In a fragmented world, what remains? Presence, Sheila Heti’s newest novel insists, in all its broken and halfhearted and odd forms. Being present, however halfheartedly, to people and to texts is one balm for this condition.
For the people of Lapvona, the fictional Middle Ages village of Ottessa Moshfegh’s new novel, religiosity is less an articulation of faith or devotion and more of narrative concern. The central questions of faith are simply questions of what everything adds up to.
In Elif Batuman’s new novel, Selin is trying to figure out how to narrate love, how to make it make narrative sense; on the way, she figures out what love and novels have to do with each other.
At its most fundamental level, Jennifer Egan’s new novel is about stories, about how humans are inclined to shape information into narrative.
Rebecca Scherm’s approach to technology is both familiar and alien to us. Our devices pull us further apart from one other. Yet this sense of hyper-connection is still connection. Read through the register of family, the relational potential for technology gets even murkier.
Ling Ma and Calvin Kasulke’s novels explore the disembodiment of contemporary work culture as a grand coping mechanism, providing characters with a numbing, and even joyful, distraction from ongoing trauma.
The relationship between Cassandra and Judith, in Dorothy Baker’s 1962 novel, shows the ease with which siblings in general, and sisters in particular, continually create roles for each other—roles that are difficult to escape.
In Christine Smallwood’s new novel, an adjunct English professor reckons with the contingency of her career: what can she do with a love of literature that seems to be fading, with professional dreams that are turning out to be hollow? To answer these questions, Smallwood turns to karaoke.
If you have ever broken up with someone or been broken up with, you have likely experienced that unique quality of love: its archive. Laurie Colwin’s 1986 collection describes this lonely archive, its characters turning their love over in an occasion of happiness and sadness alike.