Elevator inspectors, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, zombie movies: these are just a few of the things that have inspired Colson Whitehead’s books over the years. For Time, Whitehead goes over each of his books and the subjects that compelled him to write them. For his upcoming novel, The Nickel Boys, he explains: “It’s about places with no accountability. That dynamic between the powerful and the helpless, where our worst impulses can be let loose.”
Last semester, at UC Riverside, the novelist Susan Straight began the class “Mixed-Race Literature and the American Experience” with a simple question: “How many of you are often asked, What are you?” In an essay about the class, she relates what they learned, which includes the observation that hair is weirdly important in America. (Related: The Millions published an essay by Straight on Toni Morrison’s Sula.)
“Now I wrote until near dawn, wanting a map of the literary nation, a beautiful evocation of how we are truly a nation of village and city and prairie and brownstone, of Rockies and bayous and mesas. Novels give to every reader someone else’s home. Can we not see this – we of wonder and grievance?” Susan Straight creates a map of America in 737 novels, prompting us to remember the perennial literary question: What is the greatest American novel?
We’d like to introduce you all to our new intern, Ujala Sehgal, who beat out 50+ other applicants for the position. Ujala lives in Manhattan and recently left a nascent career in corporate law to travel and focus on her writing. Her first full-length piece, about negotiating one’s limitations as a reader and writer, has been published today. Welcome Ujala!
This September, OR Books will publish Tales of Two Cities, an anthology of short fiction focused on economic inequality in New York City. Among its contributors are some familiar names: Junot Díaz, Lydia Davis, Dave Eggers, Colum McCann, Téa Obreht, Zadie Smith, and Teju Cole. The volume will also be illustrated by Molly Crabapple, whose Occupy Wall Street portraits earned critical acclaim in 2012.