Reading Archive

The Role of the Outsider in Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko

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In the Japan of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, hard-working Korean people are barred from decent jobs, safe housing, and access to protection from crime, forcing characters down non-ideal paths. Lee’s message seems to be that such paths can become honorable.

Judaism in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” and “Ask for a Convertible”

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How does one raise a child to be culturally Jewish, to speak Hebrew and find meaning in the familial and ritualistic aspects of the holidays, without going to synagogue, fasting, or talking about Hashem? How can we explain to our son that he can be American but also Israeli?

Starved for Affection: Food and Lack in Lori Ostlund’s “Talking Fowl with My Father”

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For many people, this was a year of severing toxic relationships. What does it mean to love someone who refuses to communicate? To love a person who hurts you? Lori Ostlund’s Flannery O’Connor award-winning collection The Bigness of the World takes a look at communication (and miscommunication) in numerous

Ruth Ozeki and the Anxieties of the New Millennium

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Contemporary literature has me thinking that the apocalypse isn’t about to happen to us. Instead, it’s been happening for a very, very long time. At least, this is what I read in Ruth Ozeki’s fiction.

Why Not Social Reading?

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Among the many paradoxes of life in the tech-obsessed 21st century is the fact that we sometimes find ourselves yearning for an outdated simplicity precisely because we're so tied to innovations in entertainment and social media that constantly hold our attention.

Remaking Home: Transformative Motherhood in Lisa Ko’s The Leavers

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In Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, a relationship between mother and son becomes a catalyst for analyzing domestic boundaries. At it’s heart, it’s a story about motherhood and personal responsibility.

Mugabe’s Shadow in Recent Zimbabwean Fiction

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Robert Mugabe’s resignation last month was the most significant development in Zimbabwean politics in a generation. One way of assessing the shadow of Mugabe’s brutal hold over Zimbabwe’s history is assessing the shadow he casts over Zimbabwe’s post-independence fiction. This is significant.

Deck the Halls–Merrily but Warily

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In literature, scenes of decoration are charged with dramatic potential. In leaving their marks on spaces in this exaggerated way, characters show themselves to us.

The Silence of the War in The Story of a Brief Marriage

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War is strangely quiet in Sri Lankan writer Anuk Arudpragasm’s debut novel, The Story of a Brief Marriage.The titular brevity refers to the novel’s running time, which takes place over the course of a single day, but the story and its scope are anything but perfunctory.

The Beasts of Kenzaburo Oe’s Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids

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“To them, we were complete aliens.” So begins the first attempt by the unnamed protagonist of Kenzaburo Oe’s Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids to define himself and his fellow reformatory boys in wartime Japan. His last attempt is this: “I was only a child, tired, insanely angry, tearful,