Literature

Famed novelist Kazuo Ishiguro recommends “Prayers for the Stolen,” by Jennifer Clement —a harrowing tale about young children who are abducted in the midst of Mexican drug wars.

tree among warnings

Why do people turn to poetry during troubled times? We saw it after 9/11 and we're seeing it now. When the world seems broken, poetry is often the one kind of language that helps.

Empty New York streets

In Lake Mills, Wisconsin, a retired school teacher named Kitty O'Meara wrote a short poem at lunch one day and posted it to friends on Facebook. A week later, it had been shared by Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey and millions of other people.

Karl Ove Knausgaard

Given the hyper-realism of author Karl Ove Knausgaard’s "My Struggle," you might be surprised to hear that the formative books of his childhood were filled with magic and imaginary worlds. He says Ursula K. Le Guin’s "Earthsea" fantasy series shaped him as an early reader.

ROSS GAY

Because he’s fascinated by the process of collecting and by the impulse to document everyday life, poet Ross Gay recommends “Gene Smith’s Sink,” by Sam Stephenson. It’s a portrait of another collector — the legendary documentarian and photographer, W. Eugene Smith. 

Susan Orlean

For as long as she can remember, Susan Orlean has had a favorite book, "The Sound and the Fury," by William Faulkner. A Southern gothic novel set over a period of three decades, the book explores the lives of the members of one family, the Compsons. Told from multiple perspectives and set in several time periods, it’s not a chronological or easy read.

Petina Gappah on "Persuasion"

Author Petina Gappah recommends a book she explains is “The most African of Jane Austen’s novels.” Her reason why is a look at women in Africa today told through the eyes of two novelists: a Zimbabwean in 2020 and English woman in 1818.

ruth ozeki

For her own book, author Ruth Ozeki drew from “Kamikaze Diaries,” a collection of writings left behind by the young soldiers who died on suicide missions. They represent a generation of brilliant, highly educated young students who were conscripted into the army and ordered not just to kill but to die.

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