Lydia Millet

The novelist on great reads from wild West to wild nature.



Lydia Millet won the 2003 PEN-USA Award for Fiction for her novel, My Happy Light, and her collection of short stories, Love in Infant Monkeys, was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. Her new novel, Ghost Lights, revolves around an IRS agent, disconnected from his family, who seeks renewal by traveling to Belize to find his erstwhile boss, the protagonist of Millet's previous novel, How the Dead Dream. Asked to choose three favorites, Millett responded with an eclectic trio of picks.


Books by Lydia Millet




Far Bright Star

By Robert Olmstead


"A western, true, historical, true, featuring men and guns and horses, guilty. But one of the most beautifully written books I've read, abstractions that are gorgeous in their rhythms and affect and subtle in their suggestions about mortality and aloneness. Sublime novel. Olmstead should be more widely read."




Ill Nature

By Joy Williams


"My favorite book of essays possibly ever. Williams is to be worshiped for her mastery of the aggressive but righteous nonfiction narrative self. Best essay about a dog ever, best essay about hunting ever, a whole array of powerful heavy hitters. Williams' stories are truly excellent too, but if you're looking for great polemics that transcend the genre, please read Ill Nature at your first convenience."




The Unprofessionals

By Julie Hecht


"Hecht is one of the funniest Americans writing today. Her cranky, solipsistic, vain, elitist misanthrope of a narrator is a work of brilliance. The Unprofessionals is a novel; try also her better-known and even more lacerating collection Do the Windows Open? for hilarious short stories."

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."