Literary Hub9 min read
In California, Visions of Defiance and Grace
When I started this column a few weeks after Donald Trump had been elected our 45th President, I knew that something had gone drastically wrong with our politics, but I couldn’t then grasp how this disquieting year would transform us. It’s been a sca
Literary Hub13 min read
After My Daughter Was Born, I Became a Spiritual Tourist
In 2010, when my daughter Zia was born, I decided that I needed to find God. I told myself that she would eventually ask me questions that I couldn’t answer—and that completely unraveled me. I was senior counsel at Google at the time, and, as a lawye
Literary Hub5 min readSociety
Are Children of Queer Families More Than Allies?
My 11-year-old daughter Annabel and I were stuck in rush hour traffic driving from our home in Cambridge to an event in Brookline when Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side started playing on the radio. Sitting in the front seat, with Annabel in the back,
Literary Hub7 min readTech
Bad Faith Backlash: Arguing Online With Everyone and No One
Everyone loved it, except for those who hated it, and no one more than everyone else. Reviews for The Last Jedi had been overwhelmingly positive, but once I looked up showtimes, a quick scroll returned ominous results: “killed my childhood”; what hap
Literary Hub11 min read
Fake Food, Fake News: On China’s For-Profit Version of Wikipedia
Just about anyone who’s ever lived in mainland China is familiar with a constant stream of “fake food” scandals. Widespread food-safety problems include reports of fake cooking oil, a ghastly concoction reprocessed from “gutter oil” collected from re
Literary Hub3 min readBiography & Memoir
For Peter Mayle, Retirement Became the Career
Many writers say “It’s all material,” but for English author Peter Mayle, who died yesterday, January 18, even the material was material: His worldwide bestselling memoir A Year in Provence evolved in no small part from the repairs on and constructio
Literary Hub5 min read
What If You Gave an Inauguration and Nobody Came?
“We’ll need to get out at Adams Morgan and walk. We’ll never make it onto the Mall, in any case.” Two of us are on our way to the inauguration of the 45th. Up until a day or two ago my plan had been to attend the event alone. I didn’t know too many p
Literary Hub7 min read
How to Write a #MeToo Story
1. Give the main character a pseudonym. Call her Helen. This is good. You need distance. You don’t feel anything like a Helen. You’ll be able to write about what happened. 2. Change the antagonist’s name. Use Rick. In real life his name was Pete, whi
Literary Hub7 min read
Can Speculative Short Fiction Really Work on TV?
We can really only handle our fictional dystopias in short-form; the world in 2018 is enough of a long-form dystopia for most of us. And the logic of a dystopian world doesn’t leave much room for any other type of story, since one factor all well-dra
Literary Hub6 min read
How Alice B. Toklas Found her Voice Through Food
In many ways, Alice B. Toklas had been preparing to write a cookbook all her life. “Cook-books have always intrigued and seduced me,” she would later admit; “when I was still a dilettante in the kitchen they held my attention, even the dull ones, fro
Literary Hub5 min readSociety
When Your Feminist Dystopia Becomes a Work of Realism
Leni Zumas didn’t set out to write a novel of our political moment. But her new book, Red Clocks, has been hailed as a sort of modern-day Handmaid’s Tale, an eerily relevant story centered on reproductive rights. While attempting to become a mother,
Literary Hub7 min read
The Literature of Bad Sex
In a roiling climate of grievances and exhumed pain, at the end of a dull and lurid year, something astonishing happened. After the unmasking of Weinstein and amid the whole sorry cavalcade of them—powerful men who’d done unconscionable things to peo
Literary Hub4 min read
I Am Different Now from the Person I Wrote in My Memoir
I wrote a book about rage, my rage. The basic narrative follows my postpartum experience and the related health issues: pelvic floor dysfunction, incontinence, hormonal imbalance, and hypothyroidism. I spent two years trying to sort out the source of
Literary Hub11 min read
John Jeremiah Sullivan: There’s No Such Thing as Wasted Writing
In a recent essay, John Jeremiah Sullivan notes that 19th-century African American stage actors commonly performed in blackface. It is, he writes, “a strange story, but this is a strange country.” The same observation could be applied to Sullivan’s o
Literary Hub8 min read
There is No Single Voice of America
Recently I got a heads-up from not one, but two separate writers of color who were kind enough to read the novel I’m publishing in April. The heads-up was about a subject that features in all of our respective works: untranslated words, specifically
Literary Hub9 min readSociety
