Can Fiction Teach Us How to Live in a World Full of Suffering?

Reading and Writing Can Help Us Understand the Difficult Past and Imagine Better Futures

Any work of fiction is an investigation of aftermath, borne of the world that has already occurred. Fiction offers readers as well as writers the possibility to explore past transgressions and raise complex ethical and intellectual questions about responsibility—and culpability, guilt, betrayal, and remorse.

Patrick Modiano’s The Occupation Trilogy, J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Paradise are three works that dig deeply into these inquiries and grapple with the sins of empire. Each asks: What forces shape the present moment? Who bears responsibility for the suffering and inhumanities of …

Zócalo’s 2023 Summer Reading List Delivers Much-Needed R&R

Your Season of Rest and Reads Is Here, Courtesy of Our Friends and Contributors

This summer, we could all use a little R&R—rest and reads, that is. And while Zócalo can’t help you with the first part (though if we could send a beach …

Los Angeles Will Always Be a Character in My Story | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Los Angeles Will Always Be a Character in My Story

For Three Generations, a Writer’s Family Has Lived and Loved in the City of Angels

It took until the cusp of middle age—the ripe age of 39—for me to write what would become my first book.

The spark for this new stage of my life was …

Every Era’s Vampires Require New Blood | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Every Era’s Vampires Require New Blood

A Queer, Multiracial Adaptation of Anne Rice’s Seminal Novel Follows a 200-Year-Old Tradition

For all the puffy shirts, brooding glances, and implicit queerness of Interview with the Vampire, the blockbuster 1976 novel by the late Anne Rice that became the 1994 cult classic …

Zócalo’s 2022 Summer Reading List Charts New Waters

From Poets to Politicians, Our Friends Suggest Intellectual Travel Companions as We Set Sail for the Season

We at the good ship Zócalo are setting sail for another summer of intellectual exploration. As always, to aid us on this important voyage, we’ve recruited an intrepid crew of …

Why Do We Love ‘Choose-Your-Own-Adventure’ Stories?

From the I Ching to an Upcoming Netflix Romcom, Interactive Fiction Dares Us to Decide What Happens Next

The new Netflix original horror movie Choose or Die turns on an interactive computer game called “CURS>R,” which resembles a classic ’80s adventure program in which a user inputs text …