The question of what makes a classic a classic is one that has occupied literary theorists and literature lovers for centuries. From Homer's The Iliad to the entire back-catalogue of Charles Dickens, none of us will escape encounters with the 'classics' of literary canon and the weighty prestige that this label carries. I am a self-proclaimed lover … Continue reading What Makes A Classic A Classic?
In Elif Shafak's excellent TED talk on the ways in which fiction can combat the restrictions of culturally-boundaried identity, the author discusses her own history of literary controversy and its intersection with political censorship. Shafak - a Turkish author, whose most recent work deals with the story of a murdered sex worker - is no … Continue reading Monday Musing: Literary Censorship And Political Control
"These were the hidden violences. Day-long deaths that snuffed out our small and limited futures. Since we grew up around London towers, struggle was a standard echo in our speech, in thought, in action. But it was only after the release of that one video, clipped from a phone of a witness, that everyone else … Continue reading Review: In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne
Another month has flown by and it seems that we're heading unrelentingly into summer. Summer in the US midwest is actually the setting for some incredibly productive reading time. If possible, I become even more reclusive than in the winter, as part of a desperate attempt to avoid the heat. Not only am I completely … Continue reading The Monthly Reader: May 2019
It has been an excellent couple of years for dystopian fiction. The closer we feel to the brink of humanistic and political catastrophe, the more we turn to fictional dystopias, as though to torment ourselves with the preponderance of warnings to stay alert to the erosion - however gradual - of the freedoms that we … Continue reading Monday Musing: Why We Love Dystopian Fiction In A World Of ‘Alternative Facts’
"Sakamochi clapped his hands a few times and admonished, 'All right, all right, all right, quiet down, everyone!' The uproar quickly subsided, and he continued. 'Okay, I'll explain. We've had you come here for one and only one reason'. Then: 'Today, you're all going to kill each other'. This time, no outburst came. The students … Continue reading Review: Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Of all the challenges that we face as individuals, grief is perhaps the most universal. There are few - if any - people able to get through life without experiencing loss, making grief an inevitability for all of us. I am lucky to have reached 30 without losing any of the people close to me … Continue reading Bibliotherapy For Grief: Fiction Recommendations For Tough Times
I took some time away from The Book Habit last week, largely because I was determined to get through Koushun Takami's very lengthy novel, Battle Royale. Scheduling reads around reviews is always a challenge - particularly when you have a 700-page book calling your name. Battle Royale was an interesting pick for me. Although I typically go in for … Continue reading Monday Musing: The Case For Graphic Violence In Fiction
It's no secret that I love a good adaptation. I spent much of my teenage years on the verge of an incredibly unhealthy obsession with Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy (who am I kidding? It was sufficiently extreme that I performed a pilgrimage to the lake from his infamous diving scene). While I've yet … Continue reading The Best TV And Film Adaptations Of Classic Novels
There are many contemporary online trends - particularly those that have to do with social media - that cast a problematic light on the way that consumers interact with the work that they're consuming. Social media has brought us closer than ever before to the people from whom art emerges - musicians, authors, and other … Continue reading Monday Musing: Should Authors Be Exempt From ‘Cancel Culture’?