Literature

From Beijing to Oakland

Writer Yiyun Li explores the language of creation and the memory of violence

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arts@sfbg.com

LIT In 2005, after dropping out of a PhD program in immunology, Chinese writer Yiyun Li debuted her first book of fiction, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. A collection of stories exploring the aftershock of the Cultural Revolution on mainland and overseas Chinese, it won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Guardian First Book Award, and California Book Award. Li's story "Immorality" won the Paris Review Plimpton Prize.Read more »

Place of refuge?

Just Like Us is a story for Colorado and SF

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LIT If you've been tracking the battle over San Francisco's sanctuary ordinance, or you're simply interested in the fight for immigration reform at the federal level, then check out Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America (Scribner, 400 pages, $27.99). Written by Helen Thorp, a journalist married to Denver mayor and Colorado gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper, Just Like Us is the true story of four young girls whom Thorp tracked for five years, starting with their senior year in high school.Read more »

Work it!

The "New Creole Culture" of Yvan Rodic's Facehunter dances around the G word
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arts@safbg.com

LIT/VISUAL ART Yvan Rodic has to be one of the luckiest souls on the planet. He'd have to be to make my cynical ass fall in love with him. His new book Facehunter (Prestel, 320 pages, $24.95), a pastiche of photo book, style manual, travelogue and (hallelujah!) manifesto, has just the right combination of couture and subversion to earn a place on every cigarette- burned coffee table in the world. Read more »

Divided world

Tamim Ansary's Destiny Disrupted exposes western blind sides in relation to Islam
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Tamim Ansary is a gifted writer whose 2002 memoir West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story is a must-read for anyone wanting to know more about Afghanistan. Read more »

Once every two weeks

Tired of the same old writing at the same old sites? Try Try
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johnny@sfbg.com

LIT I have a stack of Try magazines on my lap as I write this. The pages are white, marked by the black of letters and photocopied pen marks and the gray shades of color photos or aged pages filtered through Xerox. Some of the pieces in issues are printouts of e-mails, or maps of sites in Oakland going into foreclosure. Others are copied from typewritten pages — or bank receipts. There are numbered lists, unnumbered lists, exquisite corpses, poetic critiques of programs, hidden sonnets for the public, and mash notes from poet to poet. Read more »

Dark mirrors

The black dandy beams from past into future -- sharply attired, of course
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arts@sfbg.com

LIT Recently I was at a meeting with an unnamed arts organization, planning for an AfroSurreal art exhibit. As we were hashing out the details of display, the concept of the black dandy become a bone of contention among my learned colleagues. What was, and is, a black dandy? How does the black dandy differ from the white dandy? What's the difference between a dandy and fop? Aren't those terms interchangeable? Why bother looking at or for a black dandy at all? Read more »

Foxy lady

Victor Pelevin serves up a sexual odyssey starring russian super werewolves
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A Hu-Li appears to be your run-of-the-mill lascivious 15-year-old prostitute in modern Russia. She does all the things professionals who cater to the discerning international pedophile do. What are those things? Well, she posts ads on the Internet that read:

"A FAIRY TALE CUM TRUE: Small breasts for big money. A little ginger kitten is waiting for a call from a well-to-do stranger. Read more »

Rockers-turned-authors

Rock stars who write books, too -- smarter than rock stars who Twitter?
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arts@sfbg.com

The Romantic notion of the specialized, single-pursuit genius is outdated. In this century, nothing is all-or-nothing, and postmodernism allows for and even encourages multitaskers, plate-spinners, and well-rounded individuals.

Anyway, once you become a megastar, what else is there to do? Read more »

The Monster

WRITERS ISSUE: An excerpt from El Monstruo
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El Monstruo: Dread & Redemption In Mexico City is a perverse love letter to the most contaminated, crime-ridden, corrupt and conflictive urban stain on the western side of the planet, where I have been touched to live for the past quarter of a century. My life is now hopelessly entangled with the life of this monster of a megalopolis.

El Monstruo was indeed a monstrous book to write. Read more »

Word alive

WRITERS ISSUE: Selections from fresh young voices
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WRITERS The Eighth Annual Living Word Festival focuses on fresh young voices and includes readings, musical performances, art and fashion workshops, a youth town hall on healthcare reform, and live graffiti and B-boy battles. Below are two selections from the festival, which takes place Oct. 8-18 in San Francisco and Oakland.

UNTITLED

By Dennis Kim

... and I saw a shorty swimming in a white shirt baked brown by degrees and the air before him was bent by the lashes of the sun on the ground and there was no water to speak of. Read more »