Art is activism! Here’s an exciting look at some creative humanitarian art projects happening around the world, from sandbag subterfuge to cellphone camera-wielding teenagers. Academic activism is not without its charms, as well.
Recommended Reading: Paula Marantz Cohen on Norman Mailer’s most infamous book review.
“In a genre that has long been dominated by white men and Western mythological tropes, Ms. Okorafor’s stories, which feature young black girls in starring roles as superheroes and saviors of humanity, have been hailed as groundbreaking.” The New York Times shines a spotlight on Nnedi Okorafor and other African American science fiction and fantasy writers building on -and popularizing-a tradition of African and African American folklore in the sci fi and fantasy genre.
Pacific Standards profiles Ken Layne who quietly started the popular quarterly literary magazine, Desert Oracle for a town of 8,000 people. Now it has gained far more readers than that as it highlights works related to the American desert. “The reason that the Oracle works is that it’s always trying to elicit that feeling, the awe and wonder that the desert reveals to you when you listen hard enough. Layne believes it’s not an accident that religious awakenings, UFO sightings, walkabouts, and other revelations occur in the desert. It’s a consequence of solitude, stark beauty, and the tenacious life that only the desert has.”
“His writings rarely make it to the US, and are resolutely for an Indian readership. They will win no prizes nor inspire dissertations. But for these reasons they represent the actuality of what many people in the world are reading today, outside of the newly sanctified category of the ‘global novel.’” Ulka Anjaria for Public Books on Chetan Bhagat, “possibly the most successful Indian English novelist ever” and largely unheard of in the west. For more fictional Desi perspectives, read Aditya Desai in our own pages on reading narratives of Indian women.
Here’s a simple poll idea we’re amazed we hadn’t thought of before: asking famous writers to pick their favorite words. In The Guardian, Hilary Mantel, Tessa Hadley and others (including Year in Reading alum Eimear McBride) choose their picks for an exceedingly odd vocabulary list.