Author Archive

On Reading Less

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A part of me believed that the amount of books I read revealed whether I had a good year, whether I’d done more than I expected or had failed to keep up.

Why Write Short Stories?

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Much like our lives, short stories are brief and end abruptly. They summon entire worlds in just a few pages and then bow out, with startling precision and compression. It is a delicate balance, and such delicate work requires small hands.

Step Inside My Skin and Dance Around in It: On Literary Translation

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For days, while I revised my translation, I looked for the right words to tell the protagonist’s mother that he’s terminally ill. Even though the protagonist’s life is nothing like my own, I couldn’t help but climb inside his skin and walk around in it.

On Movement: the Writer as Walker

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Many writers have explored the pleasures of walking, including the likes of Virginia Woolf and Amy Hempel. There is a whole canon that depicts and analyzes the connection between moving through geographical terrains and mental ones.

Beyond the Olympics: Reading Brazil

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Beyond the leading sporting events and the idyllic beaches (and the political crisis), there is a Brazil of varied landscapes and experiences. These days I find myself returning over and over again to books that show another side of Brazil, books that are capable of challenging stereotypes.

“If I Can Bear the Nights, the Days Are a Pleasure”: On Not Writing

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I’m a slow writer and I accepted that a long time ago. But earlier this year, I noticed I was becoming slower and slower, writing a sentence a day, even a sentence a week at times. I was experiencing a period of drought.

Living Between Languages: Notes on Language and Loss

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I was seventeen years old when I started working at the front desk of a beach resort in my coastal city in Brazil and began to teach myself my first sentences in English. In the tourism industry, English was currency, and as such I wanted to earn it.

Searching for Artifacts: An Interview with Sara Majka

In the opening piece in Sara Majka’s haunting debut collection of linked stories, Cities I’ve Never Lived In, the narrator announces that she is in the middle of a divorce and about to board a train into a city. Her solution to her problems is “to move from place

As the Train of Fiction Rolls On, the Space Between

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Last year, I interviewed Pam Houston about her novel Contents May Have Shifted and the fine line between fact and fiction. “Well, I don’t think of it as a fine line,” she wrote to me in an email. My task as a writer has always been to take the

The Art of Dialogue for the Reticent

I write down bits of conversation I overhear in the train, in the park, at the checkout line, and borrow the more memorable ones for my own fiction writing. I am interested in the lines that sound strange or nonsensical, because they show a sense of character and intimacy