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.
What is the function of the art critic, anyway? According to Barry Schwabsky at The Nation, it is not “making or breaking” an artist, but rather “opening up perspectives without … belaboring them.” For the critically minded among you, here’s a Millions review of A.O. Scott’s new book Better Living Through Criticism.
Joe Fassler interviews recent MacArthur Genius and Year-in-Reading alum Viet Thanh Nguyen on the myth of overnight success, balancing an academic career while still finding time to write novels and the sacrifices all writers must make. Over at Electric Literature.
Elie Wiesel — Auschwitz survivor, Nobel Laureate, political activist, and author of Night — passed away yesterday at the age of 87. Here’s a quote that perfectly captures Wiesel’s essence, from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”