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My friend Sophia Chang’s book, Mona Again, is a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2009. This means that out of 10,000 submissions, Mona Again is in the top 500 and in the running for a book deal with Penguin.  Read the first 20 pages for FREE and help support Asian American literature with a few clicks of the mouse.  

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NY Times Magazine Article: Juan Goytisolo

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/16/magazine/16goytisolo.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

I came across this article on the online version of the NY Times magazine the other day. It profiles the Spanish novellist, Juan Goytisolo. I haven’t read any of his works, but reading the article makes me really want to. Goytisolo is an example of what French writer Jean-Paul Sartre called the “intellectuel engagé,” an engaged intellectual. This engage is defined as the duty of a philosopher (or writer, intellectual, etc.) to take part in making history through social and political engagement and activism. Becoming an “intellectuel engagé” is something that I aspire to myself.

(More on the intellectual engagé (en français): http://leportique.revues.org/document381.html)

The interview with Goytisolo is just full of amazing soundbytes and quotable quotes from a wise man who is clearly a master of language. Here are some highlights:

“I don’t like ghettos…For me, sexuality is something fluid. I am against all we’s.”

“I am against all fundamentalisms”

“The Muslim world needs to do an autocriticism, to take what’s good from other cultures, prepare the way for social and economic change and not merely recall the extinct glories of Al Andalus.” (Al Andalus is the Arab term for Spain under Moorish rule, which has been evoked as a golden age not just by writers and scholars but also with chilling irredentism by Islamist terror groups.)

“There are too many frontiers in the world. I don’t want to put frontiers in my private life.”

“To have two cultures is better than one. To know three is more important than two.”

“We are educated animals, but animals. We repeat the same atrocities with minor variations, like Ravel’s ‘Bolero.’ ” (in reference to the war in Bosnia)

“You should ask for utopia. You need a little utopianism in the rough cynicism of contemporary politics.”