Holiday wrap

December 29, 2008
By

It was a quiet holiday week here in Chicago. The president-elect went on vacation and the governor seems to have stayed off the telephone. The most exciting thing, really, was the weather: bitter cold, a blizzard, a temperature climb of 60 degrees, lots of rain and flooding. No wonder they call Chicago a meteorologist’s nightmare. Or should.
What’s been in the news? Ha Jin’s The Writer as Migrant—his meditation on language, migration, and the place of literature in a rapidly globalizing world—has turned up everywhere. In the Washington Post, in the Times Higher Education, and on the Bookslut blog. Francine Prose writes for the Post:

In The Writer as Migrant, the Chinese-born Ha Jin, whose novel Waiting won the National Book Award in 1999, discusses the ways in which nationality and culture, exile and emigration affect the course of a writer’s life and career, and influence the work he produces. He considers the cases, at once exemplary and unique, of Joseph Conrad and Vladimir Nabokov, who both wrote in a second language (as he does), and of others, such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, forced to leave their native land, causing a rupture from which they never fully recovered.…
[The book demands] to be read slowly, and savored. You may find yourself pausing frequently to think about some especially trenchant observation and to reflect on the generosity and intelligence with which these writers help us understand what makes us different from, and similar to, the people with whom we co-exist on our endlessly fascinating, precious and increasingly populated world.

The Terezín Album of Mariánka Zadikow—an facsimile edition of an keepsake album Zadikow kept in the Terezín (Theresienstadt) concentration camp—also garnered some holiday attention. The Jewish Exponent says it is “a remarkable document … beautifully reconstructed.”

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