New Scholar 4.1 (2016)

This essay examines the loop of contemporary American literary production and reception. Firstly, I read Nam Le's 'Meeting Elise,' from The Boat (2008), Le's much-awarded collection of short stories set across the globe, alongside Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis (2003), a novel that depicts the daylong journey in a limousine of a billionaire currency trader down New York's 47th St. Secondly, I compare Le's and DeLillo's different cosmopolitanisms against the cosmopolitan scene of New York City book reviews. I argue that a graphic depiction of pain and the male body-a 'patriarchy of pain'-reveals a tension between the local and the transnational in the field of contemporary literature and reception, and that this tension reflects and informs the how the field bestows and withholds value. Le and DeLillo, I argue, as figures of different cosmopolitanisms, further complicate matters. What Donald C. Goellnicht has called Le's 'refugee cosmopolitanism' is regarded differently than DeLillo's New York, older cosmopolitanism. The regard of difference demonstrates a continuation of the older mode as it encounters the newer mode. This creates a hierarchy to the scene of the cosmopolitanism of the New York book reviews, what I call 'hierarchical cosmopolitanism,' one that confers value to those it admits.