For The Washington Post, I reviewed Azar Nafisi’s new book Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times: “Her observations implicate both adherents of Make America Great Again and their political foes. She sounds alarms about the alienating effects of technology as well as ideology, conjoined twins in preventing us from seeing the full humanity of those we disagree with.”
The Washington Post – It just so happened that Qiu Xiaolong was in St. Louis when the Chinese government massacred pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989. A T.S. Eliot translator, Qiu had won a grant to conduct research at Washington University, founded by Eliot’s grandfather. Because of that chance timing, his life diverted dramatically. Publicly sympathetic to the protesters, Qiu never made it back to China, except as a visitor. Instead, he became a U.S. citizen and a novelist in English, the author of a popular mystery series about a Shanghai police detective named Inspector Chen.
Outcomes like his own, the accidental kind, befall many of the characters in “Years of Red Dust,” Qiu’s witty, evocative book of interrelated short stories just published in English. Read my review of the book for The Washington Post.
In Laura Restrepo’s novel about Argentina’s Dirty War, the tragic is hidden amid ordinariness, like the secret prisons of the country’s military dictators. Read my review in The Washington Post.