From the Archives: Unlike the memoirist, who promises to tell the truth, the fiction writer says, “I am going to tell you a lie, but at the end you will feel it is true.” He or she is a kind of magician who makes sure you know the flames are only an illusion before letting you burn your fingers.
Germany’s literary superstar Günter Grass is obsessed with the past. His second memoir, The Box, challenges readers to distinguish between fact and fiction in latter half of the author’s life. His unconventional approach might undermine the memoir form, but the result is a compelling account of Grass’ compulsion to write.
In The Cat’s Table, Ondaatje returns to Sri Lanka as the story follows three boys who, along with a cast of eccentrics, make their way from Colombo to England. By turns adventurous, mysterious, and wistful, the novel traces the search for belonging amidst strangers and strange lands. Charlotte Boulay considers Ondaatje’s latest beautiful offering in the context of his larger body of work.
What is the difference between art and life, between the writer and the writing? In this essay on the late, great Andre Dubus, we learn how Dubus recognized “transformative moments” as authors Richard Ford and Anne Beattie, among others, weigh in on his talents, and his legacy.
Last week, news sources everywhere reported that the popular blog “Gay Girl in Damascus” was not, in fact, written by a Syrian lesbian named Amina Arraf. Nor, as the blog claimed recently, had Amina been arrested by Syrian police. In fact, the blog was written by a 40-year-old American grad student, Tom MacMaster, who is living in Scotland. Amina does not exist. According to NPR, in his apology post on the blog, MacMaster defends himself by claiming he was writing fiction: I never expected this level of attention. While the narrative voıce may have been fictional, the facts on thıs […]
Andrew Krivak spent eight years preparing to become a Jesuit priest before he turned to writing. He talks with Steven Wingate about his debut novel The Sojourn, borrowing from family history, and the spiritual nature of the sniper’s profession.
In conversation with Anne Stameshkin, debut author Erika Dreifus shares true stories that inspired her collection, Quiet Americans; wonders when it’s kosher for authors to write characters from backgrounds they don’t share; explores how reviewing books makes us better fiction writers; and recommends favorite novels and collections by 21st-century Jewish authors.
Have you noticed that more and more often, writer bios emphasize everything about the author’s life but writing? Authors list their credentials from the odd jobs they’ve worked: door-to-door knife salesman, pig farmer, department store perfume-sprayerokay, I made those up, but pick up virtually any book by an up-and-coming author and you’ll see that they’re not far afield. Writer Edan Lepucki discusses this phenomenon in an insightful essay on The Millions: Or is my annoyance at the non-standard bio about something else? With the authors who have held a dozen, motley jobs, I worry that book writing is just a […]
Reading Deanna Fei’s debut novel, A Thread of Sky, rescued Kate Levin from a giant post-MFA funk. In this conversation with Levin, Fei discusses the role cultural identity plays in a writer’s persona and work, the value of unknowability, the secret to writing great sex scenes, the reason she watches Jersey Shoreand more.