New York Times Reviews “How to Read Now”

For Elaine Castillo, Reading Is Politics

The essays in “How to Read Now” pose earnest questions about interpretation, inheritance and human understanding.

By Jane Hu

“White supremacy makes for terrible readers,” Elaine Castillo writes in her essay collection, “How to Read Now.” The sentence, like the book’s title, is both a dig and a dare, which blooms into an urgent plea: “We need to change how we read.” For Castillo, born in California to Filipino immigrants, this “we” is “generally American”; her book is directed toward the marginalized communities that make up a large part of this country.

Castillo’s debut novel, “America Is Not the Heart,” depicted the everyday lives of Filipina migrant laborers (nurses, maids, sex workers) who are too rarely foregrounded in American literature. The book acknowledged its literary debt — to Carlos Bulosan’s foundational 1943 novel “America Is in the Heart,” about Filipino farmers in Depression-era California — while also expanding its relevance for contemporary readers. Read the full review at the New York Times.

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