Svetlana Alexievich (”Flaubert called himself a human pen; I would say that I am a human ear”) delivered the annual Nobel lecture in Sweden, quoting extensively from her own diaries and from the other voices her work makes space for. And in light of her observation that “I am often told, even now, that what I write isn’t literature, it’s a document,” Jonathon Sturgeon reads her as the most contemporary of writers.
Novelist Bret Easton Ellis has an op-ed about how we’re all too eager to be liked nowadays. Offering the experiences of his controversial youth as self-help for those he sees as cowed by life online, he writes: “I was liked as often as I was disliked, and that was OK because I didn’t get emotionally involved. Being reviewed negatively never changed the way I wrote or the topics I wanted to explore, no matter how offended some readers were by my descriptions of violence and sexuality. As a member of Generation X, rejecting, or more likely ignoring, the status quo came easily to me.”
And, from the Baffler, a piece on literature as a tool for empathy as a tool for business—or, why and how they teach literature to aspiring MBAs. Merve Emre sits in on a seminar called “Leadership Through Fiction.”
Sarah Weinman writes about Hughes Allison, the “first black member of Mystery Writers of America,” and why he and his black detective character, Joe Hill, didn’t get the success they deserved.