“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 "language"
Old news: the origins of originality

Old news: the origins of originality

The ancient Greeks are old news to us, or so we appear to be claiming. For some, at this very specific moment in time, they are not just antiquated, or relegated to the shades of oblivion, they are practically obsolescent, an existential black hole, even a socio-political and ethical-historical anathema. The question of the Greeks...
Armand D'Angour: A classically philosophical life?

Armand D’Angour: A classically philosophical life?

There are books that leave you silent – with awe, or shock, or both. And then there are some others that make you yearn for the space in between silence and voice: for a space for more of the author’s thoughts, a space for questions, for engaged and engaging exchanges. Armand d’Angour’s books belong to...
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...
Literary lingo

Literary lingo

While serving in World War II, Joseph Heller concluded that war was a farce in which only those crazy enough to fight were considered sane enough to do so. That became the theme of a novel he wrote several years later. Heller titled his novel Catch-18. Just as this book was about to be published...
from Lumen

from Lumen

How might poetry help us articulate the body in illness, in work, and in love? Tiffany Atkinson’s fourth collection includes the sequence ‘Dolorimeter’, which won the 2014 Medicine Unboxed Prize. Taking fragments of speech and found text from a hospital residency at Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth to pay homage to the inventiveness and humour of...
The vulgar, not the Vulgate

The vulgar, not the Vulgate

A brief note on the word, ‘sex’. I find myself avoiding it often. It is an ugly word. Not because it is boorish, but because it is too refined. ‘Sex’ is clinical: sterile, precise, institutional. It comes from the Norman French, originally Latin – what philologists Reneé and Henry Kahane called ‘the status symbol of...
'La lengua': interpreters the colonial age

‘La lengua’: interpreters the colonial age

In August 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain, hoping to find a westwards trading route to Asia. With him were two interpreters, fluent in various European and Middle Eastern languages. Columbus himself, who was originally from Genoa in Italy, also spoke several European languages. Even within Spain, a multitude of languages coexisted, many of...
Deb Olin Unferth: Free the birds!

Deb Olin Unferth: Free the birds!

Deb Olin Unferth’s ferociously funny novel Barn 8 drops Brooklyn teenager Janey Flores into the utterly alien environment of rural Iowa, where she is recruited into a thankless job as an auditor for the US laying-hen industry. Appalled by the grim conditions in the vast chicken barns, she and her boss Cleveland Smith go rogue...
It's coming!

It’s coming!

At stake: the contested objects, nine hundred thousand white leghorn hens, their foremothers brought over from Italy in the mid-nineteenth century and bred in a frenzy ever since. Were they property or individuals? That’s what had to be decided. — It was from this farm, don’t forget, that Cleveland had taken Bwwaauk some three months...
Chinese Almanac

Chinese Almanac

My father lives by the Chinese Almanac (通勝) – it tells fortunes. Like when might be a good day to marry your lover or move house or landscape a garden. Me, I have no truck with that kind of hocus-pocus. Keep it simple. Two rules: you don’t turn down food; you stay the fuck out...