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Jhumpa Lahiri

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Most people think my bookcase is chaos. I don’t organize my books alphabetically, chronologically, or by genre. But there is a system and to me, it somehow makes sense: I arrange my books according to what authors I think would enjoy each other’s company. Catherine Lacey resides next to Flannery O’Connor. Colson Whitehead next to Sherwood Anderson. Ann Beattie next to F. Scott Fitzgerald. In this unconventional and somewhat bizarre arrangement, living authors rub elbows with the dead. Until recently, I never gave the fact that I read contemporary novels much thought. I always regarded them as inseparable from the rest of literature, some even more compelling than certain classics. It was not until my American Literature professor informed the class that he refused to read contemporary novels that I realized such a literary proclivity even existed. When asked why, he said he’d rather read something that had “stood the…