Sixteen-year-old Miles leaves Florida for a boarding school in Birmingham, Alabama, where he meets his roommate, Chip, and Chip’s best friend Alaska, who every guy at school is in love with. The chapters are hinged on Alaska’s tragic suicide.
On this day, December 3, in 1857, Joseph Conrad was born in Berdichev, Imperial Russia (modern
Ukraine, then a part of Poland). While he settled in England and wrote in English, he always considered himself a Pole. Heart of Darkness, one of the most famous of his 20 novels (which explores colonialism and the attitudes regarding what constitutes a barbarian versus civilized society) is considered one of the best English novels of the 20th century, as is his novel Lord Jim, which chronicles a crew’s abandonment of its disabled ship. Conrad died in England in 1924 at age 66.