My September column is up at PopMatters. Stories by: Roxane Gay (JFK); Jeff VanderMeer (Jeb Bush); Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Melania Trump); George Saunders (Abraham Lincoln); Curtis Sittenfeld (Hillary Clinton.) These fictional works about the personal lives of American politicians' (and a spouse, in one case) are well-crafted and show us unusual but highly believable aspects of their personalities. Also, there's an introductory section about why political fiction (in books, on screen, on stage) matters.
The Great Indian Novel (TGIN) has been an old, thorny debate among Indian literati for decades now. With literature spanning centuries in many languages and across class/caste/region divides, there has never been any consensus on what makes for truly great Indian literature. And, certainly, Indian writing in English, particularly fiction, continues to have its ups and downs. During the years when there are international awards, everyone is happy. During the years when the pickings are far too slim, as with this year, there is muttering and hissing about how bad all English fiction in India can be.
My review of Roxane Gay's short story collection, Ayiti, is up at PopMatters. There's something subversively bullish about a debut short story collection that's first published by a small indie press mostly unknown to the larger reading and publishing world and then, when the writer goes on to prove her chops in various genres, is re-published by a larger publishing house. Same book (with just a few changes), same writer. Which only goes to show how unreliable and short-sighted the many tastemakers and gatekeepers of the publishing industry can be.