I can’t believe it’s been a year since my last update! My collection of essays, Conditional Citizens, comes out in paperback on October 19. The beautiful cover design is by Isabel Urbina Peña, who also designed the paperback cover for The Other Americans. I love hardcovers, but honestly most of my books are paperbacks; they’re light and portable and I find it less sacrilegious to scribble notes all over the pages. Anyway, I hope you’ll suggest Conditional Citizens to your book club, add it to your class reading list, or buy a copy for yourself or a friend. The pandemic continues to affect supply chains, so if you’re thinking of giving it as a gift for the holidays, you should consider pre-ordering your copy now.
Over the last few months, I’ve also written a few pieces that have since appeared in print. I reviewed Matt Salesses’s Craft in the Real World, which I found to be “a significant contribution to discussions of the art of fiction and a necessary challenge to received views about whose stories are told, how they are told, and for whom they are intended.”
More recently, I wrote an essay on the trauma of 9/11, the wars that followed, and the malleability of memory for the New York TimesSunday Review. In it, I reflect on how the U.S. built a national memory around what happened, and what this memory leaves out: “The story America told about itself after Sept. 11 was one of heroism and resilience in the aftermath of a brutal attack; the invasion of other countries, and the interruption of their political destinies, had no place in it.” This piece was tough to write. I’m very grateful to those of you who’ve shared it on social media and emailed me about it.
I’ve also been busy with press in support of foreign translations of The Other Americans. After delays caused by the pandemic, the novel came out in quick succession in German, Dutch, Persian, and Arabic. I continue to do bookstore events, college classes, and festival appearances in support of this book.
Thank you to all who attended my tour events online this month! For those of you who want to hear more about Conditional Citizens, I wanted to highlight a few interviews I did for the fall promotional tour: I spoke with Noel King for NPR’s Morning Edition, Georgina Godwin for Monocle 24, Carolyn Kellogg for Shondaland, JR Ramakrishnan for Electric Literature, and Joel Stein for Soul Pancake’s Show Your Shelf. I also had a conversation with the playwright and novelist Ayad Akhtar for the Los Angeles TimesBook Review about fiction, nonfiction, and the present moment. Elsewhere, I talked to Audible about Conditional Citizens and the process of recording the audiobook myself. (Link coming soon.)
In other news, I wrote a piece for the New York Times Style on tchotchkes, souvenirs, and other objects of comfort I’ve accumulated over thirty years of living between countries. The essay accompanied photographs by the artist Leonard Suryajaya and later served as a prompt for the NYT Learning Network. And heading into the 2020 presidential election, I wrote a letter to non-voters for PEN America’s We Will Emerge project.
I’m also delighted to share that Conditional Citizens was included on the longlist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. I hope you’ll consider buying a copy, suggesting it to your book club, or assigning it to your students. If you’ve read it, perhaps you will consider telling a friend about it or leaving a review online? As always, thanks for your support.
That’s all I have for now. I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy.
My new book, Conditional Citizens, comes out on September 22nd. It’s about belonging and unbelonging in the United States, an experience I know I share with many of you and that can be especially intense these days. An adapted excerpt appears in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine. I hope you’ll take a look and add the book to your reading list.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been spending a lot less time online; it may take me a while to read or respond to emails and queries. I hope you’re all staying healthy, and that you’re managing to remain sane during this pandemic.
So much book stuff has happened since my last post! I wrote a new short story, “That Time At My Brother’s Wedding,” which appeared in the New York Times Magazine‘s first all-fiction issue. Contributors include Margaret Atwood, Edwidge Danticat, Victor Lavalle, Mia Couto, Kamila Shamsie, Rachel Kushner, among others. Earlier this month, my novel The Other Americans was named a finalist for the California Book Award, which was both unexpected and delightful. (There will be no live ceremony this year, though, for obvious reasons.) And before that, my first novel, Hope and Other Dangerous Dangerous Pursuits, which was originally published by Algonquin in 2005, was reissued with a handsome new cover.
In other news, the Dutch edition of The Moor’s Account, titled La Florida, will be published by Nieuw Amsterdam in August 2020. I’m very excited about this release because that book is so special to me. Elsewhere, the French edition of The Other Americans, titled Les Autres américains, will be published by Editions Christian Bourgeois in September 2020. I’m so disappointed that I won’t be able to visit France, Belgium, and the Netherlands as planned, but my hope is that travel will be possible again next summer. In the meantime, all my events are virtual.