The Best American Essays 2016 includes ALEXANDER CHEE, PAUL CRENSHAW, JAQUIRA DIAZ, LAURA KIPNIS, AMITAVA KUMAR, SEBASTIAN JUNGER,
JOYCE CAROL OATES, OLIVER SACKS, THOMAS CHATTERTON WILLIAMS and others
JONATHAN FRANZEN, guest editor, is the author of five novels, most recently Purity, and five works of nonfiction and translation, including Farther Away and The Kraus Project. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the German Akademie der Kunste, and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
ROBERT ATWAN, the series editor of The Best American Essays since its inception in 1986, has published on a wide variety of subjects, from American advertising and early photography to ancient divination and Shakespeare. His criticism, essays, humor, poetry, and fiction have appeared in numerous periodicals nationwide.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-29
- Reviewer: Staff
In choosing the essays for this thought-provoking volume, guest editor Franzen (Purity) used risk as his main criterion: specifically, did the author take one? And his selections do indeed go to risky, sensitive places. Most of all, they do what the essay form arguably does best: engaging the personal in order to reach larger themes. There are several standouts even among this stellar company, such as Joyce Carol Oates’s gut-wrenching story of her severely autistic younger sister, and Jaquira Díaz’s vivid telling of being abused as a child. Francisco Cantú’s diary of becoming a border patrol agent is gripping. Laura Kipnis’s exploration of sexual consent guidelines about relationships between students and college professors is startlingly candid. Alexander Chee and Mason Stokes both grapple with questions of queer identity, and Jill Sisson Quinn makes unexpectedly poignant connections between wanting to adopt a child and her love of salamander watching. The collection also includes one of the last pieces written by Oliver Sacks before his death in 2015. As Franzen notes in his excellent introduction, and as his selections prove, the essay form forces authors to take measure of themselves, and allows the reader to do so as well. (Oct.)