Essays Fiction 2009

Border Crossings

More

In our age of globalization, when immigration and the Internet and multinational conglomerates have made cultural transmission across borders easier than ever, does the idea of a national literature still have meaning? Where, in a civilization divided between cultural nativism and cosmopolitan mélange, does such a literature belong? The Atlantic, in conjunction with the Luminato Festival of Arts and Creativity, asked four novelists with international followings to consider these questions.

The Beetle and the Teacup
by Margaret Atwood
“The adjective national won’t go away, because despite the shiftiness of such categories, every author was born somewhere, and where the infant scribe’s growth to writing age took place is not irrelevant.”

The Relevance of Cosmopolitanism
by Joseph O’Neill
“Most novelists can choose to occupy territory complicated by merely a single hyphen (African-American, Korean-American) and settle there. I haven’t had this option: there are few Irish-Francophone-Turkish-Dutch-Londoner-American lots out there.”

Did I Know Enough to Be British?
by Monica Ali
“In our modern, multicultural world, one that has become geographically unbound, perhaps literature too has become unanchored. It can only add a sense of rootlessness, as writers and books traverse the globe.”

Reading Faust in Korean
by Anne Michaels
“When the dead cannot be laid to rest in ground that remembers them, sometimes literature is the only grave we have. And that grave is one way a migrant claims a place in his adopted country.”

Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Ghost Trains of America

Can a band of locomotive experts save vintage railcars from ruin?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Video

How Is Social Media Changing Journalism?

How new platforms are transforming radio, TV, print, and digital

Video

The Place Where Silent Movies Sing

How an antique, wind-powered pipe organ brings films to life

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In