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Record producer Jonathan Wilson recorded his new album Gentle Spirit during little slivers of time when the artists he was working with — among them songwriter Jackson Browne and the rock band Dawes — were on break. The project took him four years to finish, and it's the musical equivalent of a landscape painting.

Remember reading, as a child, and feeling the fine mesh of words catch you up so completely that you became enjoyably muddled about which was the real world and which the world of the book? For me, it was as though I gulped down the language of the story and grew fat with its cadences — they rang in my ears, colored my vision and pulsed in my throat.

As I got older, I lost some of that easy susceptibility. What had once been a permeable membrane between fiction and life solidified.

I first came across Sultana's Dream while doing research for a novel set in Bangladesh. I had traveled to Dhaka, the capital city, and stumbled on the Liberation War museum, where my visit coincided with an exhibition on the story.

I became fascinated by the life of its author, Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, when I learned that, like me, she had been raised by a progressive Muslim family and actively encouraged to seek an education.

When I was a kid, I assumed that in the future things would get better and better until we were all driving flying cars and playing badminton with space aliens on top of 500-story buildings. Frankly, I kind of counted on this happening. But now I don't assume that we'll just keep going up anymore.

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