“When you are a latecomer, outsider, immigrant, exile, there are fractures in your life that you can’t heal… I have a lot of respect for people that have stayed behind and have to deal with the wounds every day.” Elif Shafak
Posts tagged "Contexts"
Obama the chameleon

Obama the chameleon

The concept of race has no evidentiary basis in science or the serious study of the natural world, but as a social construction, it has had a powerful impact on the shaping of the modern era. Race has structured hierarchies and relationships within vast empires and between powerful nation-states and subjugated colonies for centuries. Further,...
It takes guts to make good art

It takes guts to make good art

“As for you, the vultures will feast on you!” With these words of visceral triumph (quite literally, since he has just thrust his spear into his fallen opponent’s underbelly), Hector, “preeminent among the war-loving Trojans”, finishes off Patroclus in Book XVI of Homer’s Iliad, but only after the latter had been struck down twice already,...
A mattress

A mattress

My fiction comes from voices; voices that I hear, and then do my best to transcribe. The voice that follows, which comes from the second story in Address Book, turned out to be a really tricky one to get down. Basically, that’s because going back to the 1980s is still very hard for me. There...
Seabirds

Seabirds

Of course I know the seabirds were here first! They’ve had their own registered territories for God knows how many generations, and it’s very clear they must hate us. They do screaming nosedives, beaks wide open. The terns are worst, real warriors, and their aim is perfect when they crap on us. These shimmering white...
Towards an aesthetics of (im)perfection

Towards an aesthetics of (im)perfection

There is a certain aura of myth and legend when it comes to Jane Austen. We think we know so much about her, and at the same time we apparently never tire of being thrilled by the mystery that seems to surround her, from her private life to what is quite simply her writerly genius....
A thousand and one tales of a philosophical life

A thousand and one tales of a philosophical life

What can Hannah Arendt possibly teach us today? What was, and still is one hopes, her indelible imprint on the world, on our humanity, on what she so unwaveringly upheld as civilisation? And who was she? How did she become that singular multitude of perspectives, human facets, existential and conceptual spaces that can certainly lay...
The story of their history

The story of their history

The experience of lost places of belonging, of lost states of existence, together with the tenacity to defy and resist both loss and non-being, are deeply ingrained in the Russian language: thanks to Maxim Gorky, a term such as Бывшие люди, or ‘former people’, would come to acquire an eerily tangible corporeality, reality, and even...
Secrets and lies, red Welshmen and words of vagrant wisdom

Secrets and lies, red Welshmen and words of vagrant wisdom

“All families develop a special language, words and references no outsider can understand. My family’s special language was Rotwelsch.” Thus begins Martin Puchner’s complex, compelling, if at times ambivalent exploration of a family and a language, or in point of fact of Language (and perhaps Family) capitalised. Of language as an institution, as a structure...
On ghosts and grace

On ghosts and grace

At the outset of our email chat about her new novel Ghosted, when I tell her how deeply I connected with her story, Jenn Ashworth accepts my heartfelt praise with the comment: “It’s all I want, really, when people read my books – just to feel like they’ve been acknowledged and offered something half-useful.” It’s...
Don't just think about it – how thoughts can be life's actions

Don’t just think about it – how thoughts can be life’s actions

The ancient Greeks, and the Romans in their wake, loved to think. They were enchanted, startled and astonished by the world around them, not only by its wondrousness, but also by its terrifying vastness, inscrutable perils, its dark mysteriousness and unknowingness. They found a sense of thrill and exaltation in the perusal of magnitude and...