In March of 1960, white cops massacred 69 unarmed blacks in Sharpeville, South Africa. In 1961, uMkhonto we Sizwe [Spear of the Nation] was co-founded by Nelson Mandela to fight back against white racist rule. In 1964, Mandela was sentenced to life in prison. In 1976, between 176 and 700 black protesters were killed by... Read More
In the visual arts, there’s Egon Schiele who died at 28, Seurat at 31, and the photographer Francesca Woodman, who leapt from a window of a Lower East Side building at just 22 years of age. In literature, there’s Hart Crane. Chugging from Mexico to NYC on a steamship, the 32-year-old poet couldn’t help but... Read More
Though Flannery O’Connor didn’t live long, she left us some of the best stories ever written. It’s impossible to overpraise “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” “The Displaced Person,” “The Artificial Nigger,” “Good Country People,” “Everything That Rises Must Converge” and “Revelation.” O’Connor’s liberal usage of... Read More
Many literary classics you encounter too early in life, often as a class assignment in college or even high school. With almost no life experience, you can’t fully grasp their deeper meanings. Nothing prevents you from rereading them much later, however, and a masterful work should be revisited again and again. I don’t know how... Read More
My illness is mostly over, I think. There’s still residual coughing, weak, tremulous breathing and difficulty sleeping, but I’ve been able to walk for miles each day, a restorative act that gets my blood flowing, and, of course, seeing people lifts my spirits. Here in Tirana, there are enough benches and green spaces to rest,... Read More
A Saigon McDonald’s is hardly the ideal place to muse about Kafka, but that’s where I am, because I crave ketchup this morning, and I have just enough free time to pose as a writer. Running ragged, I spent this past week hosting two Korean salesmen. They’re in Vietnam for Metalex, a trade convention of... Read More
As writer or thinker, Jack London can’t touch George Orwell, but he’s nearly the Brit’s equal when it comes to describing society’s bottom. To both, being a writer is as much a physical as an intellectual endeavor. Wading into everything, they braved all discomforts and dangers. This attitude has become very rare, and not just... Read More
Born in Vietnam in 1963, Linh Dinh came to the US in 1975, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). He has been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, among other places. He is also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (2006). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. His writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and he has been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Reykjavik, Toronto and all over the US, and has also published widely in Vietnamese.