Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig came home from Lollapalooza with a doozy of a memento: a copy of The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham signed by Asher Roth. (Kind of puts the frontin’ in frontispiece, amirite?) Like Maugham’s 1944 novel, which follows the wanderings of an American expatriate through Paris and India in the 1920s, Roth’s debut album Asleep in the Bread Aisle captures the mindset of an adrift seeker from the upper middle-class suburbs in an era of unprecedented geopolitical and economic crisis. One can only guess at what other post-colonial literature Koenig might proffer to other artists. Our recommendations after the jump.
The Lonely Island — Burmese Days by George Orwell
This vicious satire of British imperial rule in Burma may appeal to Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone. Their interest in class hypocrisy and easy way with cross-cultural dialogue (cf. “Ras Trent”) may or may not recall Orwell’s evocative and occasionally lyrical prose.
Flight of the Conchords — Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
Coetzee became an Australian citizen a few years ago, a decision that may be of some interest to Bret and Jemaine. This allegory of apartheid-era South Africa is regarded as Coetzee’s finest novel.
Afroman — Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
Ondaatje’s dreamlike 1993 memoir of his childhood in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) describes the shenanigans of his alcoholic father. The terse moralism of “Because I Got High” is a less poetic take on similar themes. Besides, Ondaatje’s most famous work, The English Patient, is so entry-level.
Technically, Conrad isn’t a post-colonial writer, but he started a new romantic archetype — and so did Jason Schwartzman, after a fashion. (We’re talking about “Cool Ethan,” right?) Schwartzman’s chipper indie pop probably would have been anathema to the legendarily disconsolate author, but the guy might have at least a little to say about Heart of Darkness, given that his uncle is Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now).
Vampire Weekend — Derek Walcott, In A Green Night
What would you have asked Asher Roth to sign if you had been in Ezra Koenig’s boat shoes? E.M. Forster? Salman Rushdie? Leave your ideas in the comments. (We hear bassist Chris Baio is reading Roberto Bolano’s 2666.)