Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters have each been described as landscape writers. Kahn mapped the American West in the biography Horses that Buck and McMasters’ memoir, Welcome to Shirley, grappled with a hometown that was as dangerous as it was idyllic. In subsequent work, both writers found themselves writing and thinking about the places harder to locate on a map and much harder still to define: home. Kahn and McMasters are the editors of the recently published This Is the Place: women writing about home, featuring essays by thirty women writers who explore the complex and messy business of making, being, and leaving—or sometimes escaping—home.
The Fault Lines of Home: an Interview with Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters
Current city or town: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
How long have you lived here: A year and nine months
Three words to describe the climate: Hot to scorching
Best time of year to visit? November through March. The temperature is in the 60s or 70s, sunbathing on the beach becomes possible and the city finally starts buzzing with outdoor dining and with arts and culture, including Art Dubai, Dubai Design Week and the Dubai International Film Festival.
Last fall, Kapur taught at Amherst College. She recently spoke to former student Isabel Meyers about Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist; the intersection of personal and political history; girlhood; family as a sense of place; and trusting the poem’s voice.
Some Voice Has Spoken: an interview with Kirun Kapur
Three words to describe the climate: windy in winter
Best time of year to visit?: spring, summer
1) The most striking physical features of this city/town are. . . The skylines and the River Main. Frankfurt was destroyed during the second war, and the skylines give a “fresh air” to the city. Of course, I cannot compare the city to New York or Chicago, but I think the modern architecture makes Frankfurt unique, if we are talking about Germany in general, and fits in general the composition of the city. Everything is around the River Main: holidays, boats, sports, cafes and walkways.
Ask a Local: Anzhelina Polonskaya, Frankfurt, Germany
Author Viet Thanh Nguyen is on a hot streak. Since winning a 2016 Pulitzer Prize for The Sympathizer, his nonfiction collection Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War and this year’s short-story collection The Refugees have amassed acclaim. In an ultimately uplifting conversation with Alexander Bisley, Nguyen discussed America’s obligation to help Syrian refugees, writers’ political responsibilities, and why the past’s traumas endure.
History is Not Over: An Interview with Viet Thanh Nguyen
In this month’s interview, Melody Nixon speaks with Icelandic author Oddný Eir about feminism and writing, folklore, and tyranny. Eir’s latest book of auto-fiction, Land of Love and Ruins, is a work of diaristic essay, lyric collage, and rumination. Collaborator Björk describes Eir as “a true pioneer.” Eir appeared this week in New York City’s PEN World Voices Festival on Gender and Power.
The Female Writer is Political: an Interview with Oddný Eir
Aleksandar Hemon is the author of the novel The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, of which Junot Diaz said: “Incandescent. When your eyes close, the power of this novel, of Hemon’s colossal talent, remains.” Hemon has also written three books of short stories: The Question of Bruno; Nowhere Man, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Love and Obstacles. His autobiography The Book of My Lives, was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Hemon was the recipient of a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship and a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation. Born in Sarajevo, Hemon visited Chicago in 1992, intending to stay for a matter of months. While he was there, Sarajevo came under siege, and he was unable to return home. He now lives in Chicago with his family.
A week after the release of the January 27 executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” The Common’s editorial assistant Nayereh Doosti talked with Hemon in the library of the Lord Jeffery Inn during his visit to Amherst College. Their shared perspective—growing up outside the U.S.—and the ban’s direct effect on Doosti guided the conversation toward the intersection of politics and literature.
Nationalism and Contemporary American Literature: An Interview with Aleksandar Hemon