Sometimes I feel like a divided woman, caring fiercely about both social justice activism and literature. On first glance, it might seem easily reconciled: write fiction about injustices and resistance, right? Only Ė of course Ė itís not at all that simple. Sometimes the brain cells, the synapses and dendrites and neurons (all that anatomy I studied years ago and have mostly forgotten) that make connections necessary for activism seem not only very different from those that create good fiction, but also in direct contradiction.
And then, just when I despair that I canít get it right, I read books that are so good, such exquisite combinations of bearing witness to the world and fine literary work, that Iím inspired to keep working. Three recent books made me feel this way. (more…)