More than ever, we need literature that gives Westerners a compelling entrée into—a way of better understanding—the lives of war-and-terrorism fraught regions. Over at Bloom, T.L. Khleif, recent recipient of a Rona Jaffe award, writes about Jamil Ahmad’s The Wandering Falcon, a collection that immerses readers in the tribal areas of Pakistan prior to the rise of the Taliban. Among other notable honors, Ahmad joins the pantheon of late-blooming male authors who would not have ever published were it not for the stubborn encouragement of their wives.
Ivyland author (and enthusiastic Tumblr-er) Miles Klee was interviewed by Matt Hackett, and a snippet was posted on Tumblr’s new Storyboard blog. If you like what you see, you can get even more from Klee courtesy of his recent Other People Podcast with Brad Listi.
Sick of feeling inadequate compared to your literary peers? Well, you might want to stop reading, then: turns out Adam Thirlwell published his first book when he was three. (The readers of Granta learn this not from Thirlwell, who seems a bit abashed, but instead from Year in Reading alumnus Jeffrey Eugenides.)
American Short Fiction's managing editor Jess Stoner is reading local newspapers from one state a week and reporting on the big headlines in a better attempt to understand America. As she puts it, "Not to snark, not to make fun of people from unincorporated towns who write letters to the editor, but to share with you a more complicated, less yell-y look at where we are, with the hopes of better understanding where we might be headed." The first state is Alabama.
"I have a theory: the thing that makes you a unique writer hasn’t got so much to do with your influences as it does with how you became a writer in the first place. I think your preferences—your obsessions—come just as much from the first sorts of things you consumed and were passionate about. Whether that’s pop music, comics, “lowbrow” fiction, soap operas, or anything else, the thing that matters most is what started you writing stories." Amber Sparks writes about "lowbrow" influences and the many paths to becoming a storyteller in an essay for Electric Literature.