A Year in Reading: Matthew Salesses

December 8, 2015 | 1 2 min read

I was going to write about Elena Ferrante, but I figured everyone would write about Elena Ferrante. I just sent in a Best of List that was supposed to be five favorite literary things from 2015; mine was:

1. Elena Ferrante
2. Elena Ferrante
3. Elena Ferrante
4. Elena Ferrante
5. Elena Ferrante

coverI am already afraid of the day when I will run out of her books to read. How then will I understand the fraught and duplicitous interactions between human beings and the ways those influence our fraught and duplicitous interactions with the self? But reading must go on! So I’m writing about Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I reread over the summer in order to give a speech. Here are our fraught and duplicitous interactions in America laid bare by a clear-eyed look at some of the major reasons they are so fraught and duplicitous: racism, imperialism, privilege. Only once in 2015 did I cry over a book, and I was surprised to find that it was during the scene in Americanah that recreates Obama’s election in 2008. With how far we have come, we have far to go. I am reminded of that every day. Sometimes I wonder about the books that attempt to bring clarity or give us direction and the books that attempt to record how inseparable our hate is from our love. How does one enact change, in the self, in others? That is the question on my mind these days. Stories are the best answers we have.

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Don’t miss: A Year in Reading 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005

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is the author, most recently, of The Hundred-Year Flood, which was a Best Book of September and a Kindle First pick at Amazon, and was a best book of the season selection at BuzzFeed, Refinery29, Gawker, and others. He is a Ph.D. candidate in Creative Writing & Literature at the University of Houston. Follow him @salesses.