At the Chicago Review of Books, Eric Nguyen discusses his new novel, Things We Lost to the Water, and how Vietnamese American literature processes the ongoing influence of colonialism, as seen in two of the book’s characters, Công and Ben. “Công’s narrative is parallel with Ben’s, who doesn’t exactly embrace communism, but he falls in love with a communist and falls into a gang of so-called communists,” Nguyen explains. “[Those] ironies of history are what I was trying to get at. I’m interested in how history haunts us, but we can take that haunting and make it our own. One can’t change history, but one learns to live with it.”
Don DeLillo’s seventh book was his first big hit, but you’d never know it from looking at the work’s cover or title page. That’s because he wrote Amazons: An Intimate Memoir by the First Woman Ever to Play in the National Hockey League under the pseudonym, Cleo Birdwell. (Bonus: DeLillo’s 2009 story, “Midnight in Dostoevsky” was released from the New Yorker archive this week.)
Happy Halloween! At the New Yorker, the winners of the dress your pet as a literary character contest. Don’t miss the honorable mentions (I’m partial to the feline Moby Dick).
“No novel gets uniformly enthusiastic reviews, but the polarized responses to The Goldfinch lead to the long-debated questions: What makes a work literature, and who gets to decide?” Vanity Fair has big questions and lots of opinions about Donna Tartt‘s latest novel, which we’ve covered pretty extensively ourselves.
Psychotherapist Ariel Garten redefines consciousness at TEDx Toronto. “The problem with escaping your day-to-day life,” she says, “is that you have to come home eventually.” Her question, which she answers in the affirmative, is whether we can “find ways to know ourselves without the escape? Can we redefine our relationship with the technologized world in order to have the heightened sense of self-awareness that we seek? Can we live here and now in our wired web, and still follow those ancient instructions: ‘Know thyself’?”
David Risher founded the nonprofit Worldreader program in 2009 to distribute Kindles to children in the developing world. His aim was to increase literacy. Today the program has shared over 200,000 e-books with children in Ghana and Kenya, and Risher and his colleagues hope to allocate 10,000 reading devices by 2013.