World Literature Today has recently announced the names of the jury members who will select the finalists for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and I’m happy and proud to report that I will be a part of this jury. The finalists for the prize will be announced on June 15, 2021, and final deliberations and voting for the 2022 prize will take place at Oklahoma University during the Neustadt Lit Fest in October.
I recently posted a review of Marie Ross’s recording of Brahms’s Clarinet Sonatas and Trio, and now World Literature Today published my profile of Marie Ross where she talks about her journey to this recording and the problems she’s encountered on the way. She’s got such a fascinating story to tell.
Until recently, Ross says, musicians studying historic performance overlooked the late Romantic period. Brahms died in 1897, removed from our time by only a few generations of players, and many believe that contemporary performing practices and instruments have only Brahms Brahms wrote his four clarinet pieces for chamber ensembles late in his career, in 1891 and 1894, having already declared his intention to retire from composing. He was inspired to write these works after hearing Richard Mühlfeld, a clarinetist whose sound he found particularly warm and expressive. To approach Mühlfeld’s sound, Ross found clarinets made by a legendary German maker, Oskar Oehler. She uses two instruments, one that was made in the 1890s, and the other in 1905. The latter instrument has ties to a musician in the same orchestra in which Mühlfeld also had played. Mühlfeld, Ross says in the liner notes to her CD, is on the record for recommending Oehler clarinets.https://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/blog/cultural-cross-sections/marie-rosss-brahms-olga-zilberbourg
Read the review online, and buy the CD. Buying the music is the best way to support our recording artists!
I love seeing my book resonating with readers out there. Here’s another lovely review in one of my favorite literary magazines out there, World Literature Today, written by Lanie Tankard:
Many stories address mothering, particularly combined with employment. In the inventive “Dandelion,” an author mails off her nineteen-month-old child as a metaphorical manuscript to her New York publisher. Zilberbourg monitors the maternal phenomenon through generations as if turning a kaleidoscope to watch patterns shift from grandmother to mother to daughter.https://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/2020/spring/water-and-other-stories-olga-zilberbourg
LIKE WATER AND OTHER STORIES is available for sale on WTAW Press website and at your favorite local bookstore, in paperback and in ebook formats.
My essay about the movement to increase representations of women in monumental public art was published by World Literature Today:
San Francisco, where I live, is, on par with Seville, a popular tourist destination. As a writer, I often wonder what images of the city people carry away from their visits here. Perhaps it’s the fog curling over the Golden Gate Bridge. Perhaps it’s the souvenir shops at Fisherman’s Wharf. Likely, it’s the people sleeping in abject poverty on the city sidewalks. If asked what notable person comes to mind when you think of San Francisco, the name that a visitor rattles off might reflect their own walk of life, but be it that of a businessperson, a film director, an entertainer, a politician, a scientist, an environmentalist, or a computer engineer, more likely than not, it will be a male name.
Despite the fact that women in the United States attained the right to vote nearly one hundred years ago, we are far from attaining parity in most forms of public life.https://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/blog/cultural-cross-sections/women-public-art-essay-olga-zilberbourg
Here’s Lava Thomas’s design of the Maya Angelou monument that I dream about seeing on the streets of San Francisco.
Lying in bed on Saturday night, her eyes closed in the imperfect darkness of the room, her limbs cooling from the day’s chores, Marcie felt a crawling sensation on her right arm, the one outside the blanket. Something crept from her shoulder down to her wrist and then jumped to her belly.
Marcie was lying on her left side, hugging the body pillow in a way that felt comfortable in the thirty-second week of pregnancy. The squash-sized creature inside her belly was still asleep, but the longer she stayed horizontal, the sooner it would be waking up. Marcie needed to get her sleep as efficiently as possible.
The sheet, covering her belly, moved. ….
read the rest of the story in World Literature Today’s January issue.
The current issue of World Literature Today features an essay by Dubravka Ugrešić, translated by Ellen Elias-Bursać, about misogyny and identity that I found meaningful as a reflection on my own writing and identity as a writer. She says,
For years I have been trying to dodge the label “Croatian writer” or “Croatian writer who lives in Amsterdam,” though my life experience has confirmed that this sort of tattoo is almost impossible to remove. Why? Because most people use ethnic coordinates when remembering, classifying, defining, and judging others.
… in Croatia (like, indeed, so many other places), male writers represent their homeland, state, nation, and national literature; their works harmoniously build the national literary canon. Female writers may either profit by or be victimized by such constellations. Mostly they are victimized.
Other highlights from this issue include a feature on Gulf Literature, here represented by several authors from Mexico, the US South, and Cuba. A powerful excerpt from LeAnne Howe’s “Savage Conversations” tells the story of Mary Todd Lincoln being judged insane because she was haunted by an Indian. “And I believe her,” Howe begins. A powerful way to contextualize her work as feminist and post-colonial. The rest of the piece is crazy and brilliant.
The interview with Alain Mabanckou does a great job of introducing this writer by his reading list. I love his project of actively trying to read–and to be influenced by–lit from around the world. He wants to cover all continents, it seems. This is worth skimming for his reading list alone. Some of the African writers he names are Aimé Césaire, Édouard Glissant, René Maran, Mongo Beti, Camara Laye.
In the marvelous World Literature in Review section, a brief mention of a recently translated Natalia Gromova’s Moscow in the 1930 (Trans. Christopher Culver). Go ahead and buy this book. For all interested in twentieth century Russian lit, this is required reading.