Joan Didion

“Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.”

― Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

Svetlana Alexievich
Svetlana Alexievich

“What can art accomplish? The purpose of art is to accumulate the human within the human being.”

— Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel Banquet, December 2015

An essay by Chantel Tattoli for The Daily blog of The Paris Review.

Free Public Event • 6 December 2016, Cardiff University
Design and Photography: Rhys Tranter
Design and Photography: Rhys Tranter

This year, Professor Diana Wallace (University of South Wales) will be presenting the Assuming Gender Annual Lecture at Cardiff University. The lecture will explore a tradition of Gothic historical fictions stretching from Sophia Lee in the eighteenth century to Sarah Waters in the twenty-first century. Conscious that women have often been left out of traditional historical narratives, Wallace suggests that Gothic historical fiction offers a mode of writing which can both reinsert women into history and symbolise their exclusion. (more…)

Source: The Guardian.

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Bim Adewunmi shares her admiration for the British novelist and essayist:

“Smith, now 40, is a confidently quiet writer – sly and witty and acid sharp – who always draws a world that looks like the real one; it’s a welcome skill set in the often monochrome world of UK publishing. Away from long-form, Smith also writes short stories, interviews and journalism (I urge you to read her warm profile of comedians Key and Peele). But it’s her essays – covering ground from familial loss to comedy, advertising and city living – that I love the best. She’s smart, and she doesn’t hide it.”

More at The Guardian.

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Octavia Butler

Well, no. But, nonetheless, her late-1990s dystopian novel, The Parable of the Talents, anticipates troubling undercurrents in the culture of the United States. And there are some noteworthy similarities to the 2016 presidential election. Open Culture reports:

“[I]n the second book of her Earthseed series, The Parable of the Talents (1998), Hugo and Nebula-award winning science fiction writer Octavia Butler gave us Senator Andrew Steele Jarret, a violent autocrat in the year 2032 whose ‘supporters have been known… to form mobs.’ Jarret’s political opponent, Vice President Edward Jay Smith, “calls him a demagogue, a rabble-rouser, and a hypocrite,’ and—most presciently—he rallies his crowds with the call to ‘make America great again.'”

The article also finds Trump predictors in a host of other pop culture sources, from The Simpsons to the Back to the Future franchise.

More at Open Culture.

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“Three very influential artists are partaking in the making of an upcoming Netflix miniseries. The first is Margaret Atwood, providing source material through her based-on-a-true-story crime novel, Alias Grace. The second is writer/director/actor Sarah Polley — known for her beautiful documentary Stories We Tell her odd, contemplative rom-com, Take This Waltz, and her Oscar nominated drama, Away From Her. According to Deadline, she’ll be writing and producing. And the third is American Psycho‘s Mary Harron, who’ll be directing.”

More at Flavorwire.

Source: Harriet: The Blog.

“Canadian author says she is humbled to accept reward and is praised by judges for championing environmental and human rights causes”

More at The Guardian.

Now, you can download all 239 issues of the landmark UK feminist magazine free-of-charge. Source: Open Culture.

“What I didn’t know then that I know now is that art is deeply and necessarily political. Women’s authorship is a fundamentally radical instrument, which promises to rewrite the terms of everyone’s socialisation. From Mary Wollstonecraft to Charlotte Brontë, from Virginia Woolf to Judith Butler, the history of feminism is almost indistinguishable from the history of women writers, and of women writers writing about writing.”

More at Marie Thouaille’s All the Single Writing Ladies.

Alison Flood (The Guardian) reports on a petition that rejects traditional English curriculum at Yale
Undergraduates at Yale University have launched a petition calling on the English department to abolish a core course requirement to study canonical writers including Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton, saying that “it is unacceptable that a Yale student considering studying English literature might read only white male authors”.

The prestigious Connecticut university requires its English majors to spend two semesters studying a selection of authors it labels the “major English poets”: “Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, and John Donne in the fall; John Milton, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth, and TS Eliot or another modern poet in the spring”. (more…)

“Betty Friedan, the godmother of the postwar US women’s movement, was an accidental feminist. “Until I started writing [The Feminine Mystique]” she confessed in 1973, “I wasn’t even conscious of the woman problem.” Friedan had begun her research into “the problem that has no name” – a catchy homage to “the love that dare not speak its name” of Oscar Wilde’s fin-de-siècle disgrace – as part of her work for a questionnaire of her former college classmates on their 15th reunion in 1957, thinking that she would “disprove the current notion that education had fitted us ill for our role as women”.”

More at The Guardian.

The novelist on unusual cinema experiences, LGBTQ history and the genius of Happy Valley (Source: The Guardian).