Elena Ferrante & the Condition of a Woman’s Body

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In corporeal and metaphysical terms, Ferrante’s girls and women are made porous and penetrable, pervious and vulnerable, in ways that raise questions regarding the contemporary status of a woman’s body, and the modes of resistance we might fashion in changing its position.

Leïla Slimani’s The Perfect Nanny and the Perils of Female Desire

“The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds.” So begins Leïla Slimani’s French bestseller, translated into English by Sam Taylor. The thriller won France’s Prix Goncourt—Moroccan-born Slimani is only the twelfth woman to win the award—and uses an American news story as its source.

Living in Multiple Worlds: Immigration in Lucky Boy and The House of Broken Angels

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When you immigrate, you bring an entire world along with you, a fifth limb impossible to detach, though internal and external forces demand its removal. Immigrants enter into a state of constant negotiation, deliberating what stays and what goes within their sociopolitical space.

Stories of Displacement

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The stories in a new anthology edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen speak not only of estrangements from languages, loved ones, and countries of origin, but also of the pain of being in a new place that is not always accepting.

West by Carys Davies

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There is a pathos and also an infuriating self-indulgence to the central protagonist, Cy, obsessed with finding lost dinosaurs, rumours of which abound, in the lands beyond the Mississippi.

An Interview with Victor LaValle

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I learned about Victor LaValle, recent recipient of Ploughshares’s Alice Hoffman Prize, as I read an introduction to Shirley Jackson’s The Sundial, in which he recounts the humor, horror, and humanity he respects in her work.

The Importance of Reading and Writing in this Moment

What is the importance of reading and writing in this moment? Those who come from overtly troubled communities and countries have long known that literature holds enormous power: the veracity that can bring about humility, death, growth, and change.

The Poet’s Manifesto: Three Ars Poeticas

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If there is an equivalent of the artist’s statement in poetry, it’s the ars poetica. Latin for “the art of poetry,” the ars poetica shows up as early as Horace, in 19 BC, and most poets since, it seems, have written at least one.

Measuring the Unknown in Jesse Ball’s Census

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The nature of the census changes continually—it is at points a mechanism of state surveillance, a quest for self-knowledge, an act of community, a measure of goodness, an exchange, a gift.

Zadie Smith’s ‘The Lazy River’ and Social Media

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Throughout ‘The Lazy River’ Smith uses the second person to create a community on the page, not unlike the ones we flock to online. She establishes from the beginning that we, as readers, will be a part of the narrative and complicit in the action that ensues.