“Pessimism of the Will & Optimism of the Intellect” (Antonio Gramsci)
Hello! Welcome to this short summary of myself. I define myself as a writer, reader, translator, teacher, lover of staying up late at night, of wandering through cities and watching the stars, coffee, documentary films, medieval ruins, and poetry in languages other than my own. My reading ranges across novels (Fyodor Dostoevsky and Virginia Woolf are among my favorites), philosophy (I adore Giambattista Vico and Walter Benjamin), and poetry (I love Mahmoud Darwish and Zbigniew Herbert, among others).
Instead of trying to summarize my life, I will show some…
Having a literary agent is the dream of many writers. Countless blog posts, forums, and writers’ handbooks begin with the question: How do you get a literary agent? To these sources, it seems that all a writer needs to do is secure an agent, and every other problem, from finding a publisher to making a living as a writer, is solved.
However, there are many ways in which your relationship with a literary agent can go wrong, and end up causing more damage to your career than if you had never contracted to have that person represent you. This applies…
Many articles on Medium deal with writing for a general audience, and with getting published by the top magazines. However, there another domain of writing that is relatively neglected on this forum: peer-reviewed scholarship. Most often, peer-reviewed scholarship takes the form of journal publications, but it can also take the form of books. This article will show you how to write well in this domain.
First, we should address the reasons for writing for peer-reviewed journals. Is it worth your time and energy?
The most obvious reason for publishing scholarship is if you have — or are seeking — an…
Circassian history is known only in the broadest of outlines to regional specialists and not at all to most outside observers.
The destruction of the Shapsug, Abkhaz, Adyghe, Ubykh, and Kabardian peoples — collectively called Circassian and resident for millennia on the north shore of the Black Sea — did not occur in a single historical moment. Nor was it ever wholly complete. The annihilation transpired over generations, and traversed the vast territories of the Russian and Ottoman empires during their most expansive phases.
When the Boston bombing trial dominated the media, its perpetrators, the Tsarnaev brothers, were associated with a geography scarcely known by Americans: Chechnya. If there was any examination in Chechnya’s history, rarely did it go beyond this: the bombers hailed from a Republic whose leader, Dudaev, had briefly made a bid for independence in 1992, the upshot of which was a catastrophic twenty-year-long war that decimated the local population.
As someone who has recently been immersed in several contract negotiations for my books, I want to share here some of what I have learned. Although these guidelines are intended primarily for book authors, they apply broadly to any kind of rights to your work. I have included a few tips for selling the rights to your articles as well. They are based on my experience as a published author, translator, and editor of over ten books (some of which are currently in production). Learn from my mistakes!
In my first book contract (with Yale University Press) I was so…
High in the mountains running along the border between Azerbaijan and Georgia, in the garrison town of Zaqatala, former outpost of the famed Imam Shamil who in the mid-nineteenth century led the longest resistance to Russian rule, I meet an elderly woman crossing the street.
“Come inside and drink some tea with me,” she said. “I have lived in this town all my life,” she explains. “I have pictures to show you. I will tell you the history of everything.”
Across the annals of travel literature past and present, the Caucasus is known for the premium local inhabitants place on hospitality. It was not, however, a desire to conform to stereotypes that led a young student at Grozny University by the name of Timur to give me, in the summer of 2004, a gift I never asked for or expected and to place me in a debt it has taken over a decade to discharge.
It was my first trip to the Caucasus. The second Russo-Chechen war (1999–2009) had only just begun to yield to an unstable peace. Russian conscripts…