“A man went to knock at the king’s door and said, Give me a boat.”
—from Jose Saramago’s Tale of the Unknown Island
My friend Michael Stewart introduced me to this sentence, this magical little book, back in 2001, and for me, Saramago’s sentence—its possibility and potentiality, my first taste of fairy tale as literature, the simplicity of image, description using only the known while transporting the reader into unknown, the man’s seemingly impossible request, which is ultimately granted—opens into not only a new fantastical world for readers but also decadent, unbounded space for writers to play and explore and steal: the only reason to read.
Lily Hoang is the author of five books of prose, including Changing (recipient of a PEN Open Books Award) and A Bestiary (winner of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center's Non-Fiction Book Prize). With Joshua Marie Wilkinson, she edited the anthology The Force of What's Possible: Writers on Accessibility and the Avant-Garde. In Summer 2017, she was Mellon Scholar in Residence at Rhodes University in South Africa. S