Literature

The art of distraction: Sebastian Smee’s Quarterly Essay

Guilty as charged. Yes, I spend too much time on social media. Yes, I have become more easily distracted. Yes, I have given up too much personal information to various apps and websites over the years. And yes, I have read a number of articles that articulate precisely how foolish, or at least, misguided this… Stephanie Trigg The Conversation And so when I opened up Sebastian Smee’s Quarterly Essay, Net Loss: The Inner Life in the Digital Age, I was ... Read More »

‘The world is diminished by the death of Amos Oz, it has narrowed down’

The writer David Grossman pays tribute to his friend, the Israeli novelist and outspoken peace campaigner Harriet Sherwood The Guardian The world has been “narrowed down” by the death of the Israeli literary giant Amos Oz, according to his close friend and fellow author David Grossman. “There will not be another Amos Oz, there was only one like him. You can say this about every human being, of course, but there was something unique about Amos,” Grossman told the Observer. “Those who appreciated ... Read More »

How to get your teenagers to read more

In the age of TV on demand, social media and video games, it can be hard to get teenagers to switch off the screen and pick up a book instead. RN By Fiona Pepper and Sajithra Nithi for Life Matters ABC Hard — but not impossible. Holly Godfree, a teacher librarian at a public school in Canberra, says books have many drawcards — like their ability to provide an emotional experience. “There’s something about literature and a story, and the ... Read More »

Solzhenitsyn as he saw himself

Stephen Kotkin on the turbulent life, exile and writing of the Russian author. TLS Listen to the best journalism: Download the Audm app for your iPhone. One hundred years ago this month, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was born in Kislovodsk (“acidic waters”), a curative town in the North Caucasian foothills of Russia, which was then wracked by civil war. Earlier that year, 300 miles north at Novocherkassk, the capital of the Don Cossacks, former tsarist officers had proclaimed the formation of a… The ... Read More »

Guide To The Classics: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Kahlil Gibran (original spelling at birth “Khalil”) is a strange phenomenon of 20th Century letters and publishing. Antonia Pont The Conversation After Shakespeare and the Chinese poet Laozi, Gibran’s work from 1923, The Prophet, has made him the third most-sold poet of all time. This slim volume of 26 prose poems has been translated into over 50 languages; its US edition alone has sold over 9 million copies. Its first printing sold out in a month, and later, during the ... Read More »

Refugee comics: personal stories of forced migration illustrated in a powerful new way

When a work of art called the “The List” was installed in July 2018 at the Liverpool Biennial in the UK, it contained the names of 34,361 refugees and migrants who died crossing the borders of… Emma Parker The Conversation By September, it had been defaced with the words “invaders not refugees”. While local officials condemned the culprits as “fascist thugs”, rhetoric which portrays refugees as nameless “invaders” has been used repeatedly by European leaders and politicians in recent years. ... Read More »

Bob Dylan to launch ‘life story’ retrospective in Shanghai

Dylan’s current Mondo Scripto exhibition is a pre-cursor to fully-immersive show that melds his music and visual art with his life story Richard Cook Asia Times Bob Dylan is world famous as a musician, singer, writer and poet, as a social critic and cultural icon, and as a winner – among numerous other commendations – of a Nobel Prize in Literature. As if such a mercurial collection of talents and accolades is not enough, this modern day American Renaissance Man ... Read More »

Belfast-born author becomes first Northern Irish writer to win the Man Booker Prize

A Belfast-born author has won Britain’s most prestigious literary award with a novel about a teenage girl being stalked by a middle-aged paramilitary. Brian Ferguson The Scotsman Anna Burns has become the first author from Northern Ireland and the 17th female writer to win the Man Booker Prize. The 56-year-old, who drew on her own experiences of the “Troubles” to write Milkman, was one of four female contenders for the award. The six-strong shortlist included the youngest ever author, 27-year-old ... Read More »

