Shame, Shamelessness, and Violence

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Salman Rushdie’s fantastical 1983 novel explores and illustrates the slippery relationship between shame and violence—when accumulated, the former often leads to the latter.

James Joyce and Rebecca Lee’s Dinner Party Revelations

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In fiction, it is never a good idea to attend a dinner party. We read dinner party stories to get messy, to get everybody drunk, and to hear what they’ve been keeping quiet about for years. These fictional parties almost always end in a revelation, and usually not a

How the United States Nurtures Violence

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While the characters of Laila Lalami’s newest novel confront and sometimes overcome the discomfort caused by their differences, Lalami presents one final troubling question for her readers: what markers of violence have our willingly blind eyes allowed to fester?

The American Dream in The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit

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Lucette Lagnado’s 2007 memoir is a testament to the difficulties that are so inherent to the immigration process that even a family of people who are educated, upper-class, and well-off experience them.

Memory and Heartbreak in To The River

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While Olivia Laing’s 2011 book is a remarkable piece of nature writing, it is, at its core, a book about a heart mending itself and the unwieldiness of memory.

Visiting Haworth

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From childhood, the Brontë siblings held each other’s intellects in high esteem and together made a web—a story-catcher—out of their own disparate interests, their ideas acting as warp and woof, their mutual love and respect a catalyst for their later works.

Garden Journal of a Death Foretold

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The garden is a riot. Tiger lilies stifling the mailbox, butterflies on pink milkweed blooms, pansies in baskets. Standing on the front porch drenched in this splendor, I welcome the celebration and fear the powerful spirits that bring such life. What is most alive is also very close to

The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa

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Ogawa could have written a political thriller but opts instead for a closer look at communities under siege by the very political forces that should be protecting them.

The Uncannily Foreign World of Westside

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Reading W.M. Akers’ debut novel is a magnificent experience, but it is uncomfortable, to say the least—the world it depicts, a 1921 version of Manhattan, is not so unfamiliar after all. As fantasy novels often do, the book offers a disturbing allegory for our times.

The Dissolution of Absolutes en La Frontera

Gabino Iglesias’s recent novel revolves around multiple characters journeying through la frontera, the border between the United States/Mexico. In each of the characters’ stories, however, there are multiple journeys being made, multiple borders being crossed, and as their stories progress, what they're striving for is less and less clear.