“The worst insult people hurl at adoptees is that they are ‘ungrateful’ and should ‘go back’ (to their ‘own’ countries, to their old families). That is the moment when adoption becomes a gift—because that is the moment when it becomes clear that adoption belongs to people like the adoptive parent and not people like the adoptee. We shouldn’t want our birth families, our birth cultures. We should be thankful for being taken from the mothers who bore us. This idea of gratitude can ruin thankfulness. Why should we be grateful?” Matthew Salesses writes about gratitude and luck as an adoptee, over at The Toast. You could also check out Salesses’s Millions essay on novel writing, inciting incidents, adoption, and beginnings.
NPR's Maureen Corrigan applauds Barbara Kingsolver's Lacuna for "single-handedly keeping consumer zest alive for the literary novel," as "the only literary novel caught in the cross hairs" of the price wars waged by Wal-mart, Amazon, and Target against booksellers (the others being genre novels). As for the book itself: "I wish I could say she also deserves kudos for writing a spectacular work of fiction..."
New this week: A Cure for Suicide by Jesse Ball; Lovers on All Saints’ Day by Juan Gabriel Vásquez; The Kindness by Polly Samson; a new book of correspondence between Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti; and Apollo in the Grass by the Russian poet Aleksandr Kushner. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
Sometimes, it’s easier to read or watch something that’s light and airy, as opposed to seeking out art that challenges your perspective. Millions contributor Fiona Maazel generally thinks of herself as a person who instinctively chose nuance over breeziness. But lately, she’s had to ask herself a tough question -- is she actually more attracted to the anodyne?
In Zadie Smith's introduction to the Writers Bloc series, she writes that the program sought essays "that were not only pious, charitable or analytical but also readable, engaging, exciting." The essays published by Guernica certainly meet this criteria. I particularly recommend Aleksandar Hemon's essay on first graders in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Read our own Kaila Philo's essay on Toni Morrison's new book The Origin of Others and then pair it with Nell Irvin Painter's reflection on 'Toni Morrison’s Radical Vision of Otherness.' "Morrison’s history of Othering represents an intervention in history on several fronts. Although the theme of desegregating the literary canon reappears in The Origin of Others, times have changed since Playing in the Dark. Surely thanks to the more multicultural, multiracial canon that Morrison helped foster, no respectable version of American literature today omits writers of color."