Author Archive

White Melancholia

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To both Toni Morrison and Jess Row, American literary output has been marked by an often unconscious awareness of the racial other. To Row, an avoidance in recent white literature serves a kind of protective function for white writers and readers, acting as a shield against our own shame.

Truth and Memory in Speedboat and Sleepless Nights

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Renata Adler and Elizabeth Hardwick’s novels mine their author’s experience in order to present a kind of fictional truth that is separate from the mere external facts of their lives, even as they borrow and reincorporate some of those facts.

“I think the act of translating makes you a better writer”: An Interview with Samantha Schnee

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Schnee recently undertook the task of translating from the original Spanish a novel, by Carmen Boullosa, based on another novel, first published in Russian in 1878.

Tending the Shared Garden of Immunity

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In trying to understand immunity as concept and metaphor, Eula Biss’s 2014 book reveals the profound ethical dilemma that has always inscribed itself into the vaccination debate, which, at root, is about the relationship between self and other, between individual bodies and the social body.

Chopin at the Fair

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On the main thoroughfare, known as the Pike, of the 1904 World's Fair, a display entitled "Home on the Old Plantation" featured a recreated slave cabin, complete with black actors playing the slaves. What might Chopin have thought about this?

Reckoning with the Past in Octavia Butler’s Kindred

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Far from offering us the possibility of a peaceful reconciliation with the past, Butler suggests that the only way for her protagonist to free herself from it is to assert her own worth over that of her slave-owning ancestor, even if he is her kindred.

Fighting Muteness in Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls

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A feminist retelling of the Iliad, Barker’s novel seeks to give voice to the women and girls behind the epic, and in doing so becomes a clear rebuke to centuries of patriarchal silencing.

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