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Granta 77: What We Think of America [Paperback]

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Item description for Granta 77: What We Think of America by Ian Jack...

Published in the U.S. since 1979, Granta is a handsomely illustrated paperback featuring outstanding articles. "Granta's contributors constitute an impossibly distinguished list." --- The Washington Post

Outline Review
The bulk of Granta 77: What We Think of America is devoted to exploring the effect of American culture, politics, and economics on 24 writers in light of the horrific events of 9/11. As editor Ian Jack states in his introduction, the pieces here "are not about that day, nor are they excuses for it," but an attempt to understand why, after the initial outpouring of sympathy, a mood of anti-Americanism seemed to take hold. The most vocal critics of the period argued that America's policies had, effectively, "caused" the attacks; strains of "they had it coming to them" were also heard across the globe.

With the exception of Harold Pinter who describes the United States as a "fully-fledged, award-winning, gold-plated monster," the majority of contributors offer only fairly measured critiques of American foreign policy. Ahdaf Soueif and Raja Shehadeh condemn its failure to address the issue of a Palestinian state. While Ramachandra Guha maintains that it is the curious coexistence of contradictory values--democratic and yet instinctively imperialist--that tends to make America "not a pretty sight" on the world's stage. John Gray argues that America is just "too rich in contradictions for any definition of it to be possible"; in his opinion it is actually "unknowable." Doris Lessing makes a similar point. In her view, all talk of "America as if it were a homogenous unity isn't useful." But she does go on to hazard a few rather pertinent "generalizations" of her own. Taken individually some of the essays are quite insubstantial, but, without wishing to be banal, it is astonishing how thought-provoking they are as whole. Ranging from the intimate and autobiographical to the polemical, they provide an intriguing assessment of the world's remaining superpower. With an excerpt from J.M. Coetzee's novel Youth and pieces from Blake Morrison and Ziauddin Sardar, this issue is an absorbing read. --Travis Elborough,

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Item Specifications...

Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.36" Width: 5.84" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.79 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2002
Publisher   Grove Press, Granta
ISBN  192900107X  
ISBN13  9781929001071  

Availability  0 units.

More About Ian Jack

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ian is an award-winning British Journalist

Ian Jack has an academic affiliation as follows - Cambridge University University of Cambridge Cambridge University New.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > General
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Essays > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Anthologies
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > United States > General
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Collections & Readers

Reviews - What do customers think about Granta 77: What We Think of America?

perspective  Jul 13, 2003
I was looking for perspective about America from an outsider's point of view. I came away from the essays with a sense that America is not viewed in perspective - that our country is viewed almost as a flat dream-like image, a projection of others' fears and dreams. This country is very big geographically. And the mix of national origins is very broad. And the mobility both physical and socioeconomic is enormous - not perfect, of course, just remarkable. I read both negative and positive views of America - and they seemed to be focusing on different slivers of America's character or perceived character - none totally untrue or irrelevant, but none displaying more than a small thread of the American fabric.

I think I did gain some perspective on the difficulty of both planning and perceiving American foreign policy. I recommend this book.

The essay 'The Habit' by Francis Spufford was completely outside the theme of the collection, but it captures, vibrantly, the experience of growing up with a passion for reading.

Inspiring Collection  Aug 31, 2002
Granta collections are always a surprise, and this one is no exception. I bought it expecting to grit my teeth while trying to come to terms with some of the frustration of the rest of the world with Americans. But instead I discovered a gathering of writers who, as much as I do, wonder at the ungraspable complexity of this nation whose belief in it itself and its ideals is as much to be praised as its uncritical and opportunistic practices are to be blamed. Both insiders and outsiders feel the right to insist that American values be upheld. This collection is not a serious critique but it is an amazing collection of meditations on America as uplifting as they are a reminder of how much and how long we Americans have lazily indulged in cynicism about our political process.
Different than you would think  Aug 12, 2002
I bought Granta 77 expecting a pointed analysis of US foreign policy since September 11- with particular emphasis placed opinions on muslim countries. I wanted to hear what people were thinking of the US pulling out of the Kyoto Treaty, not ratifying the Anti-Land Mine Treaty, maintaining support for Isreal during the current occupation of the Palestinean territories, and other provacative, liable-to-be-misconstrued, actions taken by the US in recent years which are obviously smearing the good name of the US - for reasons perhaps justified, perhaps not.

What I got instead was a series of 24 often affectionate ruminations on how the USA, and the "idea" of the USA, has affected the lives and imaginations of writers from around the globe. Some essays are simply mini-memoirs of how some small bit of americana (comic book superheros, in one instance) transformed a life.

Some readers may be disappointed to note that only passing mention is made of September 11 in a few of the essays. Taken as a whole, however, the 24 essay present an underlying sense that the current behaviour of the US is, in a way, disappointing to these writers- who, from movies, school lessons, and personal contact with the USA, have come to admire the ideals of the country and the people who live there. A common theme is a "dislike America but love Americans" sensibility.

Granta 77 is sucessful because the essays are more ambivilant and nuanced than one expects them to be. Also included is an interesting photo essay on Afghansitan.

disappointing  Jun 10, 2002
Some of the readings in this issue are better than others, but overall, Granta #77 was a disappointment. The criticism that appears in this issue America is seldom critical enough--one pleasant exception, however, is in the short essay by Harold Pinter. Also very enjoyable was the short story--irrelavent to the theme--by Coatzee, "Youth." This story was a well-done analysis of, among other things, the human aspect of the corporate world. There are a couple dry but informative readings that are worthwhile, though, if you're not up on your goings on in the middle east.

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