For the past couple of years, most of what I've read has been Wagnerism-related — about which I have no complaints, since my book will encompass much of the greatest literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as some of the weirdest. But I did drop everything to read Chimamanda Adichie's merciless, compassionate new novel Americanah. It tells of a young Nigerian woman who comes to America and, after a long struggle to find her footing, begins writing a blog on American racial neuroses. The perceptions on race are breathtaking, as various reviewers have noted; Ruth Franklin, in BookForum, delivers a particularly acute commentary. But I'd also like to put in a word for Adichie's style. I have a hard time with a lot of contemporary fiction; I've begun any number of acclaimed new novels, often by men self-consciously vying for the Great American Novel title, and stopped after thirty pages in a state of bored frustration. In an age of chronic overwriting, Adichie has found a voice that is noble, spare, shorn of show, at once uncommonly elegant and uncomfortably direct.
I'm also planning to read George Packer's The Unwinding, Edna O'Brien's Country Girl, Choire Sicha's Very Recent History, and David Margolick's Dreadful, about the dark, short life of John Horne Burns.