Rereading the classics in the midst of the new coronavirus

SFC-4_Apr_2020v2My April 7, 2020 book culture column for the San Francisco Chronicle:

When I was in college a million years ago, it was the beginning of the countercultural exhortation to “throw out all the dead white men” in the Western literary canon. As one who leaped at every opportunity to rebel, I took the suggestion to heart and read all the African (Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, et al.) and Latin American (Marquez, Borges, Jorges Amado) literature I could get my hands on and eschewed Dickens, Tolstoy, Proust and the like. I even avoided Jane Austen and Emily Bronte. Despite the fact that they weren’t men, they were both white and dead.

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