The success of international authors like Orhan Pamuk, Ma Jian, Haruki Murakami, and Tash Aw – each capable of “transcend[ing] their homelands and emerg[ing] into a planetary system where there work can acquire a universal relevance” – has caught the attention of n+1’s editors. In a lengthy piece from their last issue, they suggest that we should be less concerned with such examples of “World” or “Global Literature,” and instead focused on more diverse, politically-charged and unique international works. “Global Lit tends to accept as given the tastes of an international middlebrow audience; internationalism, by contrast, seeks to create the taste by which it is to be enjoyed,” they argue.
Our love of The Atlantic‘s By Heart series continues with Azar Nafisi‘s contribution to the series: an essay on reading James Baldwin, the importance of literature to democracy, and how ultimately “we need literature to remind us how like each other we are, despite our differences.” Pair with Justin Campbell‘s Millions essay on race, fatherhood and reading Baldwin.
Out this week: Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson; Dark at the Crossing by Eliot Ackerman; Days Without End by Sebastian Barry; Mexico by Josh Barkan; The Signal Flame by Andrew Krivak; and Number 11 by Jonathan Coe. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
“‘It is the novelist’s innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself.’ The autobiography of the imagination then is an autobiography of our base desires, the things we haven’t done but have longed for. It is our fantasies, our secrets from which we curate by redaction how someone else sees us. It is an autobiography of instinct, desire.” Emilia Phillips on poetry as the autobiography of the imagination, over at Ploughshares.
Starting today and lasting until the end of the summer, The New Yorker is completely free online, including archives back to 2007. What to read? To start off, try searching the fiction page for, say, George Saunders. There’s that famous Lawrence Wright piece on Scientology. Or feel free to consult the magazine’s own roundup. But I happen to be most impressed by this grandaddy of all longform articles on six survivors of Hiroshima (subscription required).
Recommended Reading: This interview at The Paris Review with poet Morgan Parker: “I think personal narrative is really important for the individual and for a collective and for a people. I think it’s important to have agency in that narrative. There’s so much about contemporary life where one story is written upon the person by the outside world, by circumstance.”