Teju Cole: The novelist loses, every time. Politics is insidious, the modern conduct of war (from shoulder-launched rockets to drone strikes) is insidious. Someone presses a button in California and twenty people are incinerated at a wedding in Pakistan. The killer is spared the sight of the corpses. The novelist can’t successfully depict such horrifying reality. But she can, and must, try, to bear witness. There are many ways of doing this; the mode I prefer is indirect.