Daily Distraction: Columbus authors all over NPR 2021 Books We Love list

Maggie Smith, Elissa Washuta and Hanif Abdurraqib all make an appearance

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Maggie Smith with her Boston Terrier, the finest of all canine breeds

NPR just released its Books We Love list for 2021, and, not surprisingly, Columbus authors did incredibly well, with appearances from Hanif Abdurraqib (who continues to clean up in the aftermath of A Little Devil in America), Elissa Washuta (White Magic) and poet Maggie Smith (Goldenrod).

Here's a look back at recent Alive interviews with all three writers.

Maggie Smith

“We live in a broken place, and yet it’s a beautiful place. Both are true. And I think that’s also true of individual people. We’re broken, and we’re also mostly good. And so some of it is just being able to hold those two things at the same time and not lean into it, like, ‘Well, if it doesn’t work perfectly it’s bad,’ or, ‘If we look at all this beauty, how can the world be a bad place?’ It’s both, right? And the reason it’s both is because of the decisions we make.”

Hanif Abdurraqib

“I’m someone who does my best work relatively quietly. Maybe not my writing work or my performance work, but I think beyond that, because I don’t just believe in taking a victory lap, or the centering of oneself when purporting to do work that touches many. I think I do my best work and my most careful work from a place of small and silent movements. And, sure, that’s maturity, but it’s also a happy ceding of ground to my better impulses that have always been there but maybe had not been as tapped into as they should have been.”

Elissa Washuta

“I think the book is so much about creating illusions and experiencing illusions. It’s a book about trying to be what other people wanted me to be, among other things. And one of the things I was working through in this book was trying to tailor who I was or how I presented myself to other people’s expectations, but often being wrong about what they wanted, and also certainly being wrong about that being any good for me. And I don’t think I could have meaningfully reached the conclusions that I reached without getting to the other side of it in my writing.”