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Mohsin Hamid Contemplates Nationalism; Ferrante Ponders Fear

Mohsin Hamid

Mohsin Hamid, the author of the novels The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Exit West, writes about the disturbing trends of “purity” and nationalism in Pakistan, England, and beyond. “In these pure times, you believe more impurity is desperately needed. Only impurity can save us now,” he writes. “But, fortunately, there are reasons for hope. Our species was built on impurity, and impurity will probably come to our rescue once again, if we let it.”

Shomari Wills talks about the genesis of his book Black Fortunes, a study of African-American millionaires, and about the surprises he encountered while researching and writing it.

“The cat brought in a snake and left it under my bed...” In her second column for the Guardian, Elena Ferrante considers how she has learned to confront her fears. Her own success in overcoming fear has not been based in courage, per se, so much as “egotism.” “We fearful-belligerents place at the top of all our fears the fear of losing self-respect,” she writes. “We value ourselves very highly, and in order not to have to face our own humiliation, we are capable of anything.”

Salman Rushdie reveals his big literary influences—Kafka, Pynchon—and confesses that he’s never been able to finish Middlemarch.

“Every time Mark E. Smith spat on the ground, another 10 bands rose up, and he hated every one of them.” Rob Sheffield, the author of David Bowie and Dreaming the Beatles, offers an inspired tribute to the acerbic frontman of the legendary postpunk band The Fall.

We’re excited about the upcoming talk, on February 5 at the New School, between the poet-critic-novelists Wayne Koestenbaum (My 1980s and Other Essays) and Douglas Martin (Acker).