In recent weeks, President Trump’s administration announced major changes to the US immigration system. Politically, immigration in the US has always been a hornet’s nest with both the Left and the Right using conflicting arguments to suit their specific agendas at any given point in time. Brexit has highlighted how immigration has become more than a deep-rooted concern in Europe. In his essay, Reflections on Exile, Edward Said described different immigrant categories — exile, refugee, expatriate, and émigré. Whatever category an immigrant may fall into, he/she has to constantly redefine and renegotiate his/her socio-cultural and geopolitical identities. This ongoing complex, scary, and messy tussle is both personal and political and is often not explicitly understood by even the person trying to cope with it. Here is a stellar collection of short stories — by Bernard Malamud, Amy Tan, Anzia Yezierska, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Oindrila Mukherjee — revealing and highlighting exactly this dynamic. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads for August 2017
This month’s collection of short stories is related to travel. There are five new stories and five that I have featured in past months and am resharing in case you missed them earlier — all free to read online, just click the titles. The traveler-writers included here: Jack London, Virginia Woolf, John Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, Nanjil Nadan, Joy Williams, Reem Abu-Baker, Meron Hadero, Goli Taraghi, and one of my own published earlier this year.
For me, travel has always been a more purposeful endeavor beyond a change of scenery or relaxation or checking off a to-do hotspot — beyond “tourism,” really. This is also why solo trips work best for me (and I know they also work best for my family members.) In these times, going somewhere new ought to be about a deeper personal transformation and not simply about eating, shopping, and being waited upon while rushing from one place to the next taking a gazillion photos. We can do most of this now from the comfort of our homes. Global cuisine is now delivered or cooked locally, Amazon offers everything from all corners of the world, a tap of a phone app brings an army of service providers to our doorsteps, and Google/Flickr has a treasure trove of photos better than anything a layperson can manage.
Taking in an underground play in East Berlin shortly after the Wall came down, cruising the Loch Ness at midnight, driving cross-country through national parks and small-town USA, sharing bread and cheese with a French gardener in a near-deserted country chateau in Dijon, meeting writers from around the world at the Jaipur Literary Festival, practicing Yoga in the mountains near the Himalayas — these are the kinds of travel experiences where I have met the most interesting people, collected fascinating stories of past and present, and, most importantly, learned more about the world and myself in conscious, mindful, and transformational ways. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads for July 2017
With this new series, I plan to share my favorite writing how-to books. Not all of them will be “how-to” books in the traditional sense. And not all of them will be the popular bestselling kind either. These are books that have helped me with my own writing (particularly literary fiction but also overall) and ones that I revisit from time to time. What draws me back again and again is both the content and the writing style. For me, these books have been invaluable in my personal DIY MFA curricula (more on this in a separate post later.) [Note: I might also share a handful of online blogs/sites/columns/podcasts that have been helpful.] Continue reading Booknotes: Favorite Writing How-to Books Part 1
For me, the best “horror” story fits this description by Neil Gaiman: “I like horror, but I tend to like it as seasoning. I’d get very bored if I was told I had to write a horror novel. I’d love to write a novel with horror elements, but, too much, and it doesn’t taste of anything else.” So, here are some terrific horror short stories by Usman Malik, Alyssa Wong, Ruskin Bond, Kelly Link, and Stephen King. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads from October 2016
Actually, 10 works of flash fiction (<1000 words) instead of the usual 5 short stories, with featured authors like: Grace Paley, Lydia Davis, Naomi Shihab Nye, Andres Neuman, Hugh Behm-Steinberg, Ana María Shua, Bret Anthony Johnston, Sejal Shah, Hannah Bottomy Voskuil, and Jim Heynen. Enjoy. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads from September 2016