Read an excerpt from Meredith Tax’s A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State in the Utne Reader.

Watch Helen Benedict talk about Wolf Season on the WGBH News segment “Bringing War’s Reality Home: Talking Fiction With Writer Helen Benedict.”

Rose-Lynn Fisher shares the story behind (and images from) The Topography of Tears with Southwest: The Magazine, LA Weekly, Lenscratch, and Feature Shoot. Enjoy more from the book at Brain Pickings and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

John McWhorter talks about Talking Back, Talking Black on C-SPAN’s Book TV, WNYC’s All Things ConsideredTablet magazine’s Unorthodox podcast, Slate’s Lexicon Valley podcast, and the Mixed Experience podcast. He also discusses the book in the Heleo Conversations series and with Columbia Magazine, Columbia College Today, and Literary Ashland.

Read an interview with Nicholas Fox Weber about Freud’s Trip to Orvieto and his own adventures in psychoanalysis in the Vienna Psychoanalyst.

Read an excerpt from Norman Lock’s novel A Fugitive in Walden Woods—a Booklist “Best New Book” and Publishers Weekly “Pick of the Week”—in Levure littéraire.

Read an excerpt from Mourning in BOMB magazine and read more from the book, along with an interview with author Eduardo Halfon, in Electric Literature.

Watch Bessora discuss her graphic novel Alpha on the BBC’s Authors Live.

View a gallery of images from Alpha in the Guardian.

Norman Lock shares the story behind A Fugitive in Walden Woods with Snowflakes in a Blizzard.

Enjoy a long-form review of Jerzy: A Novel in the New Yorker, then read an excerpt from it and interviews with author Jerome Charyn in Stay Thirsty Magazine and Comics Grinder.

Peter LaSalle discusses the influence of Jorge Luis Borges’ Ficciones on Sleeping Mask: Fictions at Beatrice.

Richard Wiley discusses writing and his novel Bob Stevenson with the Tacoma Weekly.

Watch William E. Glassley discuss his sojourns in Greenland and the inspiration behind A Wilder Time in “Wilderness and the Geography of Hope.”

Helen Benedict discusses her novel Wolf Season and the challenges of writing about women and war on the Weekly Reader Radio Show and with Publishers WeeklyStay Thirsty Magazine, the Michigan DailyHuffPost, Read Her Like an Open BookSnowflakes in a Blizzard, author Caroline Leavitt, and Powell’s Books.

Helen Benedict shares her recommendations for the “Best Contemporary Iraqi Writing About War” with the Literary Hub and discusses issues facing sexual abuse victims with Michel Martin on NPR’s All Things Considered.

 

The Kansas City Public Library and Kansas City Star have selected Helen Benedict’s novel Wolf Season for the “FYI Book Club.” Join the discussion, read an excerpt from the novel, and find an interview with the author in the Kansas City Star.

Meredith Tax speaks with Rising Up With SonaliBackground Briefing, Keeping Democracy AliveDry CleanerCastAmerican Scholar, National PostPublishers WeeklyLilith, and the Indypendent about her book A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State.

Listen to Jerome Charyn, author of Jerzy: A Novel, and Tom Teicholz, author of Being There: Journalism 1978-2000, discuss the life and legacy of Jerzy Kosinski on Rare Bird Radio.

Brian Booker shares the stories behind his debut collection Are You Here For What I’m Here For? with the Rumpus and One Story.

Watch neurologist and novelist Liam Durcan discuss The Measure of Darkness here and read more interviews with him in the Globe and Mail and Montreal Gazette.

Jerome Charyn talks to the Brooklyn Rail and Late Night Library about A Loaded Gun, his lifelong fascination with Emily Dickinson, and the art of biography.

Pascale Kramer discusses her novel Autopsy of a Father and the subject of “fear” with fellow women writers at the Red Ink series, via the Literary Hub.

Read an excerpt from Pascale Kramer’s novel Autopsy of a Father in the Brooklyn Rail.

