Happy weekend before Thanksgiving! I wish you only the calmest and pleasantest of election-related extended-family kerfuffles. To prepare yourself — or to escape from them for a little while — you might like something to read. We’ve got you covered. Here’s a selection of the best writing about books and related subjects on the internet for the week of November 14, 2016.
- The New Yorker asked a number of writers to respond to Donald Trump’s election, including Toni Morrison, Junot Díaz, and Gary Shteyngart. It’s a long article, but it’s well worth reading. Here’s an excerpt from Díaz’s response:
I believe that, once the shock settles, faith and energy will return. Because let’s be real: we always knew this shit wasn’t going to be easy. Colonial power, patriarchal power, capitalist power must always and everywhere be battled, because they never, ever quit. We have to keep fighting, because otherwise there will be no future — all will be consumed. Those of us whose ancestors were owned and bred like animals know that future all too well, because it is, in part, our past. And we know that by fighting, against all odds, we who had nothing, not even our real names, transformed the universe. Our ancestors did this with very little, and we who have more must do the same. This is the joyous destiny of our people — to bury the arc of the moral universe so deep in justice that it will never be undone.
- Zadie Smith’s new book Swing Time came out this week! (We loved it.) She also did a “By the Book” interview with the New York Times, and it is a delight:
Q: If you could befriend any author, dead or alive, who would it be?
A: Zora Neale Hurston. Our thing would be striding into literary parties looking severe while wearing very fine hats, followed by getting drunk, followed by getting food in Chinatown at 2 in the morning.
- Public Books has built a comprehensive 15-week syllabus to help us all understand Trump.
- If you don’t have 15 weeks to devote to deconstructing Trumpism but would still like a reading list, you could do worse than to start with this week’s National Book Award winners, which examine America’s legacy of racism from all angles. Vulture has the winners’ acceptance speeches to give you a sense of their sensibilities:
I spent years looking at the absolute worst of America: its horrific history of racism. But in the end, I never lost faith. The terror of racism, I never lost faith that the terror of racism would one day end. I never lost faith because for every racist idea, there was an anti-racist idea. For every killer of the mind, for every killer of the mind there was a life saver of the mind. And in the midst of the human ugliness of racism, there was the human beauty, there is the human beauty in the resistance to racism.
- And LitHub has a list of books you should read by and about Muslims:
It’s a small way to understand and empathize with a group of your fellow Americans who desperately need the understanding and empathy of their countrymen and women. (Consider giving them as holiday gifts to relatives who voted for Trump.) It is also important, whenever we can, to amplify the voices of the oppressed. (Consider buying them and donating them to schools.) Oh, and another thing? These books are just good. They are good books, and you will enjoy them, all politics aside.
- If the worst comes, futurist Stewart Brand has compiled a list of all the books necessary to rebuild civilization after an apocalypse.
- More frivolously, the Guardian has the shortlist for this year’s bad sex writing award.
- Would you like to see something beautiful this week? The University of Aberdeen has digitized an illuminated medieval bestiary, so you can look at all kinds of gilded illustrations of bats and doves and hyenas.