Why I still read novels

A friend asked me how and why it is I find the time to still read novels despite the fact that none of us have time to do anything these days. In last week’s New York Times Magazine A.O. Scott penned an interesting meditation on Susan Sontag’s...
Cuba is a metaphor, not a country

Cuba is a metaphor, not a country

Cafe La Habana, where according to legend, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and a group of Cuban exiles planned the Cuban Revolution to take down the Batista Dictatorship. It was also a favorite hangout of exiled Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño. Over an Ethiopian...
Something More Novel

Something More Novel

When Orhan Pamuk published The New Life in 1995 it became the fastest-selling book in Turkish history. (1995 was the same year that Pamuk was tried along with several other authors for his support of Kurdish political rights in Turkey.) The book reads like a cross of...
[Review] Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands

[Review] Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands

Along with the G5, some friends from college, and many others who I’ve never met and have no idea where they come from, I belong to a mailing list for music lovers. We share our favorite new albums, often with brief descriptions of how we discovered them and why...
[Review] Istanbul: Memories and the City

[Review] Istanbul: Memories and the City

No matter how ill-kept, no matter how neglected or hemmed in they are by concrete monstrosities, the great mosques and other monuments of the city, as well as the lesser detritus of empire in every side street and corner – the little arches, fountains, and...

The Hip-Hop Aesthetic

I’m getting ready to write my review of Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ The Beautiful Struggle. In the same way that Kwame Dawes describes his style of writing as having a “reggae aesthetic“, it’s clear that Coates is trying to craft a hip-hop...

[Review] GraceLand

In the very first scene of the book, when the protagonist Elvis is awoken by a pounding Nigerian rainstorm, we read this: The book he had fallen asleep reading, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, fell from his side to the floor, the old paperback cracking at the...

Chris Abani at TED

I’ve been meaning to watch this video forever. There are worse things to do with 17 and a half minutes of your time. Now, time for me to go review Graceland at...
[Review] Words Without Borders

[Review] Words Without Borders

Words Without Borders: The world through the eyes of writers is less a collection of short stories and more a marvelous and inspirational entryway into the universe of global literature. The name, however, is somewhat (and I assume unintentionally) ironic as so many...