The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison review – the language of race and racism

The author of Beloved reads that novel alongside the real-life story that inspired it, in one of a resonant set of lectures on literature and the fetishisation of skin colour

It is hard not to read Toni Morrison’s The Origin of Others in the light of recent disturbing political developments in the US. As Ta-Nehisi Coates points out in his introduction, the central concerns of this slim book, based on Morrison’s 2016 Norton lectures at Harvard on “the literature of belonging”, may seem to have a new resonance after the election of Trump and given the increasing visibility of white supremacist groups.

Morrison considers the fetishisation of skin colour and the questions posed by our era of mass migration, and offers elegant reminders of some well-known but still unpalatable facts. One is that human beings invent and reinforce dehumanising categories of otherness in order to justify economic exploitation and to ...

George Saunders’ victory disproves Booker lore that favourites never win

Audacious experimentalism of Lincoln in the Bardo shows US author is not only a writer’s writer but a reader’s writer too

Booker lore has it that the favourite never wins. The surprise this year was that George Saunders had done just that.

As the second US winner in a row, his victory may give further ammunition to the chorus of voices decrying American domination of the prize, but it’s a resoundingly good decision.

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George Saunders’ victory disproves Booker lore that favourites never win

Audacious experimentalism of Lincoln in the Bardo shows US author is not only a writer’s writer but a reader’s writer too

Booker lore has it that the favourite never wins. The surprise this year was that George Saunders had done just that.

As the second US winner in a row, his victory may give further ammunition to the chorus of voices decrying American domination of the prize, but it’s a resoundingly good decision.

Continue reading...

Man Booker prize goes to second American author in a row

George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo described as ‘unique’ and ‘extraordinary’ by head of 2017 judging panel

The American short story writer George Saunders has won the Man Booker prize for his first full-length novel, Lincoln in the Bardo.

His novel is based around a real event: the night in 1862 when Abraham Lincoln buried his 11-year-old son Willie in a Washington cemetery. Imagining the boy trapped in the Bardo – a Tibetan Buddhist term for a kind of limbo – Saunders’ novel follows the fellow dead, also trapped in the graveyard and unwilling to accept death, who observe the boy as he desperately waits for his father to return.

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Man Booker prize goes to second American author in a row

George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo described as ‘unique’ and ‘extraordinary’ by head of 2017 judging panel

The American short story writer George Saunders has won the Man Booker prize for his first full-length novel, Lincoln in the Bardo.

His novel is based around a real event: the night in 1862 when Abraham Lincoln buried his 11-year-old son Willie in a Washington cemetery. Imagining the boy trapped in the Bardo – a Tibetan Buddhist term for a kind of limbo – Saunders’ novel follows the fellow dead, also trapped in the graveyard and unwilling to accept death, who observe the boy as he desperately waits for his father to return.

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Richard Wilbur obituary

US poet laureate, translator and Pulitzer prizewinner with the ability to touch unsettling truths beneath the surface in his work

In 1957, when he won the Pulitzer prize for his third book of poetry, Things of This World, Richard Wilbur, who has died aged 96, was clearly one of the leading young poets in the US. He combined seemingly casual elegance with painstaking craft, and his ability to touch unsettling truths beneath the surface made him heir apparent to Robert Frost. Tall, handsome and as graceful as his poetry, Wilbur might have been cast as a poet by Hollywood. That his reputation never matched that of his mentor Frost was not due to any failing in his work, but to the times in which he lived.

Wilbur’s ascent coincided with a sea change in the landscape of American poetry, a reaction to the academic strictness of “new criticism” in the ...

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee taken off Mississippi school reading list

  • Official: ‘some language in the book makes people uncomfortable’
  • Story of racism in the US south has been removed from schools before

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s classic novel about racism and the American south, has been removed from a junior-high reading list in a Mississippi school district because the language in the book “makes people uncomfortable”.

Related: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird: a classic with many lives to live

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