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Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan StevensCourtesy of Asthmatic Kitty

Sufjan Stevens shares a collection of mini essays about love and illness

Written to accompany his new album Javelin, the collection explores themes of religion, romantic love and illness

Sufjan Stevens is publishing a collection of prose works, which form an accompanying booklet to his new album, Javelin, and can be read exclusively on AnOther. Across ten short essays, Stevens returns to many of the preoccupations that have defined his career, including religion, the meaning of God, romantic love, illness, and emotional pain.

The essays are rich, dense, lyrical, at times deeply sad, and their portrayal of physical frailty feels especially poignant after Steven’s recent revelation that he was left unable to walk after suffering from a rare nerve disease. Despite the occasional bleakness of their subject matter, however, the essays are ultimately about the ways that we search for – and occasionally find – transcendence, meaning, and redemption.

The lyrics of Sufjan Stevens have always had a literary quality. Many of his songs have the feel of a short story, creating a self-contained world through suggestive references, snatches of dialogue and the evocation of place, while his albums are rightly celebrated for their grand, novelistic scope.

Throughout his career, he has been compared to a pantheon of American literary greats, such as Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, and he is himself an avid reader: in 2021, he released a list of his 11 favorite books of the year, and it was an impressively diverse selection, featuring the Bible, Lydia Davis, Joan Didion, Truman Capote, and the collected diaries of the great crime writer Patricia Highsmith. 

Read Sufjan Stevens’ essays on AnOther here.