May 5, 2009
Wai Chee Dimock's book Through Other Continents: American Literature Across Deep Time received lots of praise and some criticism when it came out in 2006 from Princeton University Press. It's still being reviewed and it continues to be controversial. A recent review by Paul Giles can be found in the Dec. 2008, Vol. 69, No.4 issue of Modern Language Quarterly. As Ms. Dimock's publisher notes, she reads "American literature as a subset of world literature. Inspired by an unorthodox archive--ranging from epic traditions in Akkadian and Sanskrit to folk art, paintings by Veronese and Tiepolo, and the music of the Grateful Dead-- Dimock constructs a long history of the world, a history she calls "deep time." Giles says the book "is testimony to the often brilliant critical practice that functions through cross-referencing and juxtaposition, illuminating distant and proximate, high culture and low culture, in the light of each other. " No wonder Blues for Allah is an inspiration for Dimock.