Three marielitos, three manifest destinies for immigrants of cuban boatlift, freedom rings — in distinctly different tones. By Marie Arana-Ward, Washington Post Staff Writer. Every year about now, the memories rush back. The knock at the door. The police. The neighbors shrieking “Escoria! Gusano!” (“Scum! Worm!”) and wielding rocks. The bumpy bus ride through the…
Vassily Aksyonov. Say it to a Washingtonian and you’re likely to get a blank stare. And yet Aksyonov may well be the most important writer in this century to hold a Washington address. He has been hailed as a Salinger, a Dostoevsky, a Hemingway, a Tolstoy. Aksyonov is one of the giants of 20th-century Russian literature, but after 16 years of Washington tenure, hardly anyone seems to know he is here.
One of the trickier subjects in fiction is that of the hapless suitor, besotted with love, locked in a lifelong obsession with a woman he can neither leave nor have. Yet, for all the perils of that soupy scenario, great literature has come of it. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote memorably of just such a man in “The Great Gatsby”; William Styron, in “Sophie’s Choice”; Gabriel García Márquez, in “Love in the Time of Cholera”; and Mario Vargas Llosa, in “The Bad Girl.”
A little more than midway through Jane Smiley’s extraordinarily powerful new novel, “Private Life,” the childless wife of a prominent astronomer becomes fascinated with a family of coots, ducklike birds that live on the pond near her house on Mare Island, up San Francisco Bay.
Maybe it’s because you’re not allowed to wear government-issue camouflage; maybe it’s because — when all is said and done — you’re going to war for the money. But if you’re a private military contractor fighting on foreign soil, you might as well be a cowboy looking for payday, and you won’t convince anyone you’re…
It took more than a century to get here, but last year finally made it obvious: It’s time to throw out the Nobel Prize in literature.
We call him that — he calls himself that — because we use dated language and logic. After more than 300 years and much difficult history, we hew to the old racist rule: Part-black is all black. Fifty percent equals a hundred. There’s no in-between.