Propaganda alert: America.gov, a Web site of the State Department, is publishing essays from the latest edition of its eJournal USA, which this month focuses on multicultural aspects of American literature. Among those included are Ha Jin (whose excellent essay collection The Writer as Migrant is excerpted), Marie Arana, Gerald Early, and Akhil Sharma.
Responding the Stuart Evers‘ celebration of American English in the Guardian, D.G. Myers has a few thoughts on how the language shifts depending on whether you’re in the South or whether you’re Philip Roth.
Harriet E. Wilson, author of what’s presumed to be the first novel by an African American woman, 1859’s Our Nig, was recently learned to be a hair-product entrepreneur.
Writing in the New York Review of Books, Ian McEwan studies how John Updike invented Rabbit Angstrom’s middle-class nobility: “Harry’s education extends no further than high school, his view is further limited by a range of prejudices and a stubborn, combative spirit, and yet he is the vehicle for a half-million-word meditation on postwar American anxiety, failure, and prosperity. A mode had to be devised to make this possible, and that involved pushing beyond the bounds of realism. In a novel like this, Updike insisted, you have to be generous and allow your characters eloquence, “and not chop them down to what you think is the right size.”
Lastly, if your reading choices are largely dictated by the number of awards a book has pulled in, this should come in handy.