Author Archive

A Family of Strangers in The Arsonists’ City

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Behind the straightforward family disagreement that underpins Hala Alyan’s new novel lies all the complications, subtleties, and dishonesties upon which families are founded, along with the fears, longings, and displacement more particular to immigrant households.

Othering and Empathy in Such a Fun Age

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Kiley Reid’s debut novel delicately and insightfully examines the naiveté and smugness exhibited by people who consider themselves allies yet only understand how to speak and behave as allies in times of clear and immediate strife—and who, even then, are only familiar with the performative aspects of the task.

The Act of Making a Home in Severance

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Ling Ma’s 2018 novel is a story about what it means to make a life when one has been removed—whether willingly or by force—from one’s familiar surroundings, and the faith and perseverance required in order to call a new place home.

Who Decides the Mysterious Standard of Beauty?

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Daniel Oz’s flash fable “Beauty Sleep” and Yonit Naaman’s prose poem “That’s What I Want” explore the challenge of overcoming the elusive, patriarchal standard of beauty.

Alice Sheldon’s Unveiling of Humanity

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In “The Girl Who Was Plugged In,” a futuristic society has found a loophole in a law forbidding commercial advertisements—the use of “gods,” young, beautiful, pre-programmed, and mechanically-engineered celebrities whose lives are a series of opportunities for product placement. In this world, where perfection has been manufactured, the flawed

How Two Young Black Poets Are Making Sense of the World

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The art of literacy may not be aggressive, but as Madison Petaway and Akilah Toney, two poets included in a recent New York Times feature, show, it can be assertive, assured, and bold.

Possession and Loss in Gone to the Forest

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The fictional, nameless nation in Katie Kitamura’s 2012 novel is a country of men obsessed with possession. They care to possess land, money, women. What use these things might be to them is hardly of any interest. The main thing is to own them, to overpower them, and only

Nature Prevails in Ruthie Fear

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Maxim Loskutoff’s new novel, out tomorrow, is an exploration of man’s complicated relationship with the highest form of authority—nature.

Untold Stories in Last Call on Decatur Street

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Iris Martin Cohen’s new novel is a reflection, a condemnation, and a compassionate call to action; it is the story of how we can start to open our eyes to see better and do better.

Black Boyhood, Black Fear

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When I first read Kiese Laymon’s “City Summer, Country Summer” essay, it seemed a sweet, nostalgic comparison of Black culture in New York City to Mississippi. On second read, however, I saw that what united the two boys within was more than their age or the color of their