Launched on July 1, 1916—98 years ago today—the Battle of the Somme has come to epitomize the madness of the First World War. Almost 20,000 British soldiers were killed and another 40,000 were wounded that first day, and there were more than one million casualties by the time the offensive halted. 

In The Great War, cartoon journalist Joe Sacco depicts the events of the battle’s infamous first day in a monumental, wordless 24-foot panorama, “exacting in every damning detail, magnificent in its tragic way” (Jeff Shesol, New York Times Book Review).

Watch this short documentary to learn more.

ALEXI ZENTNER — ON TOUR FOR THE LOBSTER KINGS

“Brutal and beautiful.” — Publishers Weekly

6/3 — Newton, MANewtonville Books *
6/4 — Brookline, MABrookline Booksmith *
6/5 — Portland, MELetterpress Books *
6/6 — Newburyport, MAJabberwocky Bookshop *
6/9 — Hastings-on-Hudson, NYSpoken Interludes (ticketed) ¶
6/10 — New York, NYMcNally Jackson †
6/11 — Brooklyn, NYGreenlight Bookstore †

* - with Andre Dubus III
- with Téa Obreht
- with Andre Dubus III and Marcie Cuff

To me, the things that are suspenseful, that I find frightening, aren’t someone jumping out of a closet or those kind of big scares, but instead that slow build of dread, and [Highsmith] does that really well. She kind of takes you by the hand and walks you toward the cliff.

Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn on the suspenseful writing of Patricia Highsmith. Flynn will lead the Wall Street Journal book club discussion of Highsmith’s fifth novel, Deep Water.

carpentrix:

Months and months and months, and then a week ago I submitted the final draft of the book I’ve been working on, and this morning, it goes into production. Relieved to say: Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter will be out early next year from W. W. Norton.

Unless of course we are all compelled by Nina’s sparkling prose to quit our jobs and become carpenters ourselves. But no, we must resist the urge. The books must be made! 

Follow carpentrix now, if you aren’t already. 

AKHIL SHARMA — ON TOUR FOR FAMILY LIFE

Family Life is a dark and thrilling accomplishment by a wildly gifted writer.”—Ann Packer

4/9 — New York, NYAsian American Writers’ Workshop
4/14 — New York, NYThe Center for Fiction, with George Packer
4/15 — Cambridge, MAHarvard Book Store
4/16 — Princeton, NJPrinceton Public Library
4/22 — Albany, NYNew York State Writers Institute
4/24 — New York, NYMcNally Jackson, with Nell Freudenberger
5/5 — Washington, DCPolitics and Prose
5/6 — Philadelphia, PAFree Library of Philadelphia
5/7 — New York, NYLower East Side Tenement Museum
5/8 — New York, NYKGB Bar, Behind the Book Reading Series
5/9 — Brooklyn, NYBookCourt

On the cover of this weekend’s New York Times Book Review Sonali Deraniyagala, the author of Wave, weighs in on Akhil Sharma’s new novel:

Family Life is devastating as it reveals how love becomes warped and jagged and even seemingly vanishes in the midst of huge grief. But it also gives us beautiful, heart-stopping scenes where love in the Mishra family finds air and ease…I found Family Life riveting in its portrayal of an immigrant community’s response to loss…But where Family Life really blazes is in its handling of Mrs. Mishra’s grief. Sharma is compassionate but unflinching as he tells of this mother’s persistent and desperate efforts to cope over the years.

Read the full review…