Thursday, February 18, 2021

Ten top classic stories retold

The Smash-Up, Ali Benjamin's new novel, is based on Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton's novella about a strained marriage in a small town.

At the Guardian, Benjamin tagged ten "terrific books that breathe fresh life into the familiar," including:
On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Howard, a white, progressive English academic, reeling from the consequences of having cheated on his African American wife, is helpless as his family’s fate becomes increasingly entwined with that of his professional nemesis: a wealthy, conservative Black man challenging their
university’s affirmative action policy. This homage to EM Forster’s Howard’s End gently satirises academia (“He was bookish, she was not … She called a rose a rose. He called it an accumulation of cultural and biological constructions circulating around the mutually attracting binary poles of nature/artifice”), while remaining a moving exploration of race, privilege, family, regret and beauty itself.
Read about the other entries on the list.

On Beauty is among Brian Boone's twenty books that are absolute dorm room essentials, Ann Leary's top ten books set in New England, and Tolani Osan's ten top books that "illuminate how disparate cultures can reveal the mystery and beauty in each other and make us aware of the hardships, dreams, and hidden scars of those we share space with."

--Marshal Zeringue