Critical Essays Archive

Women Inventing Feminine Language

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To talk about women’s language as wounded is problematic because for so long women’s wounds were either taboo or fetishized. In order to avoid this fetishizing, women find new means of expression by writing outside of existing structures.

Gulfs and Storms

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The presence in Belle Boggs’ new novel of the Gulf of Mexico parallels an exploration of the other gulfs that threaten us: between politics and art, art and money, and between people of different beliefs.

The Threat of Forced Domesticity in Pond

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Throughout the twenty stories in Claire-Louise Bennett’s 2015 short story collection, Bennett engages with the relationship between the exterior, natural world and the interior, domestic spaces that her narrator inhabits.

Genderqueer Ancestry in Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts

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The locus of self in Solomon’s science fiction novel is tied to the body, a genderqueer body deeply and beneficially in conversation with the bodies, of all genders and none, that came before it.

The Multiple Consciousnesses of Exile

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Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s humor and literary power bring a fresh, clear, and unapologetic voice to the experience of living as an other in the global North while simultaneously shedding light on exile’s true absurdity: that society remains apathetic toward the exiled.

The Fiction of Genius

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The social cost of the fiction of genius, which upholds the elite few as inherently more brilliant than everyone else, regardless of underlying biases and inequalities, is unknowable. Helen DeWitt nevertheless captures a sense of this loss across her novel with equal parts fire, humor, and grief.

An Artist’s Journey in The American Painter Emma Dial

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Samantha Peale’s 2010 novel opens with a celebrated painter standing alongside his regular, slightly awe-struck collectors, directing his assistant as she finishes a moody seascape for him.

The Language of Solitary Women

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In amplifying the tension that lies between a woman’s internal language and her external one, novels by Claire-Louise Bennet and Sayaka Murata examine the woman living on the periphery of her society.

Storytelling in The Collected Schizophrenias

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Anti-stigma work asks us to say, for example, that a person has schizophrenia, rather than is schizophrenic, so the person’s identity does not entirely merge with their condition. In a similar way, Esmé Weijun Wang’s essays move us firmly and resolutely away from the person as a hollowed, misshapen

The Intersection of Memory and Power in The Witch Elm and A Thousand Acres

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The power structures under which we operate can mold and distort our memories, and potentially destroy our lives.