read this week: Mon 26th Sept

“This recent, layered, global history has led to a higher visibility of non-white, non-Western voices in the Western metropolitan publication scenes of New York, London and Paris. The content within contemporary multiethnic fiction often talks of identity, home and displacement; they ask questions like who has power and voice and who gets marginalized or silenced, these ideas fleshed out obsessively in stories through plot, theme, form, language, or a combination. …Orality here becomes a political stance, an ideological move reminding the reader over and again that what we consume as universal in story craft, literary history, or aesthetic taste is anything but universal.”

“But, reading Tate, I was drawn to his sense of otherness; he wrote from a perspective that felt both inside and outside. … For a generation of critics, Tate’s career has served as a reminder that diversity isn’t just about a splash of color in the group photo; it’s about the different ways that people see, feel, and move within the world.”

“It is important at this juncture that I describe what I mean by “accessible.” I don’t mean easy, or non-threatening, or artistically bereft. Another word I could use, perhaps, is expected. But this word doesn’t quite capture the relationship of the minority artist in the West — the black artist, the African artist — to a society that only grudgingly accepts her and the art she produces. It can be said that black artists who live in the United States or produce art that is consumed in the United States are “expected” to create certain kinds of art, but the reason these expectations exist is because some black artist has produced a pioneering work that, for any number of reasons, garners significant attention and is thus perceived by a predominantly white Western audience as the height of black achievement, the precise standard that every other black artist in the same field must strive to achieve in order for their work to be accessible to an audience that otherwise knows next to nothing about the community the black artist has emerged from. … Without realizing it, I had been a translator for the entirety of my reading life. I’d translated each of those blue-eyed, blonde-haired characters — or those African-Americans who were like me, but not quite — into people who resembled me and the rest of my family, who spoke and dressed and prayed the same way we did, and before long this act of perpetual translation had become an invisible, subconscious, inevitable part of my engagement with literature. What I am trying to say is that reading Adichie was, in many ways, like glancing at a mirror and finally, after many long years, recognizing myself.”

“Dinh’s exploration of queer masculinity and desire alongside the sprawling traumatic effects of war, postcolonialism, and natural disaster is a fascinating and subversive move. After Disasters is a disaster novel that transcends: grappling with universal questions of mortality and romance while paying careful attention to the particularities of history and identity.”

“That feminist trauma theory emerged directly as a critique of psychiatry and psychological ‘knowledge’ seems to be a conveniently buried history on both sides of the trigger warning wars. Assimilating the medical industrial complex’s categories might signal a break with a trauma’s framework first articulated by the feminist and the antiwar movements in the 1960s. Trigger warnings reflect a preoccupation with the therapeutic in everyday life and a psychiatric industry that paints a very different history of itself. Although trigger warnings do not entirely reify the medicalisation of trauma, they do tend to submerge trauma’s roots in feminist trauma theory.”

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