Literary Leisure by Harvard's Very Own

College life doesn’t leave a lot of time for leisure reading. Between midterms and papers, extracurricular activities and socializing, it’s hard to find time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. However, the calm of the post-midterm lull might be a good time to take advantage of the University’s extensive library system as well as the beautiful, well-stocked Cambridge Public Library. It is rare to live in such close proximity to publishing writers, so we’ve put together a short list of recently published novels and nonfiction by Harvard College faculty.

Jamaica Kincaid, See Now Then

Many of you might be shocked to hear that the celebrated novelist Jamaica Kincaid is teaching a class here this year, African American Literature from the Beginnings to the Harlem Renaissance. You might be familiar with her more famous works, namely Annie John and Lucy. Be sure to check out her latest novel, See Now Then, and maybe have a chat with her during office hours.

James Wood, The Fun Stuff and Other Essays

You may know the brilliant literary critic by How Fiction Works, his glittering book reviews in the New York Times, and his popular class, Postwar American and British Fiction. You may not, however, be familiar with his latest work, The Fun Stuff—a collection of essays on contemporary literature. Wood might be a good place to start with leisure reading. His nuanced, highly informed passion for contemporary literature is infectious, and will surely reignite old readerly passions.

Stephen Burt, Belmont

Lauded poet and critic, Stephen Burt is teaching Literature and Sexuality, and a Poets class at the College in the Spring semester. His latest collection of poems, Belmont, was very well received by critics and readers alike. Just one piquant glimpse of his poetic mastery:

“If you mock us, Pan,
In whom we also believe, do it
As gently as you can.”

The People on the Bus

Afsaneh Najmabadi, Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran

Najmabadi is a WGS and History Professor at the college. Since the mid-1980s, the Islamic Republic of Iran has permitted and even partially subsidized sex reassignment surgery. Najmabadi explores this surprising toleration of transgender people in her historical and ethnographic research. Very interesting given the recent visibility and discussion of trans rights in the media.

Hidden Gemsrequired readingyes please

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