Author Archive

Female Agency in Dystopian Novels

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Recent novels by Leni Zumas and Naomi Alderman reimagine the fate of female agency with the urgency of our time.

Mornings with Merwin

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
W.S. Merwin loves mornings. In his more than fifty books, the former US Poet Laureate and winner of the Pulitzer Prize depicts morning’s beauty in mist, light, shadow, and birdsong. As Merwin captures these moments of nature’s awakening, he reveals the depths of his own awakenings too.

Birds and the Conjuring of Grief

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
There is no better depiction of the way grief perches in the heart than recent books by Helen MacDonald and Max Porter.

The Alchemy of Science and Storytelling

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
As a writer and botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer weaves lyric storytelling with science, gleaned from both Western institutions and the indigenous wisdom of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation to which she belongs.

Writing the Unknown in Memoir

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Novelists, Vladimir Nabokov once said, are “more fully at home on the surface of the present than in the ooze of the past.” Great memoirists, on the other hand, are not fully at home in the present until they navigate their way through this ooze.

The Story and the Overstory

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Works by Richard Powers and Paul Harding use innovative structures to communicate the messages at their heart.

More Than Lines in the Sand: Fifty Years of Desert Solitaire

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Fifty years ago, Edward Abbey could already see the trampling of industry on the fragile desert country he had grown to love during his time as a ranger in what is now Arches National Park.

Stories of Displacement

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
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.

A Life in Fragments

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
I have been most moved by writing that tells a story in fragments, often ones that are weighted with emotion and significance to the life of the narrator. Only after each fragment has been picked up, polished, and assembled in place, jagged edge to jagged edge, does the meaning

Reimagining Immigration in a World of Portals

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
I would argue that there is on one hand literature that allows readers to escape reality, and on the other hand literature that forces readers to see their reality more clearly. Mohsin Hamid has accomplished the latter in his imaginative novel published last year, Exit West, and it is