Saturday, June 25, 2016

On Brexit lit

My contribution to the Daniel Dragomirescu's Contemporary Literary Horizon compilation of statements on the Brexit vote:

In many different ways and in different periods of history, the writer stands beyond the needs of any individual state or nation. We, as contributors to literature everywhere, know that a single day's vote, a "Brexit," cannot capture all of the nuances of all of the literatures to come out of, pass through, or in otherwise relate to England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, or elsewhere. Indeed, literature will remain a transient, and we will celebrate it for that reason, whether we are thinking of James Joyce's discovery of Italo Svevo's novels in Trieste or all the famous migrations before or after--Kundera in France, Hemingway in Cuba, Bolano in Spain, or some of today's great European writers--Aleksander Hemon, Joseph O'Neill, to name a couple--who make part or all of their lives in the United States. The state may demand of us everything--our time, allegiance, taxes, prayers, and more--but, as writers, we always live beyond such temporal concerns, recognizing the humanity we share. Best to England, best to Europe, and, of course, best to Daniel Peaceman, living beyond the borders as always.

Alex Kudera, American novelist of Fight for Your Long Day and Auggie's Revenge
(Although I did not return to Ha Jin's The Writer as Migrant to prepare this statement, I read Ha Jin's  extended essay in 2009 and would consider it an influence among many other books on my thinking about Brexit and how it relates to literature and the lives of literary writers.)

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