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Watchlist. 32 Short Stories by Persons of Interest



Original Language: English | 366 pp. | Spring 2015

2 Seas Represents: Dutch, French, Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish Rights.

Rights Sold: Italy (Edizioni Clichy).


A brave and necessary set of early flares of the literary imagination into the Panopticon we all find ourselves living inside these days. —Jonathan Lethem

We are being watched. The U.S. government monitors our emails, listens in on our phone calls, tracks our movements, and collects data on a scale that was hitherto unimaginable. But the culture of surveillance extends beyond shadowy government organizations and clandestine operations.
Hundreds of millions of us regularly share the most intimate details of our life on social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook. We install cameras in our children’s bedrooms, on street corners and traffic lights. The phones in our pockets and computers in our cars communicate exactly where we are twenty-four hours a day. Someone is constantly watching and, of course, we constantly watch.

Literary critics like John Bender and Lennard Davis have claimed that stories and novels have a panopticon-like gaze. They keep watch on the culture that produces them, nothing and no one goes unobserved. That is, fiction acts as a kind of surveillance technology that allows us to document, to verify, to scrutinize, and to watch. There’s Cervantes’ Spain, Dickens’ London, and Eggers’ Silicon Valley. Fiction allows us to look closely at a particular time in a particular place and inscribe it in our imaginations, indelibly so we will not forget. This collection features some of today’s best and most prominent writers, all of whom turn their gazes towards the very culture of surveillance that we all immerse ourselves in. The stories collected here are as varied as the types of surveillance they engage. Some deal with the topic head-on: There are stories about off-shore radar facilities and birds mistaken for spies. There are absurd stories about drone strikes, and surreal stories about paintings that change when they’re not being looked at and machines that allow their dying users to look back and self-scrutinize the most significant moments of their lives.
How does constant surveillance affect us? Does it change how we behave as we seek approval or avoid judgment from an often faceless audience? Do we know who’s watching? What does it mean to be watched?

By turns political, apolitical, cautionary, and surreal, these stories reflect on what it’s like to live in the surveillance state.

Contributors include Robert Coover, Miracle Jones, Charles Yu, Katherine Karlin, David Abrams, Aimee Bender, Mark Chiusano, Cory Doctorow, Randa Jarrar, Etgar Keret, Kelly Luce, Alissa Nutting, Jim Shepard and Juan Pablo Villalobos.