OZY on the Written Word
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because those words are not going to read themselves.
By Barbara Fletcher
Some well-known novelists were book factories unto themselves, churning out novels at a dizzying speed. Inhibition? Nerves? Forget it. These writers had no such problems. One might not deem all of their works “art” or “genius,” but a shockingly high number of them were amazing. Most didn’t have word processors, Web encyclopedias or Internet support groups on their side. (Maybe that’s why they were so productive.) For authors who have demonstrated proficiency with quantity and quality, check out these “extreme writers.”
Short stories can make a big impact. Author Peter Orner reminds us that there’s this incredible pressure lately to read for information. As if reading for anything other than knowledge is a waste of time — which he finds both “sad and inhuman.” For Orner, only fictional stories address the mystery of the baffling world. ”So much else is just noise.” The author picks out the 12 stories — personally life-changing works from a cross-section of some of the best short-fiction writers — he can’t live without. At least for the moment.
Owners of the Diwan Bookstore — with a reputation as the Barnes & Noble of the Middle East — don’t just sell book translations. In a way, they translate entire cultures by being a source of literary knowledge, bridging English- and Arabic-speaking worlds. After all, not everyone can hop a plane to Cairo to learn firsthand about Syria, Palestine, Egypt and other Middle East hot spots. So we asked the booksellers at Diwan: What writers should we be reading to broaden our understanding of modern Middle Eastern culture? If you want to dig beyond the media headlines and bypass the nonfiction policy tomes, these writers bring it home.
- Barbara Fletcher