Reading Archive

Maternal Bodies in Vi Khi Nao’s Fish in Exile

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In Vi Khi Nao's Fish in Exile, Ethos and Catholic are grief-stricken at the deaths of their infant children. It is Catholic, however, whose body undergoes substantive change and becomes directly conflated with trauma and death.

Spying on the Rich in Crazy Rich Asians and Moll Flanders

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In Crazy Rich Asians (2013), Kevin Kwan offers us a window into a world of wealth capable of altering the very ontological condition of the characters who enjoy it. Reading Kwan’s novel, I’m reminded of Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders (1722).

Learning to Read Conflict in The Solar Grid

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In The Solar Grid, the people on earth are screwed. A global ecological disaster. A corporate-sponsored attempt to “fix” it, and our willingness to assign the label of “third world” to a place so we can ignore it.

What Is the Heart of a Poem?

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The first word or two of a poem is such a small thing, one word out of many, but in a poem every single word can hold the weight of the entire piece.

You Can’t Trust Anybody in Elvira Navarro’s A Working Woman (And What That Says About Us)

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Elvira Navarro’s A Working Woman, translated by Christina MacSweeney, interrogates the psyche of characters mired by the Spanish economic crisis and the realities and lies they build around themselves in search of catharsis.

Wielding Literature for Truth and Trust

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Perhaps the core difficulty in discovering truth exists in lieu of our inability to trust.

The Refugee Narrative as Ghost Story

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Migration, especially for refugees, is a violent crossing. In Viet Thanh Nguyen’s story collection The Refugees and Mai Der Vang’s Afterland, the dead, and all else the living abandoned, refuse to be left behind. 

Stealth Animal Rights Novels

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As A.A. Milne wrote in Winnie-the-Pooh, “Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.” The simple act of reading about animals challenges the conventional way that humans impose orders on other creatures, without wondering about their lives.

Perfectly Aligned: Inger Christensen’s Poetry Through Her American Translator Susanna Nied

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Though Christensen’s work has been well-loved in Europe since the publications of her first two collections of poetry, in Danish, her poetry did not reach American audiences until alphabet, translated by Susanna Nied and published by New Directions in 2001.

Virtue and Liberation: The Literary Battle for the Mind of the American Mill Girl

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Work, and the psychological impacts of work, are rarely represented in fiction, even though America has a rich literary history of labor narratives, particularly in the case of female writers, dating as far back as the mid-nineteenth century.