Over at McSweeney’s, Sarah Solomon has undertaken the Sisyphean task of bringing existentialism into the twenty-first century. In a series of brief vignettes, Solomon gives the oft-maligned Millennial generation the existentialist makeover they never asked for. Continue your study of the absolute indifference of the universe with this essay by Zach Pontz on The Meursault Investigation, a new novel by Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud that imagines Albert Camus’s famous The Stranger from the perspective of the unnamed Arab antagonists.
At the Philadelphia Inquirer, neurologists look at cases where serious brain injury has actually brought about higher levels of creativity in artists, particularly where linguistic ability is harmed. “Language is the bully of the brain,” [one neurologist] says. “It takes up its own space and if something else gets crowded out, too bad.” (via Book Bench)
Wallace Shawn has written a new play, and it’s unsettling to watch. In it, a group of wealthy, middle-aged party hosts reveal their roles in a dystopian future, where political murders, random beatings and censorship are all commonplace. In an essay for The New York Review of Books, Francine Prose reviews the play in the context of Shawn’s other works.
Beyoncé’s visual album/phenomenon Lemonade has only been out for a few days and already it has spawned countless thinkpieces. One of the best and most inspiring things to come out of it has been the #LemonadeSyllabus hashtag, popularized by Rutgers University educator Candace Benbow. The series “encourages Black women to share curated reading lists of books, poems and other inspirational literature penned by Black female authors that celebrate every aspect of what it means to be a Black woman.”
Junot Díaz has criticized MFA programs for being “too white.” So what’s on his syllabi? Salon found the syllabi for the two courses Díaz teaches at MIT. In his fantasy world-building class, students read everyone from Bram Stoker to Octavia Butler. His advanced fiction course includes stories by Edwidge Danticat and Roberto Bolaño. Where can we sign up?
“But writers and runners know that when you settle into a long-distance run or hit your stride with the work, something other than your body takes over.” For LitHub, our own Nick Ripatrazone writes about the similarities between long-distance running and writing. Pair with: an essay on the poetics of running.