Other Septembers, Many Americas: Selected Provocations, 1980–2004
Here, in the tradition of Barbara Kingsolver's national bestseller Small Wonder, are reflections on the meaning of America in a time of great crisis by a writer uniquely situated to offer us a perspective that is both familiar and constantly surprising. "Let me tell you, America, of the hopes I had for you," Dorfman writes after the fall of the Twin Towers, remembering back to an earlier September 11 in 1973, when he was on the staff of Salvador Allende, then president of Chile, the day he was removed from office and murdered in a coup in which the U.S. government was complicit. "Beware the plague of victimhood, America … Nothing is more dangerous than a giant who is afraid."
Included in Other Septembers, Many Americas are major essays about the America south of the border, exploring the ambiguous relationship between power and literature and touching on topics as diverse as bilingualism, barbarians, and video games. In the essay "A Different Drum," Dorfman asks, "Isn't it time, as war approaches yet again, to tell each other stories of peace over and over again?" Over and over in these jewel-like essays, his best shorter work of the last quarter-century, Dorfman weaves together sentiment and politics with his sense of the larger historical questions, reminding Americans of our unique role in the world, so different from the one put forward by the current administration: the power to resist and to imagine.
"Over the years, Ariel Dorfman has written movingly and often brilliantly of the cultural dislocations and political fractures of his dual heritage. Dorfman has, in an impressive body of work, done justice to the two languages that have battled for his voice and the two countries that claim his allegiance." —Shashi Tharoor, The New York Times Book Review