Oksana, Behave! and Olive, Again

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New novels by Maria Kuznetsova and Elizabeth Strout, written in the form of chapter-length stories, give us the opportunity to see a great span of a life and to focus in on the moments that matter.

In Search of Collateral Beauty: Counting Spells in the NICU

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My left leg is still numb from the epidural, so my husband pushes me in a wheelchair to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I’m wearing an oversized hospital gown and a pair of blue, anti-slip socks. It’s sometime in the evening, but I don’t know exactly when; time has

Girl by Edna O’Brien

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Edna O’Brien performs a sort of tight-rope act, strung between the stream-like nature of her prose and the painful shards of her story. Brutality stomps through the pages of her new novel, astonishing in its recurrence and terrifying in the variable justifications that underpin it.

The Collector of Leftover Souls by Eliane Brum

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Eliane Brum’s journalism is a challenge to those of us living lives of comfort and privilege. Our task is to be the reporter she strives to be: one who mostly listens.

Henry James on Honoré Daumier

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For an artist whose career ended with little recognition, the yearly international exhibitions featuring Daumier’s work attest to the staying power of his vision. For James, this embodies the filial connection between the artist and the novelist—with all the love and strife that implies.

Rachel Carson’s Toxic Inheritance

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Carson’s invocation of the idea of an American pastoral penetrated by a dangerous, toxic presence is, as Lawrence Buell points out, neither new nor confined to ecological writings—or even American writings. Buell does, however, name the publication of Carson’s most famous book as the effective beginning of “toxic discourse.”

The Failure of Familial Communication in Happiness, as Such

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Natalia Ginzburg presents a family’s dysfunction as an engrossing emotional rollercoaster, yet manages to make her story both haunting and deeply human.

Rerun Era by Joanna Howard

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In her new memoir, Joanna Howard questions a world where suffering is only acceptable when it is entertaining, when it is something people can watch again and again.

Grace Paley and The Storyteller’s Pain

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“Good Night and Good Luck” and “Debts,” by Grace Paley, are kinetic, and suggest more than is on the page: that a good story is one that’s told, and retold, written and read, with the goal of connecting people in different places and across generations, bringing everyone involved some

The Power of Reading

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For Ocean Vuong, Jesmyn Ward, and Jaquira Diaz, reading and writing became necessities early on when their classrooms, families, and streets confined them, left them feeling othered and uncertain of their identities.