Author Archive

Femininity and The Art of Looking in Suite for Barbara Loden, The White Dress, and Exposition

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Nathalie Léger’s triptych examines the life of a woman artist while also interrogating her relationship to the artist, to her own mother, and to herself.

Secondhand Time in Olga Slavnikova’s The Man Who Couldn’t Die: The Tale of an Authentic Human Being

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Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, ordinary citizens faced immense daily challenges. What was also lost in this period was a system of belief, an ideology that had legitimized an entire society since the 1917 Revolution, resulting in a feeling of living through a period of

The Uncanny in Girlhood

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Novels by Guadalupe Nettel and Carmen Boullosa rely on estrangement as a primary means to evoke the liminal terrors of adolescence. To read either one is to be freed, at least temporarily, from one’s automatic perceptions and to be returned again to the strange and raw world of childhood.

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.