My student and friend Paria Kooklan pens a guest piece at the Vroman’s Blog about the popularity of novels about Iran–and penning her own. “I mean, the American public has a short attention span – Iranians are hot right now, but I can’t help wondering when the trend is going to die out. Next year, there may well be another trendy nationality: Iraqis, maybe. Or Tibetans. Or…I don’t know – the Bhutanese? Anything is possible.”
According to Chris Richards at the Washington Post, the Ivy League rockers of Vampire Weekend are the unapologetic Bright Young Things of our recession era. Drinking Darjeeling on Daddy’s yacht never looked so good, he says, and their second album, Contra, out yesterday, sounds pretty good too.
“Why is love rich beyond all other possible human experiences and a sweet burden to those seized in its grasp? Because we become what we love and yet remain ourselves.” The remarkable love letters of Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger are both touching and predictably philosophical. Here’s a jarring, surreal reimagining of three works of Arendt’s over at 3:AM Magazine.
With the frenzied holiday season underway, there aren’t many new releases to look at this week, but there are some newly reissued classics hitting shelves. NYRB Classics has put out Alien Hearts by Guy de Maupassant and Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman. Vintage, meanwhile, has smart looking new editions of a pair of Somerset Maugham books: The Narrow Corner and A Writer’s Notebook.
“Reading is a type of reckoning with the self. That may sound like a simplistic platitude, but platitudes exist only because they are true, our self-serving intellectual mirrors be damned.” Cher Tan shares a lifetime’s reading history with Catapult, tracing her trajectory from “[k]eeping up with the boys” during high school to this past year, in which she made a personal pact to read only books written by people of color. Pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone in conversation with six authors on their childhood reading.
“The best critics do more than explain why they liked or didn’t like a book; they try to understand books, and show other readers, by example, how to read and think about those books. Specialized expertise can work in service of that goal, but is probably not as important as a willingness to attempt to be a work’s most thoughtful reader.” Elisa Gabbert writes for Electric Literature about who gets to translate and review works and takes Kazuo Ishiguro‘s latest novel, The Buried Giant (which we reviewed here), as a case study.