"When the music changes, so does the dance." - Hausa proverb
The epigraph of Zadie Smith's novel SWING TIME could be describing the present American political climate, especially with the book's release date exactly a week past the 2016 Presidential Election. The music has indeed changed, as has the dance. Unstable, swinging, shifting times are these. Losing oneself in the words of a novel, between bouts of activism, is what many of us are trying. Escapism? Perhaps. But it's really more like delving into further understanding of how race and difference, compassion and understanding, anger and uprising, problems and resolutions are defined in literature.
There are so many books by authors of beautifully distinctive backgrounds that call us to read and further understand our world: Colson Whitehead's THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD; Viet Thanh Nguyen's forthcoming story collection, THE REFUGEES; Celeste Ng's EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU; Michael Chabon's MOONGLOW; Louise Erdrich's LaROSE; Ann Patchett's COMMONWEALTH; Edwidge Danticat's CLAIRE OF THE SEA LIGHT; Alexander Chee's THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT; Helen Oyeyemi's WHAT IS NOT YOURS IS NOT YOURS. And on and on. Read, my friends. The time is now, shifting and swinging beneath us. Ground yourselves in meaningful words and then shout to the heavens all that you have learned.