Sneak Off and Read Something


December is the month of merry-making and bank-breaking, while January is reserved for self-improvement, belt-tightening, or perhaps drowning your sorrows in vodka. We hope in the midst of all this, you’ll sneak off and read something good. For this issue, we asked eight writers we admire to tell us about the one book they’d give as a gift. I suspect I have my reading list for the next few months. 


Elsewhere in this issue, George Saunders reveals the slim book that made him a reader and the pivotal bad book. (Does this suggest a new series? "The best bad book I ever read?") Orange Prize winner Madeline Miller serves up a five-pack of novels inspired by the classics. And Ben Fountain talks to our executive director, Noreen Tomassi, about his debut, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which won our Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize on December 11. 


You'll find plenty of original fiction to read right here, with new short stories from Sigrid Nunez, Kim Chinquee, Fred Leebron, Maya Sonenberg, and Brandon Hobson. Our featured international journal is The Vilnius Review, with (intense) Lithuanian writing in translation, and our video is of Christine Schutt reading from her powerful novel Prosperous Friends.


Now's a great time to chuck your to-do list and dig in.



Photo by Claire Holt


Dawn Raffel's most recent book is an illustrated memoir, The Secret Life of Objects. She is also the author of two story collections, Further Adventures in the Restless Universe and In the Year of Long Division, and a novel, Carrying the Body. Her fiction has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, BOMB, Conjunctions, Black Book, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, The Quarterly, NOON and numerous other periodicals and anthologies. She has taught in the MFA program at Columbia University, and at Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia; Montreal; and Vilnius, Lithuania.