Author Archive

Edge Case’s Exploration of Our “True” Nature

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YZ Chin’s debut novel, which includes tales of past lives and accounts for the apparently radical transformations of both the narrator and her husband, suggests that our nature is neither fixed nor fathomable.

Late Summer’s Exploration of the Past

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From the beginning to the end of the novel, Luiz Ruffato gives us a moment-by-moment account of his protagonist’s activities, thoughts, and feelings—a stream-of-consciousness narrative in which, as the novel progresses, the character’s memories of the past become more and more prominent.

Authorship and Betrayal in To Write As If Already Dead

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Given its fragmented structure, intertextuality, quotations from and reflections on correspondences, and inclusion of the narrative of a pregnancy, Kate Zambreno’s newest book feels like a “library of the mind,” encompassing texts on reading, writing, authorship, friendship, betrayal, the body, birth, and death.

States of Refusal in How to Do Nothing and Housekeeping

“Fourteen years ago I left my job at a publicly traded company and began life as a freelancer. In all these years I have been trying to get to what Jenny Odell calls the ‘third space,’ an arena of both participation in and resistance to society.”

Seeing Jenny in Why Didn’t You Just Do What You Were Told?

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The pleasure of reading Jenny Diski’s essays is in spending time with her persona—opinionated, funny, and endlessly curious. How can there be an end in wanting to know about Diski, her subjects, or any other example of what it is to be a human in this world?

The Dangerous Age’s Repudiation of the Marriage Plot

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Women are often confined in stories to “erotic narratives” that generally lead to the altar; menopause marks the end of the tale. This plight for a woman in mid-life is evident in the enactment and repudiation of the marriage plot in Karin Michaëlis’s 1910 novel.

In the Company of Men’s Long View of History

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To take the long view of history is to find company with our ancestors. In Véronique Tadjo’s 2017 novel, available today in English, it is “Baobab, the first tree, the everlasting tree, the totem tree” that sees humanity from this perspective.

Remembering the Future

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Since reading Natalia Ginzburg’s 1963 novel last year, I have wanted to identify and investigate my own family lexicon, the basis of our unity in the pressure of our semi-quarantine in a two-bedroom Brooklyn apartment with no yard and not much of a view.

Emptiness and Red Pill

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Discovering emptiness within himself while far from home, the unnamed narrator of Hari Kunzru’s latest novel falls under the influence of a champion of the alt-right and awakens—it seems—to a brutal reality. But this understanding of reality, too, turns out to be partial, provisional.

Good Morning, Midnight and the Failure of Our Daily “Programs”

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Reading Jean Rhys’s 1939 novel, I soon landed on the lazy word unlikeable to describe its protagonist. The moment the word arose in my mind, I was suspicious, but I found Sasha’s inability to make a place for herself in the world, even on the margins, exasperating.