Under apartheid, trying to make an artistic political statement was difficult — artists were subject to scrutiny and even arrest. On the other hand, making a political statement was easy: All one had to do was put black and white actors on a stage together.
That's exactly what South African playwright Athol Fugard did back in 1961 with his breakout play Blood Knot. His newest play, The Shadow of the Hummingbird, is now onstage at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Conn.
Getting much sleep lately? The citizens of Karen Russell's dystopian novella, Sleep Donation, haven't been getting any. It's the near future, and America has been suffering from an insomnia crisis where hundreds of thousands of cases are terminal. And so an agency called Slumber Corps has been established to battle the problem.
Have you ever had a sentence stop you in your tracks? Editors at The American Scholar magazinehave put out their list of the "Ten Best Sentences" in fiction and nonfiction. Associate editor Margaret Foster says the inspiration came from water cooler talk around the office.
"We're sometimes struck by a beautiful sentence or maybe a lousy sentence, and we'll just say, 'Hey, listen to this,' " she says.
Imagine an America that has been plagued for years by a mysterious epidemic of insomnia — an affliction so serious that many are dying from lack of sleep. That's the futuristic premise of Karen Russell's new novella, Sleep Donation.