One of the biggest issues facing literature today is its supposed disconnect with current events. Why do we read novels from the 18th century when wars rage in the Middle East, and why do we dote upon the themes of 16th century tragedians when we are well into the digital age. One of Qwiklit’s main purposes is to bridge the gap between modernity and literature. Every week, then, we will be providing our readers with literary companions to some of the most hot-button issues facing the world today. For many of you, it’s hard enough finding literature that is both relevant and engrossing, but I hope that I will lead help broaden your outlook and maybe even give you fodder for daily conversation.
- Turkey is currently in the midst of a citizen uprising caused by the attempted removal of an iconic park in Istanbul. The Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk has chronicled Turkey’s history in great detail in his prolific career, combining historical fiction and magic realism to create a colorful portrait of Istanbul and other regions of the country. His memoir Istanbul: Memories and the City shows a metropolis and a country in its formative stages from this celebrated author’s perspective.
- NASA recently announced that it was working on warp speed technology to potentially jumpstart the age of intergalactic travel. For a fast-paced and detailed exploration of such possibilities, read Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War.
- The Civil War in Syria has raged on for at least two full years now, and the true extent of the atrocities is just beginning to unfold. Although the time and place are different, Rawi Hage’s De Niro’s Game presents a stark but poetic portrait of urban warfare in the Middle-East, and how living with such horrors can have damaging psychological consequences.
- Worldwide protests against Monsanto erupted this past week, resulting in one of the largest international demonstrations of all time. Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake is set in the distant future, and includes humanoid creatures that have been fabricated in the same manner as GMO’s or genetically modified foods.