Pik-Shuen Fung Explores the Multiplicity of Experience

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For BOMB Magazine, Pik-Shuen Fung discusses her debut novel, Ghost Forest, with Kyle Lucia Wu and explains how seemingly disparate emotions play a big role in her fiction. “I think juxtaposition affects every aspect of my creative process,” Fung says. “It wasn’t a conscious decision to include these disparate emotions, but I think that I’m always interested in the complexity of an experience, and the multiplicity of an experience. I don’t feel like I ever just feel one emotion at one time.”

Thinking Through Texts with Anuk Arudpragasam

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At the Paris Review, Anuk Arudpragasam discusses his novel, A Passage North, and how he relates to the reading habits of his main character, Krishan. “I think a lot through texts,” he says. “I often refer to a line or a passage or a moment as a way to explain to somebody how I’m feeling or to refer to something I want to communicate. These moments expand my memory of life. They’re like faint memories that I can always use to compare to my present experience.”

Katie Kitamura on Embracing the Persistent Doom

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For the New York Times, Katie Kitamura discusses her latest novel, Intimacies, with Brandon Yu and how its story embraces uncertainty as a constant in our lives. “There’s a real cognitive dissonance as a person in the world,” Kitamura says. “Your consciousness can only accommodate so much, and certainly it’s been incredible to me how I can simultaneously be very worried about the state of democracy and also thinking, has the turkey gone off?”

A Cemetery Wording Expedition with Alex Thurman

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Where can you find a bull, badger, and fox in a graveyard? Word fiends will know. During the pandemic, librarian Alex Thurman discovered Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery and its fascinating grave marker inscriptions that happened to be common English words. Before he knew it, his lockdown interest resulted in the creation of Green-Wood Glossary: A Wording Expedition, a photography project that captured his unique finds. Join Alex this evening, along with Green-Wood Historian Jeff Richman, for a quirky look at the cemetery’s monuments and permanent residents.

Image credit: Green-wood Glossary

Accepting the Struggle with Lucy Ives

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At the Creative Independent, Lucy Ives discusses her new story collection, Cosmogony, and how she accepted the struggle of balancing a writing life with making a living. “It takes a lot of practice,” Ives says. “I think people don’t talk about that, that writing itself—not just like, ‘Oh, it’s hard.’ But that it isn’t natural. It’s like playing the piano or something like that. You have to stay with it to be able to do it well, or be happy with what you’re doing. I don’t have great advice about it, because I think, to me, at least, it remains a struggle, but I think you also get more accepting of the fact that it is a bit of a struggle all the time.”

Musa Okwonga Does Not Strive to Be Universal

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At the Rumpus, author and poet Musa Okwonga discusses In the End, It Was All About Love, a book that required him to be comfortable with the unknown. “For me—I don’t want to be universal—for me as a writer, the frightening thing about writing is that I often don’t know where I’m going to end up,” Okwonga says. “Not in terms of a plot, but I’m not sure what I’ll discover about myself, and the thing about writing a memoir, it’s about being seen. People write memoirs and they emerge being hated. So, when you’re writing, sometimes you’re afraid of what’s going to emerge.”

Qiu Miaojin and the Existential Wonder of the Immigrant Narrative

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For NPR, Ocean Vuong recommends four books that reshape the immigrant narrative, including Last Words from Montmarte by Qiu Miaojin, a series of letters that explores culture, language, and gender. “I’m truly inspired by Qiu Miaojin,” Vuong writes. “She’s a Taiwanese immigrant to Paris — and we often don’t think of the immigrant having, or the immigrant story having a sex life, a love life, a life of depression and deep existential angst. And Miaojin really positions in immigrant narrative in an existential wonder. And I think this is one of the most powerful testaments of rewriting or repositioning what immigration is on a global scale. And it positions the immigrant in the trajectory of the artist, because I think immigration demands a great amount of innovation and creativity. Nobody really survives the process of immigrating to a new country — to America, no less, which is so rich and complex — without being creative.”

Saving Civilization Through Stories With Kazuo Ishiguro

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At the Washington Post, Kazuo Ishiguro discusses his latest novel, Klara and the Sun, with Mary Laura Philpott, and affirms the importance of literature and storytelling in society. “I’ve been saying for years, if you take away reading, take away literature, you take away something very, very important in the way we human beings communicate with each other,” Ishiguro says. “It’s not enough just to have knowledge of facts. We’ve got to somehow be able to communicate our feelings and our emotions. We’ve got to be able to tell each other what it feels like to be in different kinds of situations. Otherwise, we don’t know what to do with our knowledge. When we create stories for movies or just stories that we tell each other when we meet, this is something very, very fundamental. Take that away, some bad things are going to happen. We’re just going to end up profoundly lonely and not be able to function as a civilization.”

Alexandra Huynh Is Speaking On Her Own Terms

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Newly appointed youth poet laureate, Alexandra Huynh, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the significance of her new role (which was previously held by the star of the 2021 inauguration, Amanda Gorman) and the motivation behind her own poetry. “The driving factor behind me putting pen to paper is knowing that no one is going to be able to get inside of my head and articulate my experiences as far as I can,” Huyhn says. “And it brings me great comfort to know that I have been spoken for on my own terms.”

Image credit: Urban Word/National Youth Poet Laureate Program

Mining and Mapping Life with Patricia Engel

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At BOMB Magazine, Patricia Engel speaks to fellow author Ingrid Rojas Contreras about her latest novel, Infinite Country, and how storytelling was instilled within her from an early age. ” I was bred on narratives,” Engel says, “and so my mind unconsciously assembles lived experience into story, searching for meaning, symbols, working out character psychologies and trails of cause and effect. Storytelling has allowed me to mine and map my own life, and also given me an outlet with which to understand human chaos. I stay with writing because it’s endlessly nourishing, and I also see it as an offering to those who came before me and those who will come after.”