'Writers on America'
This book originated as an intriguing suggestion by Mark Jacobs, a U.S. foreign service officer with our State Department staff who also happens to be a working novelist. If we were to ask a contemporary group of American poets, novelists, critics, and historians what it means to be an American writer, Jacobs proposed, the results could illuminate in an interesting way certain America values -- freedom, diversity, democracy -- that may not be well understood in all parts of the world.
In the spirit of trying an experiment, that is what we did. Choosing 15 writers who have attained a certain stature for their work, with the group as a whole reflecting the considerable diversity of American writing today, we commissioned each to write an essay. The assignment: In what sense do you see yourself as an American writer?