“Fantasy is a tool of the storyteller. It is a way of talking about things that are not, and cannot be, literally true. It is a way of making our metaphors concrete, and it shades into myth in one direction, allegory in another.” Neil Gaiman reviews Kazuo Ishiguro‘s The Buried Giant for the New York Times Book Review and considers the power, and risks, of fantasy. Pair with Ishiguro’s talk with The Telegraph about the 10 years since the publication of Never Let Me Go.
“The literature by Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Americans is out there for anyone who knows how to use Google. But so many here and abroad would rather not know, or when a new Vietnamese author is published, would prefer to say, ‘At last! A voice for the Vietnamese!’ In fact, there are so many voices, for the Vietnamese people are very loud.” Pulitzer Prize winner and Year in Reading alumnus Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer) writes in The New York Times about the diversity of Vietnamese writing, too often ignored in favor of war narratives and the voices of American veterans. (For an incredible syllabus of books to fill in the gaps, see the middle of his piece.)
“I prefer … to believe, in the weird and sometimes happy accidents that result—in this case—in kissing a beautiful stranger in the rain. It didn’t really change anything, but it wasn’t trivial. It was one of those encounters that rises up out of nowhere and sinks back into it, giving off light and energy as it goes.” Kim Addonizio’s new addition to Guernica’s “The Kiss” series is fantastic and life-affirming.
Among the raft of news stories that came out about Facebook recently, you may have missed the company’s quiet revolution in grammar, signified by its adoption of the much-debated singular “they.” If thinking about this change makes you queasy, just remember that singular “they” has been around since the days of Chaucer. (Related: Fiona Maazel on bad grammar.)
Missed the LA Times Festival of Books this weekend? The paper has some great short pieces on the panels that took place, including this one on an event called “Whimsical Visions, ” in which rising star Etgar Keret imagined Wikipedia as written by future squids.
“It was just one small sign in a bustling city. But it was a sign, nevertheless, that Florence has not forgotten the Brownings after all.” In the New York Times, novelist Ann Mah explored Florence looking for signs of the literary couple who called it home for many years: Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. From our archives: a more sober look at the famed city.
“Hamlet’s famous last words—’The rest is silence’—are less punning than ironic, since both his parting, eloquent gasps and his death play out amidst a growing bassline beat. ‘What warlike noise is this?’ Hamlet asks as the poison takes hold. The drums and commotion signal the arrival of the Norwegian crown prince Fortinbras, who bursts into the quiet of the massacred Danish court. From the beginning of Hamlet, we’re taught to think of sovereignty as a manipulation of sound waves.” What does silence mean in this age of constant digital noise? The Literary Hub takes a look.