"When you think about something, when you remember something, it’s never linear, it’s kaleidoscopic. You remember someone and then another story comes." Négar Djavadi
Contexts
Not alone

Not alone

In the playground, fads come and go consistently, without apparent supervision, like waves on a beach. We had Pokémon, we had Furbies; we had aliens encased in strange plastic eggs. Then at some point, when we were five, imaginary friends took off as a craze. People would save spaces at the lunch table for someone...
Beyond imagining

Beyond imagining

Willa Cather in Death Comes for The Archbishop was able to create imaginary conversations and actions that gave her main character (based on Father Jean Marie Latour) and story depth and motivation, metaphors and textures, a sense of fullness and believability, that may not have been accessible to her had she wrote the book as...
Crying wolf

Crying wolf

Millennial moments are full of auguries and momentum, real promise or sly illusions. They trick us into a sense of tabula rasa, into an exalted feeling of weightlessness from the past and its responsibilities, its phantoms and nightmares, but also from the effort to match and sustain its legacy of greatness and wisdom. It is...
Glimpses of unfamiliar France

Glimpses of unfamiliar France

Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan is the title of an idiosyncratic account of Japan as a country, as a philosophy, as a world and way of life, as the seductive Other seen through Western eyes. It was written by a rather remarkable man, Lefkadio Hearn (who became Koizumi Yakumo), now mostly forgotten. It is an intimate...
Riddled words, puzzled lives

Riddled words, puzzled lives

There is something deliciously provocative about a work of literary fiction that begins with the statement “If it sounds like writing, rewrite it”. It is a pronouncement that holds the reader in irresistible tension: will this prove to be the most flawless of narratives or be exposed instead as the most bombastic of bathetic ironies?...
New happiness

New happiness

There is a Latvian goddess of happiness, Laima. It was most probably she who instilled the Latvian language with its rhythmical lilt, its roguish plosives and stops, the stark, spare melodiousness of its musicality. It was most probably she who lured generations of Latvians, both ancient and modern, to their native forests and fields –...
Crackland

Crackland

The São Paulo of my novels Gringa and Paradise City has a lot in common with contemporary London. There is gentrification and social cleansing; there is a political elite deaf to the plight of the disenfranchised; there is the tragic collapse of a social housing project; there are acid attacks; there is the dichotomy of...
Through the valley of shades

Through the valley of shades

In the Dark Room, originally published in 2005, is a meditation on mourning and an excavation of memory. It was also Brian Dillon’s first book, and we might see it as the prelude to his subsequent essays on photography and hypochondria, artists and ruins, essayists and what he calls ‘essayism’. How, Dillon asks, does memory...
The end of the world that never came

The end of the world that never came

Some books speak infallibly and for eternity; no matter their narrative temporality, the very magnitude of their resonance transcends their present, encompasses the past, often pre-empts and preconditions the future on a universal scale that gives them a sense of almost divine omniscience and awesomeness. These will eventually become what we call rather inadequately the...
Outside in

Outside in

My author bio used to say that I was a graduate of Stanford Law School, a former clerk for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a professor of law at the Maurice A. Deane Law School at Hofstra University. While this is all true, I’ve changed it now to focus on my life as...