What if we accepted that the quest for one’s security and freedom is an undeniable part of human nature, that it lies within the very foundations of our country? That much of the opposition to immigration is generated from fear? What if we focused less on the countries of origin and the circumstances of arrival, and instead focused on how best to provide safety and order for all? What kind of nation could we be?
For my latest Ploughshares blog, I highlighted two memoirs that left me spellbound. Roxane Gay’s Hunger and Melissa Febos’s Abandon Me both deal with longing to be understood and fighting the instinct to try to disappear. Both also use repetition as a literary device to achieve a lyricism, rhythm, and resonance that build power. Read more…
My favorite books published in 2017 include Nina Riggs’ stunning and beautiful memoir written in her last living days, The Bright Hour; Kanishk Tharoor’s imaginative story collection, Swimmer Among the Stars; Hala Alyan’s expansively drawn novel depicting generations of displacement and discovery, Salt Houses; Zeina Hashem Beck’s second full-length poetry collection that sings with power and urgency, Louder than Hearts; and Melissa Febos’ lyric, layered memoir, Abandon Me.
In a 1917 letter to a family friend, Virginia Woolf announced a new endeavor with her husband, Leonard: “We have bought our Press! We don’t know how to work it, but now I must find some young novelists or poets. Do you know any?”
Recent memoirs on death and dying offer profound insights for the living, from Edwidge Danticat’s comprehensive new book, The Art of Death, to more intimate accounts of facing death first-hand, such as Nina Riggs’ The Bright Hour and Cory Taylor’s Dying: A Memoir.
If, like me, you’ve been haunted by headlines and images of people risking all to flee desperate conditions in the Middle East, perhaps you might want to understand more — Who are they, What are their stories, their motivations, their fates? The second of my Ploughshares blogs discusses three novels that take us there, into the heart of the migration crisis and the lives of individuals caught up in it.