“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 "USA"
Blind ricochets and unexpected avenues

Blind ricochets and unexpected avenues

“We want Jack! We want Jack! We want Jack!” It starts with just one voice, some anonymous drunken loser without a girlfriend to embarrass, hidden deep within the chattering mass of denim and leather. Cliché to begin with, those three syllables sound particularly obnoxious coming from just one person. But a restless herd of kindred...
Ink blots in the trunk

Ink blots in the trunk

Every aspiring writer is familiar with the concept of the ‘trunk novel’. This is the novel that doesn’t make it to the bookshelf, but instead gets tucked into a bottom desk drawer or old USB drive after refusing to do what its writer wants it to do. Often it’s the writer’s first attempt at a...
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...
Fifty per cent of Borges

Fifty per cent of Borges

“For nearly the past three years, I have been lucky to have my own translator by my side,” Jorge Luis Borges wrote in 1970, “and together we are bringing out some ten or twelve volumes of my work in English, a language I am unworthy to handle, a language I often wish had been my...
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...
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...
A chance to tell his story

A chance to tell his story

A boy grows in rural northern Italy, in the midst of pastoral peace and bloody internecine war; little is known about his parents or his childhood, for all the many stories that would be told about him once he became a novus homo, poet, imperial confidant, the voice of a people and an empire –...
Nasim's story

Nasim’s story

I moved to New York in January 2014 to start reporting New Yorkers. I had spent the previous decade researching, reporting and writing two books about other places. They were based on my experiences interviewing a wide array of people to get a feel for their lives, their work and the places they made. For...
Shakespeare's advice to writers? Use the pandemic (sometimes)

Shakespeare’s advice to writers? Use the pandemic (sometimes)

Shakespeare’s life was defined by the bubonic plague. What can we learn from the OG of pandemic writers? Make it count Today’s writers should deploy our pandemic’s memento mori – face masks, hand sanitiser, refrigerated morgue trucks – sparingly. Overuse lessens impact. Shakespeare knew this: he reserves images of miasmas (plague-spreading pockets of corrupted air)...
Beowulf and me

Beowulf and me

My love affair with Beowulf began with Grendel’s mother, the moment I encountered her in an illustrated compendium of monsters, a slithery greenish entity standing naked in a swamp, knife in hand. I was about eight, and on the hunt for any sort of woman-warrior. Wonder Woman and She-Ra were fine, but Grendel’s mother was better. She had...