Eliza Griswold’s got a great essay up on The Poetry Foundation’s website. It’s about poetry and reportage in Lampedusa, the largest island in the Italian Pelagie chain.
“I have a big global voice, but a small local one, because I don’t want to be a target, and resent that in 2017, that’s still the only choice I get to have. I have a rule of leaving the party, or social space as soon as I see five white people drunk, because the only person who will remember that moment when everybody got hella racist will be me. I have a self-imposed curfew of when to ride my bike home, when to leave the park. I would rather risk my life riding late at night on the empty and mostly dark greenway, than riding on the street with Police officers looking for whoever matches a description.” A Brief History of Seven Killings author Marlon James writes on Facebook (?) about being big, close, and black in the U S of A. Pair with Kaulie Lewis on reading James’s The Book of Night Women during her senior year.
“People used to wish that life could be as it is in books—that it could have the beauty, drama, and shapeliness that writers gave it. Today, by contrast, we hope desperately that life is not really like our writers portray it; in other words, we hope that writers are not representative men and women, but unfit beings whose perceptions are filtered through their unhealth. It is necessary to hope this, because if life were as it appears in our literature it would be unlivable.” Adam Kirsch explores the downside of literary nostalgia.
Is Alejandro Zambra the new great Latin American writer? James Wood thinks he is. In the latest New Yorker, he describes how Zambra’s new story collection alerted him to the writer’s oeuvre, going on to analyze all three of the writer’s novels in English. You could also read our 2011 interview with Zambra.