Daniel Alarcón’s Resistance Reading

Authors pick books that bring solace and understanding in a time of rancor.


We asked a range of authors and creative types to name books that bring solace or understanding in this age of rancor. More than two dozen responded. Here’s what the Peruvian American novelist Daniel Alarcón, who is also an executive producer for NPR’s Radio Ambulante, had to share with us.

Latest book: At Night We Walk in Circles
Also known for: Lost City Radio
Recommended reading: Nazi Literature in the Americas was one of the first of Roberto Bolaño’s books I ever read, and for that reason alone I remember it fondly. It’s hilarious, disturbing, bizarre, humane—a faux encyclopedia of failed attempts to use art to justify fascism. Those who’ve read Distant Star will recognize the themes, and even a few of the characters.

James Baldwin, The Last Interview: No one is as trenchant and unforgiving and sharp about race and love and class in America as Baldwin.

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood: Sometimes I think dystopian literature is the only literature we can write these days. That Atwood’s masterpiece feels so resonant today, more than 30 years after it was published, is singularly depressing. Read it as a cautionary tale.

Illustration by Allegra Lockstadt
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The complete series: Daniel Alarcón, Kwame Alexander, Margaret Atwood, W. Kamau Bell, Ana Castillo, Jeff Chang, T Cooper, Michael Eric Dyson, Dave Eggers, Reza Farazmand, William Gibson, Mohsin Hamid, Piper Kerman, Phil Klay, Alex Kotlowitz, Bill McKibbenRabbi Jack Moline, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Peggy Orenstein, Wendy C. Ortiz, Darryl Pinckney, Joe Romm, Karen Russell, George Saunders, Tracy K. Smith, Ayelet WaldmanJesmyn Ward, and Gene Luen Yang.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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