100 Books That Defined the Decade
For good, for bad, for ugly.
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts (2015)
Empirically speaking, we are made of star stuff. Why aren’t we talking more about that?
Essential stats: Nelson’s groundbreaking work of “autotheory” was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism and was a New York Times bestseller. In 2016, Nelson won a MacArthur “Genius” grant.
Why was it defining? In a decade in which discussions of gender, desire, sexuality, and the porous boundaries inherent in all of these have come starkly to the fore, The Argonauts is a clear and important book: a memoir and a work of theory at once, covering Nelson’s relationship with the artist Harry Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, and how they built a family together. It is important as social criticism, it is important as memoir and, frankly, it is important as art.
Watch this salon given at Barnard in honor of Nelson and the book:
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