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.)
Lucky Alan, which came out in February, is Jonathan Lethem’s first new story collection in more than ten years. He talked with Matt Bell about it in an interview at Salon. “What’s great about short stories is the opportunity to play at reinvention; all those new departures, all those new landings to try to stick,” he says. You could also read our review of his novel Dissident Gardens.
Recommended Reading: Laura Miller on Mario Vargas Llosa and cultural declinism.