Authors’ Picks: Reading lists from World Voices Festival authors

Literature can satisfy many needs. When I was a kid, I loved adventure novels, from Jules Verne to Robert Louis Stevenson and Edgar Allan Poe. However, I soon started to look for more in books than mere entertainment. I began to read to understand the world and myself. For a nonbeliever—or a heathen, as an American friend liked to call me—one of the central questions is: How does one deal with a meaningless world? How do you stay alive and love life even if you’re persuaded that there is no afterlife—neither paradise nor hell?

I’ve found that the best way of finding answers to these questions, is to look to literature. Since Albert Camus’s The Happy Death and The Stranger, many authors have dealt with these topics. Perhaps they have not found definitive solutions, but they have still helped us with the beauty of their books, which feature characters who not only accept emptiness with dignity (and sometimes humor), but also embrace it and recognize its beauty.
—Peter Stamm