and “The Catbird Seat” prove there's an edge to Thurber's mind. Walter Mitty is easily described as a henpecked husband who drifts into reveries to escape his wife. At first, it's easy to mistake the daydreams for flashbacks, but, on closer examination, they fall apart. 

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