“Reading today seems to be a forgotten pastime. Perhaps avid readers of newspapers and magazines would disagree, but literary fiction and the articles filling newspapers and magazines are quite different. The latter forms tend to deal with the issues of the present day, as they should.””
Reading today seems to be a forgotten pastime. Perhaps avid readers of newspapers and magazines would disagree, but literary fiction and the articles filling newspapers and magazines are quite different. The latter forms tend to deal with the issues of the present day, as they should.
We live in a historic era. We witnessed the Sept. 11 attacks, numerous wars in obscure countries and the election of our country’s first black President. But the documentation of this age is not to be found in the pages of Time or Newsweek; the true spirit, the diversity and turmoil of an era is recorded in its literature.
The problems of our period of history are great and our literature is beginning to reflect that pain. In a time where Americans are continually growing more aware of other cultures, it is fitting that a wave of diverse literature is growing.
Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 2008. Toni Morrison’s A Mercy appeared in late 2008 and Alla Al Aswany, an Egyptian author, had his novel Chicago published in English in 2007. Other acclaimed titles include the late Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth, and Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence. Adiga and Rushdie are Indian authors living abroad and Lahiri is an American author of Bengali Indian descent. Bolaño was born and lived in Spain.
These authors come from all parts of the world. Their experiences are different and yet there is something familiar about them, because we can relate to them. We know their experiences because we share in them. Tragedy is never an isolated event-it bonds humans from across the earth together.
If we are to comprehend our era then we must have a knowledge of the current events-from newspapers and magazines-and understand how our world works, how humanity differs from and relates to each other. We must soak up the literature of our age. Read articles from all newspapers, from all points of view and read novels from all nations and all religions. We live in America but are no longer in the age of isolationism. We have a responsibility to know our neighbors, to love them as ourselves. Novels have always been and will remain an incredible way to gain insight into the lives and struggles of people all across the globe.