This Veterans Day David Abrams encourages authors and others in the media to move beyond the one-dimensional portrait of veterans or those currently serving in the military. “Far too often, those who serve are a collection of clichés from the far ends of the spectrum: either clean-cut, impossibly perfect heroes or PTSD-addled warriors ready to erupt in spree-shooting rage. The regular working class in camouflage are virtually invisible.” A necessary reminder for authors and readers.
More than ever, we need literature that gives Westerners a compelling entrée into—a way of better understanding—the lives of war-and-terrorism fraught regions. Over at Bloom, T.L. Khleif, recent recipient of a Rona Jaffe award, writes about Jamil Ahmad’s The Wandering Falcon, a collection that immerses readers in the tribal areas of Pakistan prior to the rise of the Taliban. Among other notable honors, Ahmad joins the pantheon of late-blooming male authors who would not have ever published were it not for the stubborn encouragement of their wives.
In its treatment of the poor, Britain may be “going back to the Middle Ages,” says Booker repeat winner Hilary Mantel. Indeed, she explains, “In some respects … Cromwell lived in a more enlightened time.” And she’s not the only high profile UK author to come to the side of government welfare these days. In a two–part interview for The Daily Show, J.K. Rowling notes that she couldn’t have written her first books without government “benefits.”
A few weeks ago, Benjamin Hale wrote an article for us about the trivialities and happenstance associated with publishing prizes. His point was that legacy was more important than short-lived fame. In a way, his piece is nicely supplemented by Tom Bissell’s essay on the luck and chance necessary to attain literary success.