When The New York Times tried to ask Jhumpa Lahiri what immigrant fiction inspired her, she smacked the question down by saying there is no such thing as immigrant fiction. “If certain books are to be termed immigrant fiction, what do we call the rest? Native fiction? Puritan fiction? This distinction doesn’t agree with me. Given the history of the United States, all American fiction could be classified as immigrant fiction.”
If you’re like me, you probably assumed you’d never read the phrase “George Saunders in O, the Oprah Magazine”, but this is where his latest piece has turned up. As part of a creative way of presenting a list of books to read, the author imagines what reading material he’d give to an alien who wants to know what it’s like to be human. For more on his work, go read our own Elizabeth Minkel on his legacy and recent collection.
At Big Other, Greg Gerke reads William H. Gass’s The Tunnel and looks at language, the controversy over the book, and how the vulgar and the beautiful relate.
“All poems of public grief are private poems first,” writes Mark Doty in his evaluation of Wisława Szymborska’s poem, “Photograph from September 11th.” Indeed, what Doty learned “over the course of those dozen years, was that the words one hammers out in private, in order to attempt some kind of sense, may end up being used by people in ways you could have never anticipated.”