Anthony Domestico is an assistant professor of literature at Purchase College, SUNY.
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A typically beautiful piece by James Wood, this time a memoiristic essay on music, home, exile, and W. G. Sebald:
To supplement the magazine’s Books of the Year post, here’s my own personal list.
Commonweal readers will be excited to hear that frequent contributor Paul Elie has launched a terrific new site called Everything That Rises. (The title comes from Flannery O'Connor's collection of short stories, Everything That Rises Must Converge.)
Here are some sample posts, though the whole site is worth checking out:
There is justice in the world! It has just been announced that one of our greatest living writers, Alice Munro, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Several Commonweal contributors, including myself, have written on Munro in the recent past:
Dominic Preziosi on Dear Life
Anthony Domestico on "Haven"
Seamus Heaney, one of the greatest poets of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, has died today. He was 74.
The Guardian has some wonderful coverage--videos of Heaney reading his poetry, a slideshow of Heaney through the years, even a picture of the poet's "reading room" in his Dublin house's attic.
Here is an excerpt from "Casualty":
To celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of The Paris Review, Charlie Rose interviewed several of the many famous writers who have published in the little magazine. The half-hour segment is well worth a watch.
Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son is the best book I've read in the last year. The novel follows an everyman named Jun Do as he makes his way through the surreal, nightmarish world of Kim Jong-il's North Korea. It's a startling, totally convincing act of the imagination. Johnson has obviously done his research into labor camps, state media, and the like, but he's able to make this research come alive in a way that only the best fiction can. I can't recommend the book highly enough.
When politicians claim that there is an education crisis, they generally mean that there is a science, technology, engineering, and math crisis. If we want to remain competitive in a global economy, we're told, we need more chemists and biologists, more doctors and engineers, more inventors and innovators.
Jonathan Franzen and others on how important "likeability" is in fiction.
Endings are times of reckoning. Now that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down, it seems an appropriate moment to consider their costs. What have these wars done to the countries they were supposed to liberate? What have they revealed about the United States—both the leaders who so cavalierly led the country into long-term, unwinnable engagements and the civilians who sat so meekly by while all of this was happening? Finally, what damage have these wars caused to the bodies and minds of our soldiers?