Do you remember the first fictional character that spoke directly to you and your experiences? For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Anita Felicelli at Bustle asked 13 authors to recount the first time they saw themselves reflected in a work of fiction. The answers range from Bich Minh Nguyen choosing Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior to Soniah Kamal with Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Paula Fox, celebrated novelist and winner of the 1983 National Book Award (among other honors), died this week. Contributing to our Year in Reading series two years ago, Parul Sehgal said she couldn’t stop rereading Desperate Characters, perhaps Fox’s most popular book for adults. “It’s really a wallop of a book,” Sehgal wrote. “A barbed portrait of a marriage, not to mention a brilliant take on gentrification, white fears of black and brown people, the hostile insularity of the nuclear family, and how power reproduces and how power conceals itself.” (Bonus: Dominic Smith wants to send a scene from that novel into space.)
Eliza Griswold’s got a great essay up on The Poetry Foundation’s website. It’s about poetry and reportage in Lampedusa, the largest island in the Italian Pelagie chain.
“I was being paranoid, but those of us who write memoirs should never underestimate the damage they can cause. I’ve seen close relationships rocked by a memoir. I’ve seen parents stop speaking to their children for years. Memoirs pose a natural threat to the family mythology, those portraits framed on the mantel piece that say everyone is happy and nothing is wrong.” Sarah Hepola asks her mother and father what it felt like to be portrayed in her memoir, Blackout.