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PEN America Blog

July 29, 2014

I'm still surprised to answer "I'm a writer" when people ask me what I do. I wrote as a child—pages of what we would probably call fan-fiction today, extensions or imitations of things I'd read whose worlds I still wanted to inhabit when I finished them.

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July 24, 2014

I’m sorry for driving past and driving past and driving past all winter and into spring, and for watching, with interest—even, I’m ashamed to say, a kind of gross curiosity—as you became less and less of what you were, as you were ground down by innumerable tires into bone, fur, and dirt, as you were picked apart by magpies and crows.

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July 23, 2014

Kality is divided into eight zones. The prisoners found one more zone of their own imagination. They called the rest of the country beyond their compound “zone 9” implying everyone in Ethiopia is in some sort of virtual prison.

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July 23, 2014

“Cut your losses,” said the Viking. / This is supposed to be fun. / But then your neighbor & her friend invite themselves in. / Ask if we’re having a party (are terrible dancers). / Improvisers in mirage. / They whistle. / Write that down.

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July 21, 2014

As an interpreter I’m a bit of a stage mother, pushing the writer or director for whom I’m interpreting to jump into the conversation (Forza! Dai! Sfondi! I whisper). The authors I translate are like house-guests. I don’t let them sleep with me: they get the sofa bed.

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July 18, 2014

Poker. That is what I call him. He is my only friend. We met during military training. He is twenty-one. He likes the afternoon sun, and he is not a homosexual.

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July 17, 2014

The best literature for children both reflects and responds to changing social mores and realities.

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July 17, 2014

After all, our prime minister has been complaining about this so-called art for a long time. Art is beautiful and esthetic, it’s pleasant to the eye and ear, it moves the human spirit. But in the name of so-called art, things are created that are ugly, coarse, dangerous and provocative, making people brood, promoting terrorism.

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July 16, 2014

Mercilessly I’m spared: / others drink the red wine in the cellar. / More and more weightless / my body: the clothes on the pole / are an image of me I agree with. / I’m living too long. That’s okay.

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July 15, 2014

A writer like Nadine Gordimer is rare. She was one of those great ones who challenged the human faculty for reading because her writing never conformed to the norms of the practice but rather was constantly reaching forwards into realms of possibilities.

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