Sunday Reading: Writers at Work

With The New Yorker’s annual Fiction Issue arriving on newsstands—not to mention smartphones and computer screens—this week, we’re whetting your appetite with some extraordinary portraits of literary artists at work.

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In 2014, Ian Parker published “Inheritance,” a Profile of Edward St. Aubyn, a contemporary British novelist whose life has combined high privilege, appalling abuse, and wretched excess—all of which became the incendiary materials of his art. In “Three Journeys,” Janet Malcolm considers the dramatic life and fiction of Anton Chekhov through her own deep reading and by retracing his travels across Russia. In “Middlemarch and Me,” Rebecca Mead takes George Eliot’s wise and capacious novel as a kind of guide, morally and intellectually, to achieving a meaningful adult life. In “A Society of One,” Claudia Roth Pierpont explores the literary and scholarly legacy of Zora Neale Hurston. Finally, in “Ishmael Reed Gets the Last Laugh,” Julian Lucas profiles a superb satirist, novelist, literary trickster, and multiculturalist. “There’s always been more to Reed than subversion and caricature,” Lucas writes. “Laughter, in his books, unearths legacies suppressed by prejudice, élitism, and mass-media coöptation.”

David Remnick

Man lounging on a bed reading a book

How Edward St. Aubyn made literature out of a poisoned legacy.

Anton Chekov in jacket seated in car with a view of flowering trees out the window

Anton Chekhov on the road.

Ishmael Reed.

America’s most fearless satirist has seen his wildest fictions become reality.

An illustration of George Eliot

What George Eliot teaches us.

Black-and-white photograph of a woman in a sweater and a hat, smiling

Zora Neale Hurston, American contrarian.

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