Der Spiegel features Rita Banerjee’s “War is Beautiful: An Interview w. David Shields”

DerSpiegelOver the holidays, Germany’s Der Spiegel and Perlentaucher: Das Kulturmagazin featured Rita Banerjee’s piece from Electric Literature: “War is Beautiful: An Interview with David Shields.”  On Shields’s new book and Banerjee’s interview, Der Spiegel wrote:

“Etwas skeptisch liest Tim Parks im Blog der NYRB den neuen Essay von David Shields “War Is Beautiful”, der die New York Times anklagt, mit ihren Kriegsfotos den Krieg zu ästhetisieren. Ganz von der Hand weisen kann Parks das nicht: “Es ist beim Durchblättern dieser Fotos kaum zu leugnen, dass sie ihre Gegenstände mit voller Absicht ästhetisieren – und auf den Betrachter somit anästhesierend wirken. Das sind Glamour-Bilder, gemacht, bewundert zu werden und keine Dokumentarbilder, die der Gewalt und dem Horror Unmittelbarkeit geben… Kurz: Wir sind weit entfernt von den nüchternen Schwarzweißbildern, die den Vietnamkrieg in der selben Zeitung illustrierten.” Parks Gegeneinwand liegt in einer Frage: “Ist es uns überhaupt möglich, dieser Verwandlung der Bestie in eine Schönheit zu entkommen?” Rita Banerjee hat schon im November bei electricliterature ein Interview mit Shields zu dem Buch geführt.”

The text can be translated as:

“In the NYRB Blog, Tim Parks somewhat skeptically reads the new essay by David Shields, War is Beautiful in which [Shields] accuses the New York Times of aestheticizing war with their war-photos.  Parks cannot totally dismiss [Shields’s claim]: “When leafing through these photos, one can scarcely deny that they [NYT] with full intention aestheticize their materials and in doing so, anesthetize the viewer.  These are Glamour-photos, made to be admired and are not Documentary-photos that give immediacy to horror and violence… In short, we are far from the sobering black and white photos of the Vietnam War, which were depicted in the same newspaper.”  Parks’s counter-argument lies in the question: “In this transformation of the beast into beauty, is it possible for us to escape at all?”  Rita Banerjee already conducted an interview with Shields about [his] book via Electric Literature in November.”

Read more about Der Spiegel‘s culture and media reviews here.

The Munich Readery Presents “An Evening with Peter Orner” – June 30, 2015 * 8 – 9 pm

peter-ornerAn Evening with Peter Orner
Moderated by Rita Banerjee
The Munich Readery * 8 – 9 pm
Augustenstr. 104, Munich, Germany

The Munich Readery is proud to host Guggenheim fellow and American fiction writer, Peter Orner on Tuesday June 30 for “An Evening with Peter Orner.”  Orner be reading from the novel Love and Shame and Love as well as from the story collection, Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge.  “I am very happy about coming back to Munich, a city I’ve always admired for its sense of calm, its architecture, food, and kind people. It’s a city I also love to wander around in and have been happily lost on its streets a number of times….” – Peter Orner

Peter Orner is an American writer and the author of four books of fiction. His first book, Esther Stories was a Finalist for the Pen Hemingway Award and Winner of the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and has been recently re-issued with a new introduction by Marilynne Robinson. His novel, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, set in Namibia, has been translated widely, including in German by Hanser. Love and Shame and Love, Orner’s second novel, has also recently been published in German by Hanser. Orner’s most recent book, a collection of stories, Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice Book last year. Orner has also published two books of non-fiction, a book on immigration in the U.S. and another about political violence in Zimbabwe. Orner is a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, and has taught at The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Bard College, The University of Montana, and teaches in the MFA Program at San Francisco State University. He lives in Bolinas, California where he is a proud member of the Bolinas Volunteer Fire Department.

Rita Banerjee teaches Character Development Workshop at the Munich Readery – October 12


Character Devleopment & Playing with Persona Workshop
Sunday, October 12, 2014 * 14:00-16:30
The Munich Readery, Augustenstraße 104, 80798 München

Femme fatales, gumshoe detectives, star-crossed lovers, wicked stepmothers, wise fools, empathetic anti-heroes: dynamic and archetypal characters can be key to making a good story or lyrical piece tick and pulling in the reader deeper into your creative work. In this workshop, we will discuss how dynamic and archetypal characters can help structure stories, propel narratives forwards, and how they can provide interesting ethical dilemmas and emotional spectrums to narratives and verse. We will learn about the building blocks of creating strong, unforgettable characters, and learn how playing with persona can help liberate nonfictional stories and lyrical poems. So if you’re currently working on a short story, novel, screenplay, theatre play, lyrical essay, memoir, or poem which has a strong and unique character at is heart, come stop by the Munich Readery on Sunday October 12 for our next creative writing workshop led by Rita Banerjee, Cambridge Writers Workshop’s Creative Director. Workshop fee: €25. To register, send an email to by October 8.

Rita Banerjee is a writer, and received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. She holds an MFA in Poetry and her writing has been published in Poets for Living Waters, The New Renaissance, The Fiction Project, Jaggery, The Crab Creek Review, The Dudley Review, Objet d’Art, Vox Populi, Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure, and Chrysanthemum among other journals. Her first collection of poems,Cracklers at Night, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2010 and received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book at the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Book Festival. Her novella, A Night with Kali, was digitized by the Brooklyn Art-house Co-op in 2011. She is a co-director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, and her writing has been recently featured on HER KIND by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.