Writing the title of this post actually felt very silly; it seems such an arbitrary way of gathering a list of writers to look out for. What could be sillier than singling out writers in this way, according to their age? Surely, there are more worthy criteria. Well, there is an answer to what could be sillier than singling out over forty writers over forty to watch, namely, singling twenty writers under forty to watch, especially largely mainstream writers writing, for the most part, conventional and redundant fiction. And the New Yorker has done just that. But this isn’t surprising. Theirs is an idea once again institutionalizing, reinforcing our decayed culture’s obsession with youth, not to mention its eyes wide shut wallowing in mediocrity. So, not only have they missed, for the most part, who are the best fiction writers under forty to watch, but, with their unapologetic valorization of youth, they missed entirely. The following writers (and I include poets, essayists, and theorists among them) are writers who have consistently written great work. I anticipate great things from each of them in the years and years to come. With full awareness of how a corrective sometimes ironically and paradoxically legitimizes what it seeks to correct, here, in the order in which I thought of them, are over forty writers over forty whose work I will be busy watching.
Alexandra Chasin is the author of Kissed By, a collection of short innovative fictions (FC 2). Her creative work has appeared in print in Post Road, AGNI, Denver Quarterly, H.O.W., West Branch, The Capilano Review, Chain, Phoebe, and sleepingfish, and online in Exquisite Corpse, elimae and DIAGRAM, among other places. Chasin’s work has been anthologized in Wreckage of Reason: An Anthology of Contemporary XXperimental Prose by Women Writers, and Forms at War. With a PhD in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford and an MFA from Vermont College, Chasin teaches Fiction Writing at Eugene Lang College at The New School, and currently serves as the Co-chair of the Literary Studies Department there.
Sonya Chung is the author of Long for This World, recently released by Scribner. Her stories, reviews, & essays have appeared in The Threepenny Review, Crab Orchard Review, Sonora Review, and BOMB Magazine, among others. She is a recipient of a Pushcart Prize nomination, the Charles Johnson Fiction Award, and the Bronx Council on the Arts Writers’ Fellowship & Residency. She is currently at work on a second novel, Sebastian & Frederick. In fall 2010, she will join the full-time faculty of The Creative Writing Program at Columbia University. You can learn more about Sonya and her work at www.sonyachung.com.
Rachel B. Glaser grew up in northern New Jersey and befriended a bunch of open honest weirdos. She studied painting and animation at RISD and writing at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She has stories in 3rd Bed, New York Tyrant, American Short Fiction, and others. She likes dancing and night hikes and is reading a crazy book by William Gass right now. Email her at email@example.com. Check out miscellanea at rachelbglaser.blogspot.com.
Vijay Seshadri was born in Bangalore, India, in 1954 and came to America at the age of five. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where his father taught chemistry at Ohio State University, and has lived in many parts of the country, including the Pacific Northwest, where he spent five years working in the fishing and logging industries, and New York’s Upper West Side, where he was a sometime graduate student in Columbia’s Ph.D. program in Middle Eastern Languages and Literature. His collections of poems include James Laughlin Award winner The Long Meadow (Graywolf Press, 2004) and Wild Kingdom (1996). His poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in AGNI, The American Scholar, Antaeus, Bomb, Boulevard, Lumina, The Nation, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Shenandoah, The Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, Verse, Western Humanities Review, The Yale Review, the Times Book Review, the Philadelphia Enquirer, Bomb, The San Diego Reader, and TriQuarterly, and in many anthologies, including Under 35: The New Generation of American Poets, Contours of the Heart, Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times, and The Best American Poetry 1997 and 2003.