The Conversation I’ve Been Dreading: Ijeoma Oluo Talks About Race with Her Mom
When my white mother gave birth to me, and later my brother, in Denton, Texas, she became the subject of a lot of racial commentary in her conservative southern community. But surprisingly, my mother and I had our first really substantive conversatio
Literary Hub8 min read
10 Iconic Brooklyn Books…
Betty Smith, Brooklyn native and author of nearly everyone’s first favorite book about Brooklyn—coming-of-age novels will do that for you—died 42 years ago today. To celebrate her life and literary legacy, here’s a selection of iconic books about Bro
Literary Hub13 min read
Ariel Goldberg on Criticism, Queer Art, and Polemics
Ariel Goldberg and I discussed their new book The Estrangement Principle during their last visit to the Bay Area. We have been friends for about ten years and although my feelings about their project are complicated and conflicted, I’m grateful for T
Literary Hub5 min read
5 Books Making News This Week: From History to the Future
Winners of the National Jewish Book Awards include Francine Klagsbrun’s Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel (book of the year), David Grossman’s A Horse Walks into a Bar (fiction), Carol Zoref’s Barren Island (debut fiction), and Alicia Susk
Literary Hub9 min read
Repositories of Memory: On the Country House Novel
Writers Tessa Hadley and Lucy Hughes-Hallett have known each other for years, but agree that this is the longest and most enjoyable conversation they’ve yet had. It began with an exchange of emails while Tessa was in the country, working on the final
Literary Hub6 min readArts & Languages
Good Writers Borrow, Great Writers Remix
This morning I took my cup of coffee and laptop to a desk to work on an old short story I’ve been kicking around when I made the greatest mistake any writer can make: I opened Facebook. Between posts on the current horrors of the Trump administration
Literary Hub6 min read
Dear Rick Moody: Half My Family Knows the Truth About Me
Dear Rick Moody, Life Coach, My mother and I have a near-antagonistic relationship, separated by language, distance, and cultural differences. The time we spend together is when we photograph each other for my picture-making. For her, the experience
Literary Hub8 min read
Where Does London, the City, Really End?
“We’re right on the crest of a slump,” said the football manager, in the soft west-country burr that was his career-defining gimmick. He made it sound like a boast. “Royt on the crest of a slump.” The sea did its thing. For three days, while we recov
Literary Hub10 min readPsychology
Neel Mukherjee: “Fiction Must Be a Quarrel with the Times”
Hanya Yanagihara: Well, I suppose I’m going to begin with the obvious. Your brilliant novel is—in title, structure, and fury—deliberately in conversation with V. S. Naipaul’s In a Free State. Will you talk a little about how and why your novel is a r
Literary Hub6 min read
There Can Never Be Enough Books for Small Children
In 2014, Washington, D.C. Ward 6 councilmember Charles Allen went to visit his brother in Tennessee. While there, Allen witnessed his two-year-old niece get excited when the mail came. “The mail shows up, and [my niece] goes running. . . to the mailb
Literary Hub6 min read
Literary Color Lines: On Inclusion in Publishing
In this episode of Fiction/Non/Fiction, V.V. Ganeshananthan and Whitney Terrell talk about “sensitivity reads,” cross-cultural writing, and the lack of diversity in the publishing industry with author Dhonielle Clayton (COO of We Need Diverse Books a
Literary Hub4 min readHistory
What Happens When There’s a Madman in the White House?
On Friday, June 5, President Richard Nixon finishes his usual working lunch inside the Oval Office—a canned pineapple ring topped with a scoop of cottage cheese. Now his senior aides are shuffling in, eyeing him nervously. Among them is Henry Kissing
Literary Hub11 min read
On the Decision to Publish the Largest Leak in the History of American Power
Maybe it’s a generational thing, but my eyes glaze over at the first sight of those words: Pentagon Papers. Before I knew [Washington Post editor] Ben Bradlee, whenever I saw a reference to them in a book I would reflexively start paging through to see
Literary Hub9 min readSociety
Surviving 2017 With Borges: On the Art of Wonder and Wonder of Art
In an essay from 1941 on H.G. Wells and Nazism, Jorge Luis Borges expressed surprise that the English writer who had fictively sent worlds to war was not a Nazi. “Wells, incredibly, is not a Nazi,” Borges wrote in “Two Books,” a pensive piece that wa
Literary Hub3 min read
20 Author Photos: Then and Now
One of my favorite things about skulking around old bookstores is the possibility of chancing upon a first edition of a beloved author’s early work and looking at it in its original context—not repackaged nor redesigned, not yet Made into a Major Mot
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