Courtesy Park Jaehong
Han Kang’s fierce, fresh fiction has the book world abuzz: The Vegetarian, her first novel to be translated from Korean to English, won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. It is one of “The 10 Best Books of 2016,” according to the New York Times Book Review.It is ripe with searing imagery that won’t soon leave you. So, too, is Human Acts—a second, related novel now available in English thanks to The Vegetarian translator Deborah Smith. In ...
Courtesy Isan Brant
Writing about the simple life proved anything but for immersive journalist Mark Sundeen.
His original manuscript—an unadorned account of three couples who, in varying ways, have opted out of everyday American consumerism—was accepted and revised when he withdrew it from publisher Riverhead Books.
“I had a close friend read it, call me, and say, I stopped reading at page 175 because I couldn’t figure out why you’d written this book,” says Sundeen, author of The Unsettlers: In Search of ...
Shanthi Sekaran photographed by Daniel Grisales.
An undocumented immigrant’s struggle to regain parental rights over her American-born son fostered a novel idea for Shanthi Sekaran.
“It was one particular story of a Guatemalan woman who was having her child adopted away from her and was trying to get him back,” says Sekaran, who heard the news on NPR. “With a news report, you get a three-minute, four-minute synopsis at most, and I wanted to understand what was going on—why both parties, on either side of ...
“For starters, why did we ever pretend novels by straight white guys about straight white guys spoke for entire generations?”
—Tony Tulathimutte, author of Private Citizens, “Why There’s No ‘Millenial’ Novel,” in the New York Times
“Losing a teenager to [Edwidge] Danticat is not really losing a teenager. The child that re-emerged was a bit deeper, a bit kinder.”
—Jacqueline Woodson, on her daughter’s reading habits, “A Year in Reading: Jacqueline Woodson” at The ...
Nikki Grimes photographed by Aaron Lemen.
When the opportunity to read aloud arises, acclaimed poet Nikki Grimes shines.
“Oh, I love to read, whether it’s to a single person or an audience,” says Grimes, who spoke with Kirkus by phone from her home in Corona, California. “I’ve found that we really don’t grow out of the love of being read to—I have friends who occasionally call to ask me to read them something.”
In the course of the interview, she offers to read aloud ...
Javaka Steptoe photographed by Gregg Richards.
“Radiant, wild, a genius child” are just some of the words people use to describe Jean-Michel Basquiat.
“There’s this narrative where people speak about Basquiat—he’s primitive, he’s a wild child,” says Javaka Steptoe, the author and illustrator of Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.
But that narrative belies the intention behind the postmodernist painter’s bold, brilliant art, he says: “It’s because of the drugs, it’s because he has a mental illness—it’s everything but him. No one ...
Nicole Dennis-Benn photographed by Emma Benn
In 2010, Nicole Dennis-Benn took a Jamaican vacation. But she wasn’t a typical tourist.
“Growing up there, I had this image of what Jamaica is,” says Dennis-Benn, who was born and raised in Kingston, the nation’s capital and largest city. “When I visited for the first time as a tourist, at the resort, I wasn’t getting the real culture—it was a performance. I knew for sure that these individuals were going home to nothing after giving us the fantasy ...
Ha Jin photographed by Jerry Bauer.
Though his writing is censored in his native country, Ha Jin says he fails to qualify for full boat-rocker status.
“No, I’m much tamer,” says the National Book Award-winning author, who calls his latest novel The Boat Rocker. In Chinese, he clarifies, that phrase comes across as less iconoclast, more troublemaker—someone whom others would do well to avoid. However, he shares one important distinction with the book’s investigative journalist protagonist.
They’re both blacklisted.
“I’ve been in the States for ...