I would argue that there is on one hand literature that allows readers to escape reality, and on the other hand literature that forces readers to see their reality more clearly. Mohsin Hamid has accomplished the latter in his imaginative novel published last year, Exit West, and it is
Roxane Gay’s Hunger and Melissa Febos’s Abandon Me both deal with longing to be understood and fighting the instinct to try to disappear. Both also use repetition as a literary device to achieve a lyricism, rhythm, and resonance that build power.
In a 1917 letter to a family friend, Virginia Woolf announced a new endeavor with her husband, Leonard: “We have bought our Press! We don’t know how to work it, but now I must find some young novelists or poets. Do you know any?”
Even with the latest sentencing of war criminal Ratko Mladic at The Hague, Bosnia’s path to justice is long and complicated; one of its greatest hopes for truth and reconciliation lies in the persistent work of artists and writers.
Zeina Hashem Beck’s new poetry collection, Louder than Hearts, takes the idea of brokenness—of fragmented languages and lands—and weaves together whole worlds rich in the musicality and beauty of the Arab world.
Recent memoirs on death and dying offer profound insights for the living, from Edwidge Danticat’s comprehensive new book, The Art of Death, to more intimate accounts of facing death first-hand, such as Nina Riggs’ The Bright Hour and Cory Taylor’s Dying: A Memoir.
Three debut novels shed light on migration from the Middle East and North Africa, taking up themes of displacement, longing for home, and the split narratives of a life “before” and “after.”
On Kanishk Tharoor’s radio series and in Swimmer Among the Stars, his stories remind us of the power of empathy and connection in our shared experience and the need for imagination, even playfulness, in times of adversity.