Author Archive

The Position of English

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Jhumpa Lahiri’s work in Italian is reminiscent of liturgy books with Koine Greek on the left side and English on the other. That she includes the “little brother,” a moniker she’s given Italian, in her 2015 book—and on the left side—is a reversal of the norm.

The Artist’s Journey in What’s Left of the Night

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“Weak expression Poor artistry,” reads the fictional note in red pencil on Constantine Cavafy’s sheaf of poems sent to the poet Jean Moréas in Ersi Sotiropoulos’s 2015 novel, translated by Karen Emmerich.

The Colonizers

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Claire Messud’s novel intimately considers the legacy and trauma of the pieds-noirs through the story of a family living in Marseilles, France in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Power of a Woman’s Voice

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Lilliet Berne, the orphan turned courtesan turned opera star who serves as the protagonist of Alexander Chee’s 2016 novel, embodies the complicated interchange of power and weakness that accompanies a woman’s silence.

The World of Yesterday’s Documentation of the Great Wars

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Stefan Zweig’s autobiography serves as a poignant warning as the world grapples with the rise of ethno-nationalism.

Womanhood in A. E. Stallings’ Like

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In Stallings’ new collection of poetry, women are immersed in what it means to be a mother, and to see oneself growing older.

Michel Houellebecq’s Submission and the Liberal Man

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Michel Houellebecq has always been a provocative writer and in fact considers himself to be a real provocateur, someone who “says things he doesn’t think, just to shock,” and who leans into that shock when he has a sense that people will hate it.

Writing, Insecurity, and Eighth Grade

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Writers, like all artists, experience things twice—once in the moment, and again when attempting to draw out the details of what has happened to bring a work to life. In the digital age, however, many experiences have been stripped of vibrancy.

Remembering Pain in Allen Ginsberg’s “Kaddish”

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In “Kaddish,” Ginsberg bears witness to his mother’s pain and struggles; he intones her name over and over again as if to deify her. It is in that painful remembrance that, during that panicked time of terrorism and political instability, I drew hope.

Writing in the In-Between

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Writers squeeze writing in between their full-time work, even if they don’t talk about it. Journalist and TV anchor Jake Tapper did just that in writing his political thriller, which he wrote sometimes in intervals of only fifteen minutes at a time.