What is consoling and engaging the author of the best novel about America’s dismal experience in Iraq? American novels, especially those about Americans abroad (Joan Didion. say) have always done something special for him. Marilynne Robinson’s and James Baldwin’s work make us confront the reality that’s happening around us all the time, “a freaking massacre.” He carried the the (fictional but genuine) facts of Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk in his head for forty years.
Joan Didion, Democracy (1984; she goes “straight after the heart of that mystery, what is America?“)
Zadie Smith on the amazing, terrifying Americanness of Kara Walker
James Baldwin, A Letter to My Nephew (1962)
Another Country (1962)
Giovanni’s Room (1956)
Sewanee Review, The Corona Correspondence
George Saunders “A Letter to My Students….“
Listen and Read Here:
Upcoming Books In Dark Times Episodes: Martin Puchner from Harvard’s Department of Comparative Literature, poet Elizabeth Bradfield, and Boston College’s Carlo Rotella.