How many Chinese babies adopted into white families do you need to start a fire? In Celeste Ng’s second novel, “Little Fires Everywhere,” perhaps more than one. In the small-town community of Shaker Heights, Ohio, everything is carefully curated to reflect the values of the progressive but no longer existing sect that once thrived there.
The fragment – that white-spaced text – has been in vogue of late. From music critic Ted Gioia’s claim that “novels are falling to pieces” to Maggie Nelson revolutionizing the form with her prose-poem Bluets, and even to popular novels such as Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, the fully evolved narrative seems to be giving way in favor of the defragmented and the disintegrated.
“In Lemonade, Beyoncé is saying here is my truth, here is my life, my love, here is my blackness, here is my history … here is my heart, what’s left of it,” Roxane Gay told a packed crowd on Sunday night in Manhattan.
For the last five years the war in Syria has not only caused the deaths of 470,000 people, created eight million internally displaced citizens, and caused the exodus of another four million to other countries, it has brought the term “refugee crisis”into the global consciousness. But what exactly is a refugee crisis, how do we perceive it, and how can writers help us to see the humanity of the situation?
In his seminal work “Toward an Architecture” (1923), Le Corbusier compelled his contemporaries to forget the “kissing doves” of old architecture and embrace the beauty of the machinery and construction expanding before them. “May our eyes see,” he said, praising the innovative lines and structures of planes, ships and other transport vehicles.
When I was growing up, the number of times I saw people on television who looked like me was so infrequent that when I did see an Asian face, I automatically memorised the name that belonged to it. I can still recall them: Mai from Heartbreak High, Loc from Head Start, and Bec from Crash Zone.
Ndayishimiye has been a refugee for so long that this state of being has come to define him more than his formal nationality. The 28-year-old is from Burundi, but for decades his family has been washed back and forth across porous borders by the waves of violence that regularly batter Africa’s Great Lakes region.
In the summer of 1963, Andy Warhol hopped into a Ford Falcon and drove from New York to Los Angeles. Then in his mid-30s, Warhol had accepted an offer by Dennis Hopper to throw a party in his honor. With an inkling that he wanted to develop his skills in film, the avant-garde artist and three of his friends — poet Gerard Malanga, filmmaker Taylor Mead and painter Wynn Chamberlain — set off on a wild 4 1/2- day excursion across the country.
In "The Gods of Tango" (Alfred A. Knopf: 384 pp., $26.95), the third novel by Carolina de Robertis, a young girl named Leda takes a journey across the sea from the small Italian village of Alazzano to the pulsing city of Buenos Aires to marry her cousin, Dante. On hearing of her fiancé's death, Leda decides to distance herself from the restricted world of migrant women and dress as a man, seduced by the burgeoning tango scene.
My review for of Kevin Kwan's follow up to Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend, can be read here. The review was for the Los Angeles Times and was one of the more fun, decadent and voyeuristic books I've read this year.