Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 3:41 pm
Da Chen is the author of My Last Empress.
In fiction, setting is a local goddess you must kowtow to before you lift up your pen and attempt to create an authentic fictional world. It is a lofty stage to be erected — an ornate frame within which a masterful painting will be hung.
Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 9:21 am
I love Thanksgiving. It is the best food holiday on the calendar. However, one thing has always bothered me. Even the most accomplished cooks take unnecessary short cuts when it comes to preparing the Big Meal.
We're heading toward that time of year when self-help industry publishers rub their hands together in anticipation. The holiday season and the inevitable New Year's resolutions that follow tend to turn our minds toward happiness — getting it, keeping it and maintaining it. But journalist Oliver Burkeman says whatever your plan, you are most likely doing it wrong.
As I'm currently separated from most of my earthly possessions for the rest of this week, some of my cultural intake has been interrupted. (There's this great Hitchcock Blu-ray set I wanted to tell you about, and I will, but it has to come out of storage first.) Also, I don't know if you've noticed, but the news is really weird, and we're coming off a time where it's contentious over very serious things.
Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 12:03 pm
Hindus from New Jersey to New Delhi are celebrating Diwali. The holiday has its own traditions, customs, and most importantly, food. Host Michel Martin speaks with writer and cookbook author Anupy Singla about the dishes she's bringing to the table for this year's Diwali celebration.
A woman sits on a bed in a dim, wallpapered room. There's an old rotary phone on a nightstand, a prescription pill bottle by the foot of a lamp. Her long wavy hair is brushed back, and the moonlight peers in from between the curtains, illuminating the flowery pattern of her nightgown and the small tattoo on her fleshy arm. Curled sleeping on the bed is a baby, and the woman's head is turned towards the child. But the expression on her face is unclear. Perhaps it's a look of resentment and exhaustion, of alienation and despair.
Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 2:49 pm
Ian McEwan's 15th book of fiction, Sweet Tooth, is a Tootsie Roll Pop of a literary confection — hard-boiled candy enrobing a chewy surprise at its core. The novel is set 40 years ago, when communism was still perceived as a threat, and takes its title from a fictional clandestine mission by Britain's MI5 intelligence service to sponsor writers espousing the Cold Warrior cause.
The Virgin Mary is one of the most familiar icons of Christianity. For centuries, artists have depicted her on everything from backyard statues of a rosy-cheeked innocent to paintings of magnificent Madonnas hanging in museums all over the world. But few writers have taken up her story or tried to create their own version of the events of her life.
Now, Irish writer Colm Toibin does just that. His novella, The Testament of Mary, raises questions about the life of Jesus' mother and the stories that laid the groundwork for the creation of a church.
When Andrew Solomon started his family with his husband, John Habich, he says, people were surprised that he wasn't afraid to have children, given the topic of the book he was writing. That book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, explores what it's like for parents of children who are profoundly different or likely to be stigmatized — children with Down syndrome, deafness, autism, dwarfism, or who are prodigies, become criminals, or are conceived in rape.