7 New Books We Recommend This Week

Writers writing about writers writing: It all gets a little hall-of-mirrors, sure, but that’s literary criticism for you. This week we recommend three books that look back at earlier eras of writing, from Marilynne Robinson’s luminous reflection on the Book of Genesis to Ramie Targoff’s survey of women writing in the 16th and 17th centuries to Tricia Romano’s oral history of The Village Voice.

Also up: an elegy for peasants and their way of life, and, in fiction, an Icelandic novel about an amnesiac, a British novel about a bride-to-be re-evaluating her life choices, and a South Korean story collection that tends toward the otherworldly. Happy reading. — Gregory Cowles

How Women Wrote the Renaissance
Ramie Targoff

Targoff’s rich excavation of writers of the 16th and early 17th centuries introduces not just four women but their work: fine poetry, ingenious translation, elegant diaries, subversive drama. Targoff brings a historian’s scope and a critic’s eye to her subject, and manages to make the result both enlightening and pleasurable.


“Fascinating. … Targoff’s intent is to scrape away the layer of literary obscurity from Shakespeare’s sisters and present the pentimento as transcendent survivors. Their work indeed lives on.”

From Tina Brown’s review

Knopf | $33

Marilynne Robinson

To read the first book of the Bible in Robinson’s company is a thrill. With exacting, benevolent intelligence, the prizewinning author of “Housekeeping,” “Gilead” and other novels (along with several previous works of nonfiction) brings marvelously to life this ancient chronicle of human longing, vice and virtue, and the awed intimations of divinity that inspired it.

Back to top button