This year marks the second anniversary of Asymptote, an international journal focusing on literature in translation. The staff is commemorating the occasion by hosting a series of events in eight different locales around the globe: Beijing, Barcelona, Berlin, Islamabad, Chicago, Taipei, Singapore and New York City. Folks attending The Big Apple’s event on January 20th will get to see Millions contributor Reif Larsen live in action alongside Cole Swensen, Paul Legault, Adam Sorkin, and Ariana Reines.
Last semester, at UC Riverside, the novelist Susan Straight began the class “Mixed-Race Literature and the American Experience” with a simple question: “How many of you are often asked, What are you?” In an essay about the class, she relates what they learned, which includes the observation that hair is weirdly important in America. (Related: The Millions published an essay by Straight on Toni Morrison’s Sula.)
A pair of debuts are making waves this week. Amy Waldman’s The Submission ponders an alternate present in which a Muslim man is the anonymous winner of the search for a design to build the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero. Ernest Kline’s Player One is a “genre-busting,” pop culture-infused take on the virtual reality future that awaits us.
“I am writing a book my father will never see. Not in its entirety, not out in the world.” For Longreads, Nicole Chung writes about adoption, family, writing, and finishing her upcoming memoir, All You Can Ever Know, in the wake of her father’s sudden death. Pair with: Julie Buntin‘s Year in Reading entry which feature’s Chung’s memoir.
Emily Harnett writes about Elena Ferrante’s bad book covers and how it embraces “women’s fiction” as a genre. As she puts it, “In a literary marketplace where the very image of a woman is seen as antithetical to literature, Ferrante’s covers take an important stand.” Pair with Cora Currier’s essay on reading Italy through Ferrante’s books.
“I wanted to offer my students an alternative to the purely confessional mode. I wanted them to write about themselves without falling into a paralyzingly portentous tone. I wanted more humor in their work, more complexity, more detail, more balance—more good writing. I wanted fewer italicized passages, less use of the breathless present tense. I wanted no more tears in the workshop, no more embarrassing scenes.” Emily Fox Gordon writes about trauma narratives in the classroom, the trouble with writing as therapy, and the key differences between confessing and confiding in an essay for The American Scholar.