“Over the course of our conversation, I’ve come to understand that he has not written (Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings) to provoke or to engender a self-serving sense of shock; he has written with a belief in the possibilities of liminal space and in the revelations that occur at the point of tension. The result is a book that jars, unequivocally, and that disquietingly brings to the surface the anguish of past and present America.” Stephen O’Connor’s poetic reimagining of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and the enslaved Sally Hemings has certainly raised some eyebrows. This interview with Melody Nixon at BOMB gives O’Connor a platform from which to explain his idea.
New this week: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Carnival by Rawi Hage, In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell, Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani, the collected letters of Italo Calvino, and the seventh issue of McSweeney’s food mag Lucky Peach.
William Tyndale, one of the leading figures in the Protestant reform, was executed in 1536 for his translation of the Bible into English. Over at Asymptote Journal, Josh Billings considers the meaning of Tyndale’s death. As he explains it, “It happened in an era when translation was taken extremely seriously, not just because it allowed ordinary people to read the Bible in their own languages, but because it implied those languages were as capable of containing God’s Word as Latin, Greek or Hebrew.”