Round-Up: Mark Twain, George Saunders, and Barack Obama

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From Mark Twain’s unpublished story to Barack Obama’s relationship with books, here’s the latest literary news:

  • A previously unfinished children’s story by Mark Twain will be released by Doubleday Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine started off as a story that Twain told to his daughter and had written some notes about. Using Twain’s notes, author Philip Stead finished the book, which is about a young boy who has magical seeds. The book will be on sale in September.
  • Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, and Lena Dunham are among the many celebrities that are lending their voice to the audiobook for George Saunders’ highly anticipated novel Lincoln in the BardoThe novel has 166 narrators in total, and for the audio book there is a different performer for each narrator. “I love the way that the variety of contemporary American voices mimics and underscores the feeling I tried to evoke in the book: a sort of American chorale,” Saunders said.
  • Barack Obama sat down with the New York Times and spoke about his relationship with books both in and out of the White House. Obama credits reading as something that helped him to find solidarity in a job that could be very isolating, learn the patterns of history, and, as a child, give him a world he could escape to. “Whether they’ve made me a better president I can’t say,” Obama said about his favorite books. “But what I can say is that they have allowed me to sort of maintain my balance during the course of eight years, because this is a place that comes at you hard and fast and doesn’t let up.”