Kawabata Yasunari’s House of the Sleeping Beauties and the Male Gaze

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In his 1961 novella, Kawabata takes the idea of the male gaze and makes it concrete, a laboratory in which to test our preconceptions about masculinity and male privilege.

Fighting Muteness in Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls

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A feminist retelling of the Iliad, Barker’s novel seeks to give voice to the women and girls behind the epic, and in doing so becomes a clear rebuke to centuries of patriarchal silencing.

“What is magic but a story with solid engineering?”

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Coming from a culture where audience participation was an integral part of communal life, the novel does not offer my parents, Lao refugees, an easy entry point. So I wrote in a way where nothing would be lost if they added their own spin to the story.

Mindy Aloff’s Dance in America: A Reader’s Anthology

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The challenge of Aloff’s project stands not only in relation to the mass of written material to potentially engage, but in how to remain in keeping with the Library’s undertaking “to celebrate the words that have shaped America” when dealing with an artform that creates a world “where there

Tess Fragoulis on The Goodtime Girl

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Fragoulis roots her 2012 novel in the Greco-Turkish blues, including lyrics of well-known rebetiko songs that she has translated to transport the reader into the world of Kivelli—who, like many of her fellow refugees, pours herself into music to forget the trauma of losing everything she has known.

All My Cats by Bohumil Hrabal

Vulnerable and wise, Hrabal’s gorgeous memoir subtly probes the depths of a fragile, troubled psyche, turning a subject as potentially benign as pet ownership into a platform of interlocking drama and introspection.

Frolic and Detour by Paul Muldoon

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Like Ashbery in his final collections, or Cohen in his final albums, Paul Muldoon has nothing left to prove, and can take delight simply in doing what he inimitably does. And his delight is ours.

Ugliness in Sonallah Ibrahim’s That Smell and Notes from Prison

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Despite the trouble and humiliation Ibrahim endured as a political prisoner and later as a writer in attempting to publish his work, the timeless value of his lessons is undeniable: the impositions of decency and social and literary norms often serve only to exacerbate the problems they claim to

“Unassimilation” and Nabarun Bhattacharya’s Harbart

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Writing within the form of the novel yet against its western traditions, Bhattacharya’s presence in the international English literary sphere beckons the reader to look closer into the chaos.

Faith and Sycamore

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Kathy Fagan’s newest collection of poetry leans on its eponymous tree’s multi-colored, mottled trunks, its hefty size and spreading canopy, to provide a material figure for perseverance and resurrection, replacing those old images of “angel / wings of gold and mica.”