The Subtle Interrogation of Power in The Pillow Book

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Sei Shonagon’s book, completed in the year 1002, interrogates power and powerlessness through the use of formal hybridity, offering itself up as an unexpected progenitor of our current literary scene.

Turmoil, Vodou, and Female Strength in Moonbath

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By remaining subtle at times and uninhibited at others, Yanick Lahens pens an essential family saga in the midst of Haiti’s politically turbulent mid-1900s, one that casts an eye to undiscussed brutality while simultaneously upholding a joyous celebration of culture, family, and female strength.

Appalachia from the Outside

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In taking on the Rainbow Murders in her new memoir, Emma Copley Eisenberg also takes responsibility for presenting a clearer picture of Appalachia—a balance that is particularly difficult to achieve when discussing the killing of two young women.

How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang

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Zhang’s novel is a treasure-trove of questions that devastate even as they beckon readers on.

The Bittersweet Flavor of Influence

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Jonathan Fine’s recently published personal essay asks how one separates one’s own work from all that precedes it. How does one escape the anxiety of influence when influence is literally all around?

Friendship and Redemption in Veronica

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In contemporary literature, Mary Gaitskill stands out for her unapologetically sexual and taboo themes. Her work is easily characterized as gritty and explicit; it also, however, offers nuance and heart while considering questions of how people pursue pleasure and at what cost.

“One of the things I love most about literature is the possibility of inhabiting someone else’s consciousness”: An Interview with Kawai Strong Washburn

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From four perspectives, Washburn’s new novel tells the story of a family slipping apart, colliding with the rest of the world, hoping for the fulfillment of their hopes and dreams.

Reading City Without People: The Katrina Poems in an Isolated New Orleans

There’s a line in Niyi Osundare’s 2011 book that goes, “Enia lasoo mi,” which translates from Yoruba to English as, “People are my clothes.” Waking up to a seemingly emptied New Orleans, Christopher Romaguera had that line on his mind.

Love, Liberation, and Empowerment in Godshot

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Chelsea Bieker’s debut novel, out today, feels familiar, devastating, like it has already happened, could, or might again. It’s the story, too, of motherhood in all its iterations, from abandonment to adoption, at the best of times and worst, and the moments, no matter how small, of love.

Reading Letters Summer 1926: Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetayeva, Rainer Maria Rilke

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In the summer of 1926, Rilke, Pasternak, and Tsvetayeva are poised on the brink of disaster, but instead of anticipating it, or of dwelling on what may come, they write. Their letters attest to a febrile, almost frenzied creative period.