A 19th-century American slave memoir is a huge hit in Japan

Welcome to the weekly Vox book link roundup, a collection of the best writing on the web about books and related subjects. Here’s the best the internet has to offer for the week of November 12, 2017.

Well, we’re at a difficult moment in history. Many people in power are attempting to rewrite the past and the present to fit their narrative. Writing about spirits is a way to counteract some of that, because the people of the past are allowed to be present in the moment and tell their own (true) stories, and often, there is a reckoning between the living and the dead. And perhaps both books wrestle with grief; writing about ghosts allows us to puzzle through that heaviness.

  • Also at the National Book Awards, Annie Proulx made a speech so good that people in the press pit were murmuring, “Damn,” and by people, I mean me. Vulture has the full text:

The television sparkles with images of despicable political louts and sexual harassment reports. We cannot look away from the pictures of furious elements, hurricanes and fires, from the repetitive crowd murders by gunmen burning with rage. We are made more anxious by flickering threats of nuclear war. We observe social media’s manipulation of a credulous population, a population dividing into bitter tribal cultures. We are living through a massive shift from representative democracy to something called viral direct democracy, now cascading over us in a garbage-laden tsunami of raw data.

What can you do? You’re so deranged by love that you decide to host Thanksgiving this year. You who have cooked dinner perhaps four times in the last decade. You who are lying now and know you have made dinner only twice.

Horikoshi found the story of the slave girl to be germane to modern life. “There is definitely an imbalance in Japanese society. There are many girls who live outside of Tokyo who can only see themselves as becoming a school teacher or a nurse, at best. They face adversity. But this is the story of a woman who was born a slave, who fought against all odds, who learned to read and write and eventually won her freedom. I hope that the girls and boys who read this realize that they can do anything they want, become who they want, if they apply themselves. There are people who’ve faced worse odds. This is a story about triumphing over adversity.”

[Maxwell] says that romance novels were part of the evolution of gender relations at the time: “In those books in the ’80s, we didn’t see [the male lead]…

Read the full article from the Source…

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