"Patriarchal domination, even — despite appearances — in the West, is still very entrenched, and each of us, in the most diverse places, in the most varied forms, suffers the humiliation of being a silent victim or a fearful accomplice or a reluctant rebel or even a diligent accuser of victims rather than of the rapists. Paradoxically, I don’t feel that there are great differences between the women of the Neapolitan neighborhood whose story I told and Hollywood actresses or the educated, refined women who work at the highest levels of our socioeconomic system. " In a rare interview, Elena Ferrante discuses the #meToo movement, Naples and her writing process for the Neapolitan novels in a rare interview translated from the original French.
"In publishing, we see this play out in a number of ways. Marginalized writers are told by white editors, we need your stories now more than ever, as if we have not always needed them urgently. We are told our experiences are timely, exotic, and trendy. We are told our stories are not authentic if our characters do not suffer, as if the only way to prove that we are human is to bleed." Natalia Sylvester on the erasure that comes when marginalized writers are constantly being told by the publishing industry and others that your book about your marginalized identity is 'timely'.
Are you familiar with "Teach This Poem"? If not you should be. This organization just won the National Book Foundation's 2018 Innovations in Reading Prize. Their literary social impact mission? Help teachers add poetry to their curriculum; "Each week, The Academy of American Poets emails out a poem along with interdisciplinary information — classroom discussion questions and multimedia offerings like maps, videos, photography, and related reading suggestions. Everything is curated to help teachers incorporate poetry into the classroom experience." Find out more about the prize and the org here.
"In no particular order, except one of hallelujah, here’s a necessarily partial list of some other living Korean American writers whose work or person, or both, I’ve had the great good luck of encountering"....you'll have to read the interview for the lengthy list as well as the thoughts of four Korean American writers who gathered at the behest of R.O. Kwon to discuss the influence and impact of Alexander Chee. It's full of beautiful insights from Kwon, Nicole Chung, Alice Sola Kim, and Matthew Salesses such as "Alex said he 'wanted to plant that flag in the culture,' and until he said that I don’t know if I’d thought about it as a reason to write. The need to exist in the canon, in the literary world. I found that very powerful, and very brave". Chee's newest book is an essay collection, How to Write An Autobiographical Novel, that we eagerly anticipated last month.
"The company has forged a chain uncommon in mainstream publishing: an unbroken line of black women, from the novel’s protagonist, via the author, to the editor, to the art director who created the cover art (featuring a black woman)." Meet the trio of Black women at Kensington Publishing who are changing (modernizing) the traditional lily white romance genre.
New York Magazine has an excerpt up from Zora Neale Hurston's long-lost manuscript, Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo, the first-person account of Cudjo Lewis, the only living survivor of the final slave ship to land in America. Barracoon will finally, 87 years later, be published next week.
Zadie Smith in conversation with Édouard Louis for the Document Journal. "Listening to the novelists Édouard Louis and Zadie Smith in conversation inspires a kind of hushed glee, a bliss familiar to eavesdroppers who encounter sublime discourse. " How can you resist?
The New York Times interviews Jacqueline Woodson, National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and Tracy K. Smith, poet laureate of the United States for National Poetry Month. They discuss black history, bringing poetry to the central and rural parts of the country and to those who are incarcerated and why poetry isn't as popular among adults. "Listening to music and lyrics and watching movies, I think, uses a lot of the same muscles we use in reading and experiencing poetry — and yet we somehow forget that we have those when it comes to sitting down with a book of poems." It's a delight, happy Saturday!
Kanye West is back on Twitter. And in literary news, he's decided to write a philosophy book, Break the Simulation and publish excerpts (or maybe the entire thing) on Twitter. There appears to be no release date or publisher attached so stay tuned.