Posted by Kira Baran, GD Creative Non-Fiction Reader for 7.1
This year, SUNY Geneseo hosted a meet-the-author lecture featuring Icelandic-born novelist Ófeigur Sigurðsson. Also in attendance was SUNY Geneseo’s own Dr. Lytton Smith, who worked as a translator for Sigurðsson’s most recent publication, Oraefi: The Wasteland. Over the course of the evening, the two discussed the writing process, the translation process, and the life experiences that influenced the book.
Yet, what stands out in my memory is not Sigurðsson’s humorous comment about casting sheep (yes, the animal) as fictional characters; nor is it his serious comment about climate change’s threat to transform Iceland into a volcanic “inferno.” No—even the latter statement was arguably less jarring than one simple statistic the author shared regarding America’s own threatening environment: that only three percent of the books marketed in the United States are translated texts. Continue reading
Posted by Jennifer Liriano, Fiction Reader for issue 6.1
The newest edition of Gandy Dancer will be featuring incredible art. As it turns out, much of the art is by a group of culturally diverse students. It is important to have this sort of representation in a literary journal because if readers from similar backgrounds see their culture represented, it may speak to them personally and perhaps even encourage them to pursue more creative outlets. Continue reading
Posted by Katherine Zito, CNF Reader for Issue 4.1
Reading, for many people, is about escape. That’s probably the reason I’d have given you if you’d asked me why I loved to read when I was a little girl, slyly (or so I thought) turning the pages of a novel underneath my desk as my elementary school teachers droned on about fractions. But as I matured a little, I realized that wasn’t quite the case. It was fun to escape to fantastical locales or go on adventures I never would, but books were also a way to grapple with the world, not simply escape from it–to see the issues that I dealt with in my life and in my mind reflected in a way that helped me make sense of them. The characters I loved the most, as I grew into adolescence, weren’t aspirational larger-than-life heroes, but characters I could relate to. Adolescence is a time of identity-building, and literature is a place many teenagers turn to figure stuff out. It is for this reason that diversity–in representations of race, gender, LGBT-status, disability, mental illness, and other ranges of experience–in young adult fiction is so vitally important.
In my eyes, the purpose of storytelling was grander than mere entertainment, and it wasn’t until I came across the words of writer Junot Diaz that I understood, clearly and powerfully, the importance of diverse stories: “There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, ‘Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?’ And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might seem themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.” Continue reading