RIP Irina Ratushinskaya 1954-2017

Irina Ratushinskaya, the Soviet dissident poet and novelist, was a legendarily defiant figure. Sentenced in 1983, on her 29th birthday, to seven years in a labor camp for “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda,” she not only survived, but wrote poems on bars of soap with the burnt ends of matchsticks. She memorized and erased them before…

Teju Cole’s “Open City” – a new prophet stirs

I’m coming late to the work of Teju Cole. He’s one of the leaders of The Black Renaissance – a group of young-and-gifteds that includes Yaa Gyasi, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Terrance Hayes, Julie Iromuanya, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chigozi Obioma, and Tracy K. Smith. Cole’s luminous novel Open City was published in 2012. In terms of traditional…

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” – Happy 50th Birthday

Gabriel García Márquez’s novel was published 50 years ago. It’s widely recognized as the masterpiece of 20th century Latin American literature – some would say all of 20th century literature. It’s the book that ushered in the Latino Boom, the ascension of Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Julio Cortázar to the world stage….