“Who Gets to Use Black English?” John McWhorter, author of Talking Back, Talking Black, writes about African American Vernacular English (AAVE) in the Atlantic and discusses his op-ed on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show.
Read an excerpt from Bessora and Barroux’s graphic novel Alpha in PEN America’s “Illustrated PEN” series and view a gallery of images in the Guardian.
Blurring the line between fact and fiction, Eduardo Halfon shares family photographs and an annotated excerpt from Mourning in “A Yom Kippur Scene (With Footnotes)” on the Jewish Book Council’s “ProsenPeople” blog.
Listen to Will Eaves discuss Murmur and tune in to actor Blake Ritson’s dramatic reading from the opening section of the novel at the BBC.
“How a Letter from Einstein Saved a Scientist from Nazi Germany” Read an excerpt from Gerald Weissmann’s The Fevers of Reason: New and Selected Essays at the Literary Hub.
Watch Bessora discuss her graphic novel Alpha on the BBC’s Authors Live and find out more about the book’s origins in this interview with Bessora and translator Sarah Ardizzone.
Read an interview with Will Eaves about Murmur.
Congratulations to Wolf Season, a Firecracker Award Finalist and National Reading Group Month “Great Group Read” selected by the Women’s National Book Association. Find additional resources for the novel—including an interview, excerpt, reviews, discussion questions, and more—at BookBrowse.
Watch Helen Benedict talk about Wolf Season on the WGBH News segment “Bringing War’s Reality Home: Talking Fiction With Writer Helen Benedict.”
Read Jeffrey J. Kripal’s Chronicle of Higher Education feature, “Visions of the Impossible,” which is the basis for The Flip.
Watch Jeffrey J. Kripal’s TEDx Talk on science, religion, and paradoxical ways of thinking.
Read an interview with Nicholas Fox Weber about Freud’s Trip to Orvieto and his own adventures in psychoanalysis in the Vienna Psychoanalyst.
Read more from Mourning in an excerpt introduced by director Jonas Mekas at Electric Literature, in a deleted scene at Stay Thirty Magazine, where Eduardo Halfon also participates in the One Hundred Words project, and in BOMB magazine.
Discover the remarkable story behind geologist William E. Glassley’s A Wilder Time in Pasatiempo and watch the author discuss his sojourns in Greenland in “Wilderness and the Geography of Hope.”
Read an excerpt from William E. Glassley’s A Wilder Time at Longreads.
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 and makes the case for the short story as “tour de force,” gifting readers “the feeling of having been transported somewhere new and important via the whirlwind of the words” at TSP: The official blog of The Story Prize.
Richard Wiley discusses writing and his novel Bob Stevenson with the Tacoma Weekly.
Helen Benedict discusses her novel Wolf Season and the challenges of writing about women and war on KPFA’s Bookwaves on Cover to Cover, KMSU’s Weekly Reader Radio Show, and Woodstock Booktalk Radio, and with Publishers Weekly, Stay Thirsty Magazine, Neworld Review, the Michigan Daily, West Side Spirit, HuffPost, Read Her Like an Open Book, Snowflakes in a Blizzard, authors Caroline Leavitt and Katey Schultz, Powell’s Books, and the Columbia Journalism School.
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.
Wrath-Bearing Tree, an online magazine established and maintained by combat veterans, has selected Wolf Season for their “Monthly Fiction” feature. Read an excerpt from the novel and an interview with author Helen Benedict.
Helen Benedict talks about war literature with authors David Abrams, Cara Hoffman, Matt Gallagher, and Dalia Sofer in the “Life During Wartime” panel at the Center for Fiction, and with authors Seth Brady Tucker, Jesse Goolsby, Jane Rosenberg LaForge, and Samuel Snoek-Brown in the “Duty and Dilemma: 100 Years of Writing About War” AWP Roundtable.
Helen Benedict shares her recommendations for the “Best Contemporary Iraqi Writing About War” with the Literary Hub, where her novel Wolf Season is also “Making News.”
Watch Magdaléna Platzová discuss The Attempt with translator Alex Zucker in the European Voices series.
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 Yorker, TIME 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.
Find out how Rose-Lynn Fisher’s The Topography of Tears inspired the cinematography in First They Killed My Father in British Cinematographer and read about Darquer’s “Tears and Lace” haute couture line, which was also inspired by The Topography of Tears project, at Lingerie Francaise.
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 Heart, then 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).
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 (2018), and Feast Day of the Cannibals (2019).
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.