Booker Prize 2018: Anna Burns wins, but the big publishers are the real victors

In the literary world and among those for whom fiction is an interest beyond simply reading books, a great deal of attention will be given to the winner of 2018’s Man Booker Prize, Milkman, by Anna Burns. Leigh WIlson The Conversation The chair of the judges, philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, said Burns’ novel, about a young woman being sexually harassed by a menacing older man and set in Northern Ireland, “is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and… Of course, ... Read More »

The Unstable Identities of The Caregiver

Samuel Park’s last novel explores how one person’s sense of self can be absorbed into another’s need. ROSA INOCENCIO SMITH The Atlantic The Caregiver BY SAMUEL PARK SIMON & SCHUSTER Samuel Park’s new novel, The Caregiver, is a study in fragility: that of bodies, of boundaries, and of identity itself. Centering on two relationships—a mother and her daughter, and the daughter and her patient—it explores the complex bonds between people who are linked by the need that one has for the… The Unstable Identities… Read More »

5 Unforgettable Retellings Of Homer’s Classic Greek Stories

Whether it was in high school English class, a college history lecture, or while watching The Simpsons, you have learned about or at least heard of the ancient Greek author Homer and his two epic poems, the Odyssey and the Iliad. Sadie Trombetta Bustle Perhaps you slogged through his centuries-old work begrudgingly, but if, like me, you loved reading about vengeful gods, deadly love affairs, and bloody battles, then you’ll be delighted to know there are several fiction books inspired by Homer’s stories. Set during the ... Read More »

Catastrophe overload? Read philosophers and poetry instead of headlines

For almost two years now, Americans have been confronted daily by ominous tidings. We are living through stressful times. Reading the news feels awful; ignoring it doesn’t feel right either. Rachel Hadas The Conversation Psychologist Terri Apter recently wrote about the “phenomenon in human behavior sometimes described as ‘the hive switch,’ where “catastrophic events eliminate selfishness, conflict and competitiveness, rendering humans as… But if hurricanes, earthquakes or volcanoes trigger the hive switch, does this principle hold for man-made catastrophes? What ... Read More »

In Esi Edugyan’s Novel ‘Washington Black,’ a Slave Escapes by Hot-Air Balloon

(This book was selected as one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2018. For the rest of the list, click here.) By Colm Toibin The New York Times WASHINGTON BLACK By Esi Edugyan 334 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $26.95 When the novel “Washington Black” opens, it is 1830 and the young George Washington Black, who narrates his own story, is a slave on a Barbados sugar plantation called Faith, protected, or at least watched over, by an ... Read More »

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker review – a feminist Iliad

This brilliant retelling of Homer’s epic poem focuses on the cost of war to women through the story of Briseis, Achilles’ concubine Emily Wilson The Guardian In The Iliad, a poem about the terrible destruction caused by male aggression, the bodies and pretty faces of women are the objects through which men struggle with each other for status. The women are not entirely silent, and goddesses always have plenty to say, but mortal women speak primarily to lament. They grieve ... Read More »

Robin DiAngelo on why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism

Robin DiAngelo riles up a lot of white people. The American anti-racism educator teaches about an insidious and damaging form of racism that lurks in progressive people like herself: white privilege. ABC – RN – By Anna Kelsey-Sugg and Sasha Fegan for Late Night Live She believes many white people are unconscious of their privilege, but — often — that’s a message they don’t want a bar of. “For many white people the mere suggestion that being white has meaning will cause ... Read More »

Q&A: John Marsden says he would not have written the Tomorrow series today

A string of questions centred around race relations and immigration were directed at a panel of authors on Q&A’s panel on Monday night. ABC On the desk with host Tony Jones were John Marsden, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Sofie Laguna, Michael Mohammed Ahmad and Trent Dalton. Marsden was asked whether his Tomorrow series, starting with the 1993 novel Tomorrow When the War Began, helped raise a generation of Australians who feared foreign invasion. “I hope not,” Marsden said. “It was written ... Read More »