“I think of all the recent research that shows us that our notion of conscious decision-making is a post hoc rationalization of something that’s happening in the non-verbal portion of our brain, which is way more powerful than our conscious portion, or how limited our ability to be congnitive is.”
“What’s beautiful about translation is that it forces us to contend with that truth: that we are selecting one of many options. Or, that we can potentially see many options at once. Because, as you say, we’re moving to the side, we’re looking at it through an imperfect lens, or a lens that makes visible the imperfection of looking.”
“There’s no emotional implication for the writer or reader, but an opportunity to talk about horrors”: Jacob Paul and Hayden Carrón discuss Adolfo García Ortrega’s The Birthday Buyer in the context of the Spanish Holocaust novel.
Alexandra Chasin’s second novel, Brief, takes the form of the oral legal brief of an unnamed and ungendered “J. Wanton,” a “vandella,” petitioning an also unnamed judge for clemency in an elided case of art vandalism.
“We create things that we hope will, someday, become objects of value. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, many writers–Foer, DeLillo, and Roth, to name just a few–all came out with 9/11 novels. I was initially bothered by this. I wanted to say, ‘Fuck you; I was there.’ This passed for a couple reasons. First was the realization that we’re all survivors of one type or another. Second, these texts can never really become authoritative positions on the experiences of a group of people, no matter how well written they are or how well credentialed their creators might be. There’s no uniform experience of being a 9/11 survivor, no uniform experience of being a woman. These are things that can’t be owned by anyone.”
Jacob Paul’s debut, Sarah/Sara, is not a joyful read, but it is a deeply moving one. The novel unfolds as the journal of Sarah Frankel, an American-born Jew who, shortly after finishing college, moved to Israel, where she took the Hebrew version of her name (“Sara,” pronounced Sah-rah) and became far more ritually observant than she was raised to be. After her visiting parents are killed in a suicide bombing in the café below her Jerusalem apartment, Sara embarks on a six-week, solo kayaking trip through the Arctic. Throughout the beautiful yet dangerous trek, Sarah’s thoughts turn not only to her past—memories—but also to an imagined future, one that challenges her faith.
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