Monday, November 15, 2010

Susie Linfield

Susie Linfield directs the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program in the graduate journalism department at NYU and is the author of The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence, which has just been published by the University of Chicago Press.

Earlier this month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
During the school year, when I'm teaching, it's often hard for me to read anything not connected to my work. But this summer I indulged in whatever I wanted. My partner and I were renting an old farmhouse in Great Barrington, and much to my surprise and delight, the owners were Philip Roth fanatics. I got to read--and re-read--tons of Philip Roth. Most memorable was The Anatomy Lesson, where the character of Milton Appel, the hectoring Jewish critic--based on Irving Howe--is reconfigured, in a moment of hilarious, malicious slyness, as a pornographer. Lying on a couch in a country house and re-reading these books--frequently bursting into fits of laughter--was pure bliss.

Less blissful, for obvious reasons, was Eliza Griswold's The Tenth Parallel, an account of her travels along the fault lines of Muslim-Christian antagonisms in parts of Africa and Asia. While the reporting in this book is highly impressive, I was somewhat less impressed with her analysis--or, rather, lack of analysis. Griswold left me wanting more--left me wanting to know what meaning she made of the deadly fanaticisms she was encountering.

As a journalist, I am addicted to newspapers; I read periodicals as much as I read books. And for various reasons, I am obsessed with (i.e. always worried about) the situation in the Mideast. Every day I read, on the web, Haaretz, the Daily Star of Lebanon, Al-Hayat, and Al-Ahram.

And last night, as a treat, I started The Finkler Question.
Read an excerpt from The Cruel Radiance, and learn more about the book at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue