Literature

A Lilac Sprig Dangling from a Horn

Kasia Boddy— In the last eighteen months of his short life, Richard Wright became obsessed with haiku. Since Wright was a self-declared “protest writer,” readers have struggled to reconcile these (4,000 or so) delicate experiments in verse with the hard-hitting naturalism of works such as Black Boy (1945) and Native

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The Verbal Imperialism of “Germany, Awaken!”

Karl Kraus— A literary man sensitive to fine writing might even understand my position and recognise that, in the journalism and rhetoric of the new creed, we have not seen or heard a single German verbal expression that has not belied its purported content. Among the many neologisms inspired by

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Travel-in-Place

Just because we can’t travel doesn’t mean our minds have to stay put. Here are some books to satisfy your wanderlust from the comfort and safety of your own home. A writer for whom the journey has always mattered reinvents the very form itself in this inviting collection of in-the-moment

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Maybe Try Focusing on Your Writing?

Haven’t you said you always wanted to write that novel? Well, this is as good a time as any, so here is some inspiration and wisdom to get you started. The National Book Award-winning author of Year of the Monkey, Just Kids, and M Train offers a rare, intimate account of her own creative

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Poetry to Nurture Your Soul

Roses are red, violets are blue, here is some poetry to help get you through. A vital, engaging, and hugely enjoyable guide to poetry, from ancient times to the present, by one of our greatest champions of literature. John Carey tells the stories behind the world’s greatest poems, from the

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Escape through Fiction

There is something to be said about leaving reality behind for a bit. These works of fiction will take you around the world and beyond. “If China has one possibility of a Nobel laureate it is Can Xue.” —Susan Sontag “[Can Xue] invites comparison to the century’s masters of decay

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I Live in the Slums

Can Xue— I live in the slums. I didn’t settle firmly on one place to live. I could stay anywhere as long as it had a stove. This area produces coal: all the homes used coal to keep fires burning at night. I just lay in a corner of the

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Leaving Baghdad

Sinan Antoon— I put my bag next to Roy’s big bag close to the front door and went to the hotel restaurant, a small room with four tables and a door that led to the kitchen. Abed, the waiter, saw me from inside the kitchen and we exchanged greetings. I

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The Epic of Gilgamesh

John Carey— The oldest surviving literary work is The Epic of Gilgamesh. It was composed nearly 4,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia (roughly equivalent to where Iraq and eastern Syria are now). No one knows who wrote it, or why, or what readership or audience it was intended for. It

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Material Culture and the Ethnicity of Non-Jewish Christians

Christopher Stroup— The cities of the Roman Empire were filled with gods and the citizens who honored them with festivals, processions, buildings, and benefactions. The followers of Jesus—later called Christians—lived and moved in these cities, navigating avenues lined with statues honoring various deities, structuring their days and months around the

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