Saturday, October 20, 2007

My Essay in Minnesota Review: "Republics of the Imagination"

I have an essay in the latest Minnesota Review. The journal has posted the entire issue online, not behind a subscription firewall (Why don't more journals do this?). There's also an interview with Noam Chomsky, and an essay by Lennard Davis on Edward Said.

My essay is here; it was originally called "Republics of the Imagination: Afghan and Iranian Expatriate Writers," before being shortened (de-colonified?) to the less bulky "Republics of the Imagination." It incorporates some of the material I've used in talks on The Kite Runner at various colleges and universities over the past couple of years. It also contains a defense of Reading Lolita in Tehran, which I think is a compelling and important book, that weaves together of memoir and literary criticism in some very original ways (it is also not at all some kind of pro-American sell-out, as some detractors have tried to suggest). Finally, I speculate on the fact that so many of the narratives coming out of both Iran and Afghanistan have been prose memoirs, not novels or poetry.

You might also check out the interview with the Iranian novelist Farnoosh Moshiri, one of the writers I talk about in the essay.

Any feedback?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

9/11 Fiction, Haleh Esfandiari, Khaled Hosseini's new novel

My brother recently got married, and I've been away from my computer for about a week. (Congratulations, guys!)

I'm starting to catch up on some of the recent "bloggable" reviews. Here are some things to read:

1. Michiko Kakutani's positive review of Khaled Hosseini's new novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns.

2. After reading Pankaj Mishra's long review of Don DeLillo's new novel, Falling Man, I'm contemplating teaching a class (this coming fall?) on 9/11 Fiction. A number of the potential authors for such a course are talked about in Mishra's review -- Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist might be included, as might Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections (published on 9/11, it's technically a 'pre 9/11' text, but its subject matter goes nicely with the topic).

3. I'm not sympathetic to the overall conservative/hawkish point of view expressed in this recent piece in the New York Times, but I'm very unhappy about the recent arrest of the Iranian-American intellectual Haleh Esfandiari in Iran.

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