The January issue of Asymptote is out, featuring an excellent interview with Year in Reading alumnus Junot Díaz about language acquisition and diasporic identity. As he puts it, “I live a life where both English and Spanish are in italics in my brain. It costs me no extra effort; it doesn’t feel unusual; it doesn’t feel like an infirmity, but it does strike me every now and then that there are people who don’t pick over their language the way I do, who aren’t so self-conscious of what they’re saying, who have a natural tongue.” Pair with Thea Lim’s Millions essay on race and gender in Díaz’s books.
"Every single book or painting or piece of music exists and we take from it what we need and love and shape it into another narrative that goes out into the world or stays within us, so it’s this great thing of one narrative piling onto the next. It’s hard to define." Miriam Toews talks with The Rumpus about her novel All My Puny Sorrows and the distinctions, or lack thereof, between autobiography and fiction.
In 2004, much of the literary world celebrated the hundredth anniversary of Bloomsday, aka the setting of James Joyce’s Ulysses. This year, we’re celebrating the hundredth anniversary of Dubliners, which our own Mark O’Connell once described as “a collection which writers of the short story form seem basically resigned to never surpassing.” At The Paris Review Daily, Skippy Dies author Paul Murray writes about his history with the book. You could also try to pass our eccentric James Joyce quiz.
Want your writing to have punch? Want your readers to believe you? "The five-word sentence as the gospel truth...Express your most powerful thought in the shortest sentence," Roy Peter Clark writes in The New York Times. Sorry that every sentence in this post is more than five words.