Jendella Benson’s debut novel, “Hope and Glory,” takes place in the London neighborhood of Peckham, (in)famous for its gentrification. As she approaches this setting with the same eye for world-building as writers of fantasy of science fiction, Benson learns something new about her own community.
In her contribution to Literary Hub, Jendella Benson dismisses the word “gentrification” as “cliché.” She writes, “It is a flat term that speaks of boxy rooms in new build apartments and nameless hipsters and craft beer.” Instead, her debut novel, Hope and Glory, seeks to characterize the gentrified (Benson herself can’t afford to live in the setting for her own book anymore), whilst acknowledging the systemic and institutional phenomenon of “gentrification” at the same time.
Although I haven’t experienced gentrification as a white American who grew up in the Middle Class neighborhoods of South Metro Denver, I’ve witnessed it firsthand. People can’t afford to live in their own communities, turned out onto the streets after one delinquent rent payment too many, where drugs are their only solace and crime is their only access to our society’s capitalistic resources for survival. I may not be the right one who can speak to it, but I call upon all the Jendella Bensons of the world to do it for themselves.
With eight translations slated for his works in the Western world, Vladimir Sorokin, a Russian writer, encourages his fellow countrymen (and women) to combat Putin’s “fake news” with the truth.
Having left Russia for Germany three days before the invasion of Ukraine, Alexandra Alter of The New York Times writes that Vladimir Sorokin “seemed disoriented, but not surprised, to find himself facing what could be a long exile.” Beginning his career in letters as an underground Soviet author, English-language publishers are currently preparing eight new translations of his subversive works for Western audiences. An admirer of Dostoyevsky, Sorokin said in an interview last month, “A Russian writer has two options: Either you are afraid, or you write.”
With Putin’s right-wing ideology penetrating democracies around the globe (perhaps most alarmingly in the United States, where Trumpism almost sparked an apocalyptic war against China), Sorokin’s words ring true not just in Russia. Indeed, President Vladimir Putin, dictator of the Russian Federation, compared himself to transphobic English author J.K. Rowling in his own condemnation of “cancel culture.” As Putin’s propaganda spreads worldwide, all literary artists must meet misinformation with the truth, or else watch their respective cultures enter the future while returning to a regressive past, much like in one of Sorokin’s stories.