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American Odysseys: Writings by New Americansby Daniel Alarcon
Synopses & Reviews
American Odysseys is an anthology of twenty-two novelists, poets, and short-story writers drawn from the shortlist for the 2011 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Literature. Including Ethiopian-born Dinaw Mengestu, the recipient of the Prize; Yugoslavian-born Téa Obreht, the youngest author to receive the Orange Prize in Fiction; and Chinese-born Yiyun Li, a MacArthur Genius grantee, what these authors all have in common—and share with US Poet Laureate Charles Simic, who has contributed a foreword—is that they are immigrants to the United States, now excelling in their fields and dictating the terms by which future American writing will be judged by the world. Running the gamut from desperate realism to whimsical fantasy—from Miho Nonaka’s poetry, inspired by fourteenth-century Noh theater, to Ismet Prcic’s wrenching stories set in the aftermath of the Bosnian war—American Odysseys is proof, if any be needed, that the heterogeneity of American society is its greatest asset.
"This anthology is composed of selections from 22 writers recognized by the 2011 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise, an award given annually to a young American immigrant (Dinaw Mengestu won in 2011). The anthology, with a foreword by Charles Simic, is composed of poetry, short stories, and excerpts of novels from such accomplished writers as TÃ©a Obreht (The Tiger's Wife), Ilya Kaminsky (Dancing in Odessa), and MacArthur 'Genius' Mengestu (How to Read the Air). Across the works, identity and memory emerge as common themes of the immigrant experience, '...to live/ in a place where memory/ becomes a synonym for home,' as poet Sarah McCallum sees it. In Porochista Khakpour's and Ismet Prcic's tales, America is the battleground of the past and the present, a land of the persistence of memory. Some writing is of the old country, such as Laleh Khadivi's lyrical engagement with Kurdish history. Some is of the new country and the trials of the immigrant experience, as Ellen Litman writes: 'Immigration distorts people.' And some takes place in neither region; David Hoon Kim's stellar contribution, 'On the Persistence of Sorrow in Gravitational Interactions,' probes identity and its relativity. A powerful tapestry of art and experience from some of America's newest talents. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
American Odysseys is an anthology of twenty-two writers drawn from the shortlist for the 2011 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Literature. Including work by Dinaw Mengestu, Téa Obreht, Yiyun Li, and introduced by poet Charles Simic, this collection is proof, if any be needed, that the heterogeneity of American society is its greatest asset.
About the Author
Charles Simic was born in Belgrade. He is a United States Poet Laureate, an essayist and translator. His 1990 collection, The World Doesn't End: Prose Poems was awarded the Pulitrzer Prize. He lives in New Hampshire.
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