Daniel Alarcón’s Resistance Reading

Authors pick books that bring solace and understanding in a time of rancor.


We asked a range of authors and creative types to name books that bring solace or understanding in this age of rancor. More than two dozen responded. Here’s what the Peruvian American novelist Daniel Alarcón, who is also an executive producer for NPR’s Radio Ambulante, had to share with us.

Latest book: At Night We Walk in Circles
Also known for: Lost City Radio
Recommended reading: Nazi Literature in the Americas was one of the first of Roberto Bolaño’s books I ever read, and for that reason alone I remember it fondly. It’s hilarious, disturbing, bizarre, humane—a faux encyclopedia of failed attempts to use art to justify fascism. Those who’ve read Distant Star will recognize the themes, and even a few of the characters.

James Baldwin, The Last Interview: No one is as trenchant and unforgiving and sharp about race and love and class in America as Baldwin.

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood: Sometimes I think dystopian literature is the only literature we can write these days. That Atwood’s masterpiece feels so resonant today, more than 30 years after it was published, is singularly depressing. Read it as a cautionary tale.

Illustration by Allegra Lockstadt
______________

The complete series: Daniel Alarcón, Kwame Alexander, Margaret Atwood, W. Kamau Bell, Ana Castillo, Jeff Chang, T Cooper, Michael Eric Dyson, Dave Eggers, Reza Farazmand, William Gibson, Mohsin Hamid, Piper Kerman, Phil Klay, Alex Kotlowitz, Bill McKibbenRabbi Jack Moline, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Peggy Orenstein, Wendy C. Ortiz, Darryl Pinckney, Joe Romm, Karen Russell, George Saunders, Tracy K. Smith, Ayelet WaldmanJesmyn Ward, and Gene Luen Yang.

MORE HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.