View slideshows from Rose-Lynn Fisher’s The Topography of Tears project in the New YorkerTIME for Kids, and LensCulture, and photo essays from the series on WNYC’s Studio 360 and in Smithsonian magazine.

Read more about The Topography of Tears project in Wired, Broadly, Gizmodo, and Medical Daily.

Robert Lopez talks about Good People with the Los Angeles Review of Books, Kirkus Reviews, Barrelhouse magazineVol. 1 BrooklynLate Night LibraryAbout.comMcColl Center for Art + Innovation, and on the Weekly Reader.

Read about Darquer’s “Tears and Lace” haute couture line, inspired by The Topography of Tears project, at Lingerie Francaise.

Meredith Tax on Writing A Road Unforeseen

I have been writing since the late sixties and though my writing has taken many forms—history, novels, essays, book reviews, pamphlets, leaflets, songs—all of it has been shaped by my determination not to oversimplify or hide behind irony, but to write about women and politics in a voice that reaches beyond intellect to feeling.

My most recent publication, Double Bind: The Muslim Right, the Anglo-American Left, and Universal Human Rights, calls for a politics based on human rights, a politics complex enough to oppose Western invasions and fight bigoted attacks on Muslims, and at the same time be unafraid to act in solidarity with movements in the Global South that fight the Islamist oppression of women, religious minorities, gays, and freethinkers. In it, I ​applied​ the method I developed ​for my first book, The Rising of the Women, combining storytelling, close reading of sources, and a search for patterns—​an approach I am also using in A Road Unforeseen, this time for current history.

When civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, and Assad viciously attacked his own people, I watched in horror, but I was not surprised that the Islamic State took off like wildfire, for I could see no force with sufficient political strength and enough military experience to stop them. This remained true until the summer of 2014, when Daesh swept down upon the Yazidis, a Kurdish minority in Sinjar, promising genocide and sex slavery. The vaunted Iraqi peshmerga had agreed to defend the Yazidis, but melted away when the time came. Out of nowhere came a miraculous rescue—Syrian and Turkish Kurds, including special women’s militias, who cut a passage through the Sinjar mountains to get the Yazidi out, fighting Daesh as they went.

They came from the Rojava cantons, a place I had never heard of. Racing to learn all I could about Rojava, I realized its people were putting core feminist, ecological, and cooperative ideas into practice, based on pluralism and separation between religion and the state, with a bottom-up democratic form of governance, with at least 40% of every organization being women, and co-leadership positions in everything, one male, one female—all in the middle of a fight to the death with Daesh and other Islamist militias, while under siege and unable to even get medical supplies because Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan had closed their borders.

For twenty years or more, my colleagues and I had been saying that only unity between leftwing movements and feminists could provide enough strength to take on both a rising tide of fundamentalism and an increasingly oppressive form of globalized capitalism. Because poor women in the Global South are the real “wretched of the earth,” we said, any movement for transformation had to make their needs central. But no leftwing movement I ever saw took up the challenge until Rojava. As I came to understand what they were trying to do, I knew their experiment was vitally important to all of us, and that I must help them get their story out, so they could get the support they need to survive.

A Road Unforeseen is a feminist reading of the war against Daesh, whose rule by rape and genocide is so akin to an adult-film version of Mordor that I felt the title had to come from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring: “We must take a hard road, a road unforeseen. There lies our hope, if hope it be.”


Tune in to Science Friday to hear Ira Flatow and Colin Ellard discuss psychogeography and read an excerpt from Places of the Heartthen listen in on more interviews with Colin Ellard on NPR’s Here & Now and Rudy Maxa’s World.

Oprah.com recommends Cormac James’ “harrowing Arctic adventure” The Surfacing for book clubs and we have a terrific reading group guide to help get the conversation started.

Melissa Pritchard’s A Solemn Pleasure is being called “altogether magnificent” (Brain Pickings), a “best book for writers” (Poets & Writers), a “best book about books” (Literary Hub), a book that will help graduates change the world (Foreword Reviews), and one that “may be the handbook of the modern writer” (Brookline Booksmith Small Press Book Club).

Norman Lock on Literature, History, and his American Novels Cycle: A Series Published by Bellevue Literary Press

We are a nation given over to consumption. The predilection for novelty is everywhere present, not excepting in our art and our literature. For much of my writing life, I believed that the works of the past belonged there. Romantic novels by Hawthorne and Melville or naturalistic ones by Stephen Crane and Frank Norris were to be endured in pursuit of a degree (even if sometimes secretly enjoyed). Once having been examined on past literary achievements, I hurriedly put them behind me in favor of fiction produced by Modernists and Postmodernists. I tended to judge art and literature by its novelty and its stylistic beauties (never mind their worth).

Late in my career, I have taken up the thread dropped forty years ago and am attending to the stories of the American past—that is, of course, how it has come to be known (how it is always coming to be known by successive generations of readers) by its literature. Through my American novels, I hope to understand, a little, the present American era by what came before and shaped its thought, beliefs, prejudices, virtues, vices, and emotional undertow. I want to believe that I am serving a purpose higher than aesthetics, which also has its place in my writing. I love to fashion beautiful sentences, but I hope that they are expressive of the state of my feelings about the world around me and of the truth, as I grasp it, of that elusive world, acknowledging that it is only an approximation.

The literature of the past conferred on readers and writers a larger view. It seems to me that this amplitude of time and space encouraged a corresponding amplitude of theme and purpose. In general, nineteenth-century literature was not small nor did it consider ethical, political, social issues outside the jurisdiction of fiction. It is precisely this old-fashioned grandeur of thought, moral intent, spaciousness, and comprehensiveness—in its breathtaking view of a continent being made and remade—that I hope to emulate in my American novels. Such an ambition is certainly presumptuous, but, with his or her every sentence composed with the intention that it be read, the writer presumes.

*The books of Norman Lock’s The American Novels series include The Boy in His Winter (2014), American Meteor (2015), The Port-Wine Stain (2016), A Fugitive in Walden Woods (2017), The Wreckage of Eden (forthcoming in June 2018), Feast Day of the Cannibals (forthcoming in 2019), American Follies (forthcoming in 2020), and The Tooth of the Covenant (forthcoming in 2021).


Brian Booker discusses “taking characters for a ride” at TSP: The official blog of The Story Prize.

Find out what haunts Brian Booker about Dan Chaon’s story “Here’s a Little Something to Remember Me By” at Beatrice.

Listen to Liam Durcan talk about The Measure of Darkness on CBC All in a Weekend.

Listen to Magdaléna Platzová discuss her work on Trafika Europe Radio and with Words Without Borders.

Meredith Tax writes about the women fighting ISIS in the New York Times, Foreign AffairsNationopenDemocracy, and Dissent magazine.

Watch Meredith Tax discuss Rojava and A Road Unforeseen, with Carne Ross and Debbie Bookchin, at the Left Forum (beginning at approx. 15:30 min. mark).

Read a preview from Magdaléna Platzová’s novel Aaron’s Leap in A Public Space magazine.

Discover more about the women of Rojava and the guerilla fighters of Kurdistan on cover photographer Joey L.’s website.

Watch John McWhorter’s TED Talk “Txtng is killing language. JK!!!”

Tune in at NPR.org for interviews with John McWhorter.

Read John McWhorter’s moving, personal essay about the “black sound” in Guernica and find his fascinating exploration of the historical reasons behind the “weirdness” of the English language in Aeon.

Find stories from Good People in Autre Magazine and on the Storyville app.

Read John McWhorter’s latest dispatches on linguistics at The Atlantic.

Robert Lopez discusses his approach to story writing at TSP: The official blog of The Story Prize.

Michael Coffey talks about The Business of Naming Things on NCPR News and Library Journal’s Barbara Hoffert tells Kojo Nnamdi Show listeners why the short story collection should be on everyone’s reading list.

Read “Woodpecker Pie for Christmas,” a new short story by Robert Lopez, in the Inlander.