Best of the Web 09/25/17

Thrice a month, we feature our favorite literary links. As ever, we promise: You’ll laugh. You'll ponder. You won’t get any writing done.

On Late Night with Seth Meyers, grubbie and award-winning author Celeste Ng talks about her new novel, Little Fires Everywhere, and the strange halloween tradition in her hometown.


From the Agni Blog, Grub instructor Courtney Sender's polemic "Against 'Unlikeable': On the Occasion of What Happened."

"This phenomenon, whereby women are only as attractive as their saying no, and lose attractiveness as soon as they say yes I want a coffee with you, is as true in our political mechanism as it is in fiction. To be a woman wanting—to be ambitious, a striver, to choose some object and exert all the force she can muster to achieve it from a young age and not back down—is still unseemly, in our characters and our politicians. It is what we mean when we say that a real or fictional woman is unlikeable. She wants too hard, and the wrong thing."

From Dame magazine, "Does My Young Autistic Son Know It's His Birthday?" author, Grub instructor, and Literary District director Alysia Abbott's heart-wrenching and honest essay about what the ordinary markers of "success" mean to parents raising a child with disabilities.

"This year will be my son’s first birthday since moving out of our home. About this I feel a mix of guilt and profound sadness. I want him to know just how much he means to me, just how much I want him to enjoy his birthday. But he can’t tell us what he wants or even gesture toward a picture of something special he longs to have or experience. This concept of wishing for something material and absent, and hoping for its arrival via your parents is really too abstract a concept for him. So, with his sister’s help, we’re working on a list. What would he like? The act of loving is expressed through the guessing, through the anticipation of his happiness. There are no friends to invite to a party. We wouldn’t want the noise anyway. There’s just us and his sitter G who really know and love him and who want to see him eat cake with his hands."

In the New York Times, author Thrity Umrigar asks, "I’m Indian. Can I Write Black Characters?"

"I soon realized I had been naïve. While I might define myself as an American writer, I grew up in India. That means, to many, I’ll always be an Indian-American writer, with all the freight that the hyphen carries.

The assumption by agents, editors and readers was that I would continue writing novels featuring Indian characters or set in India—as I did in my first six novels—even though I have not lived there for over 30 years.

In The Atlantic, Anjali Enjeti's essay, "Why I’m Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years," expounds on her perseverence in the face of great rejection. 

"One of my books received more than 30 requests for full manuscripts from agents and multiple offers of representation, but my relationship with my agent didn’t work out. Meanwhile, some of my author friends who signed with the first agent they queried ended up with book deals in just months. I remember a conversation I had with a writer friend about four years ago, both of us hungry for contracts. She was impressed that I had already finished multiple books, and was, at the time, represented by a prestigious literary agency. Today, I still don’t have a deal, and her debut novel is coming out next year."

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