“Only art works are capable of transmitting chthonic echo-signals,” writes Susan Howe in the foreword to her new collection, Debths, inspired in part by the Whitney’s 2011 retrospective of American artist Paul Thek. I have always been interested in folktales, magic, lost languages, riddles, coincidence, and missed connections. What struck me most was the way [Thek’s] later works, often painted swatches of color spread across sheets of newspaper with single words, phrases, or letters
Last month, the Feminist Press at CUNY and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop published Go Home!, an anthology of Asian diasporic writers exploring belonging, identity, family, place, and the myriad other topics that come into play when considering the notion of “home.” We invited the AAWW’s Ken Chen and the Feminist Press’s Jisu Kim to discuss the book with its editor, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, and contributors Amitava Kumar, Alexander Chee, and Wo Chan. The following is an edited transcript of
“The minds of the immortals rarely change,” old King Nestor tells Telemachus in Book III of The Odyssey. That may be true, but the ways that we experience and imagine those gods change regularly. Since the sixteenth century, dozens of English-language translators have traversed the epics of archaic Hellas, and all of them have returned with their own unique account: Blank verse, couplets, and prose are all available portals into Homer. But few have internalized the old cliche, “Translation is
Overseas, Jenny Erpenbeck’s latest novel has carried her to fresh levels of acclaim. She’s won not only the Thomas Mann Prize, in her native Germany, but also Italy’s Strega Europeo, something of a Booker for the Continent. Now the book is out in this country, under the title Go, Went, Gone, and though Erpenbeck’s four previous have won critical esteem—the New York Review of Books deemed her last novel “ferocious as well as virtuosic”—here, too, the new work could well generate broader recognition.
In the weeks before my departure, I spent hours explaining Turkey’s international relevance to my bored loved ones, no doubt deploying the cliché that Istanbul was the bridge between East and West. At first, my family was not exactly thrilled for me; New York had been vile enough in their minds. My brother’s reaction to the news that I won this generous fellowship was something like, “See? I told you she was going to get it,” as if it had been a threat he’d been warning the home front about. My
A pregnant couple transitioning from a single room situation to an extra room situation . . . a pair of grown siblings who’d already evacuated their geriatric parents into a nursing home from out of a classic 6 condo they were looting. . . The customers: they’d be leading the way in a taxi up front and the moving truck, a boxtruck or tractortrailer, would follow just behind—taking the transverse through the Park, crosstown. From where the sun rises on the Upper East, to where it sets on the
The basement felt warmer than the garage. Down the Kagwa boys went. The basement sat as one grand open plane. In the far corner stood the boiler—a large white cylinder with a blue control panel, copper pipes running up into the ceiling and a silver tube running outside through the wall. It looked like something from the set of James Whale’s Frankenstein. The boiler rumbled now as if reanimating life. In the opposite corner sat the washing machine and the dryer, and beside the two machines lay
I remember exactly where I was on that sunny day in 2007 when it was reported that inter-bank lending had frozen. Bankers knew that their peers were bust, and could not be trusted to honour their obligations. I then naively believed that friends would get the message. I also hoped in vain that the economics profession as a whole would add its voice to those few that warned of catastrophe. Not so. Apart from readers of the Financial Times, and of course some speculators in the finance sector
It was not just the suddenness of his death that made it hard to realize Louis Kahn was gone. Something about the way he disappeared from the world—irregularly, mysteriously, with that strange two-day gap when nobody he knew could find him—left many people unable to take in the facts of his death. For the California relatives, who learned about Lou’s death through a series of relayed phone calls, there was a persistent confusion about where and how he had died. Decades later, Kahn’s niece,
That summer I would ride my bike over the bridge, lock it up in front of one of the bars on Orchard Street and drift through the city on foot, recording. People and places. Sidewalk smokers, lovers’ quarrels, drug deals. I wanted to store the world and play it back just as I’d found it, without change or addition. I collected audio of thunderstorms, music coming out of cars, the subway trains rumbling underfoot; it was all reality, a quality I had lately begun to crave, as if I were deficient in
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