The Windfall by Diksha Basu comes out today! It’s a hilarious and wise debut novel about a family discovering the precariousness of social status and what it means to “make it” in modern India. You’ll love it. We asked the author how she’s celebrating her book’s release.
I have an eight-week old baby and did you know that an adult brain requires five hours of uninterrupted sleep in order to function but newborns need to feed every three hours? Why is evolution failing us? When I found out I was going to have a baby exactly two months before my book hit shelves, my husband and I said we had either timed it all really well or really badly. I’m happy to report it turns out we timed it all pretty well. Having essentially two babies out in the world helps keep all my anxiety in check because I’m always distracted and exhausted.
This block was new to me, but its warped cornices, crumbling lintels, and broken, zigzagging fire escapes could have been ripped from my memories. The people seemed familiar, too: the woman in curlers, cigarette dangling from two fingers, leaning out a first-floor window to gossip with a neighbor on the sidewalk, a potbellied mayor holding court on a nearby stoop. Older boys with gleaming biceps who slouched in lawn chairs and played video games on a television hotwired into the streetlight. Teenage girls in suffocatingly tight jeans who caressed the rusting finials of a wrought-iron fence and kept an eye on a horde of children—black and Spanish—who ran screaming through an open hydrant.
I stepped aside as a girl, maybe seven or eight, tore past me with a water balloon. I used to be one of these kids, I thought, oblivious to the crushing heat: exactly what that made me now, forty years later (and acutely aware of the heat), I couldn’t say. Though as much at home here as anywhere else in the city, I viewed the street warily. We shared a history of sorts, but history—my history—was at best a pleasant dream from which I always awoke with an unsettling sense of loss. I had no reason to be nostalgic. As for the future, that too had always been filled with questions, which led me to suspect that, in the hours and days ahead, I would still be chasing ghosts.
Radiohead’s OK COMPUTER came out 20 summers ago. To mark the occasion, today the band released OKNOTOK, a remastered version of the original album, along with a lot of really good b-sides and three previously unreleased tracks. You can listen to it all on Apple Music and Spotify, or get it the old fashioned way from Radiohead’s site. I know “Paranoid Android” is considered the album’s most revolutionary track, but 20 years later I think we all understand that the better choice is the video above for “No Surprises.” It is simply extraordinary.
I won’t burden the world with two decades of feels from someone who was graduating high school the same year the greatest artwork ever made on modern sadness was produced. No one wants that, and there is already a ton to read about it over at Pitchfork. I’ll just say that listening to OK COMPUTER again today, sitting in my office, in these times, was like running into an old friend when you’re in a tough spot. A reminder.
Lisa Dillman has translated numerous books, including Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World, which won the 2016 Best Translated Book Award, and several books by Andrés Barba. Barba’s novella Such Small Hands tells the haunting story of a young girl who loses her parents in a car accident and is sent to an orphanage for girls.
Andrea Gregovich: I was so touched by Such Small Hands because the young girls’ voices felt so authentic. Your translator’s note touched on the same thought I had as I was reading: how did this male author capture the painful internal world of orphaned girls so exquisitely? Do you get a sense of this from meeting him? Continue reading
Donald Trump’s presidency has ushered in a new era of protests, with people flooding the streets to resist his agenda. In just six months we’ve seen the Women’s March, the March for Science, the Not My President March, the March for Truth, and the first ever protest in space, by the Autonomous Space Agency Network—along with many others.
Sunil Yapa wonderfully captures the visceral experience of a protest, albeit one that turns violent, in his debut novel, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist. It’s November 30, 1999, when tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in downtown Seattle to protest the World Trade Organization conference at the city’s convention center. Continue reading
Mary Mann is the author of Yawn: Adventures in Boredom. Her essays and criticism have appeared in Smithsonian, The New York Times, The Believer, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications, and she holds an MFA from Columbia University’s writing program. Mann is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Fellowship and a 2015 CATWALK Art Residency, and she is the associate editor of the New York Times bestselling collection Women in Clothes. She is currently employed as a writing associate at The Cooper Union. Mann lives in New York with her fiancé, Grant, and dog, Maya.
EB: How did you start writing nonfiction?
MM: I moved to New York because I wanted to do some writing for somebody somewhere. I loved to read. If I wasn’t writing, I wanted to be editing something—I wanted to be involved with words. I wanted to be in that world. And I moved into nonfiction because that’s just how things shook out. I had an internship at The Onion when I first started out. Obviously those stories are not real, but they treat it like journalism—writers spit-balling stuff off each other. I liked that world. I got a copyediting job after that. I wasn’t crazy about it, and that’s when I applied to Columbia, because that was when I decided I wanted to do something different. I applied to the nonfiction program because it felt natural. I feel like I don’t have a good answer. Continue reading