No matter how we try to hide mortality—or hide from it—the temporary nature of all that we have finds ways of invading our consciousness, like a corpse that grows putrid as the days go by, forcing us to acknowledge and deal with its presence.
Watching her daughter struggle through the emotions, excitements, and inequities of childhood seems to bring to mind Liv Ullmann’s own painful childhood, punctuated by her father’s untimely death and his family’s disownment of herself and her mother.
Sarah Shilo’s 2005 novel explores the repercussions of trauma without support, tragedy without aid.
In Michelle Zauner’s 2021 memoir and Russell Banks’s 1991 novel, unfathomable loss catapults people into unknown realms of pain and lonesomeness—but with time, trauma also leads them back to selves they had always contained but almost forgotten.
In Sayed Kashua’s 2004 novel, when injustice drips in bit by bit, it is easy to adapt—though with every such adaptation, reality shifts until finally it is irrevocably transformed.
In Shifra Cornfeld’s “Aloha Cars” and Paul Bowles’s “A Distant Episode,” colonial fascination with a place and a culture leads each story’s protagonist to objectify and underestimate a place’s people, ultimately driving the protagonist to a downfall of their own making.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 memoir explores a restlessness she spends her sojourn contending with. It is a restlessness brought on by a rift that has formed between her mind and her body, a restlessness shared by all of us who were raised on the lap of the Protestant work ethic.
We are often blind to the disparity between the behavior we instruct and the behavior we model for our children. But even more nuanced are the differences between the behaviors we try to emphasize—our aspirational behaviors—and the ones we try to downplay, which are often even more prominent.
Nigel Slater demonstrates an original and expert use of food in his 2011 memoir, as a sort of spyglass through which to investigate his own life, and as a thread with which to weave a tapestry full of deep unexplored emotions and intense memories.
Ilana Bernstein’s 2018 novel is a portrait of a motherhood so demanding and a depression so immersive that it becomes impossible to tell which came first. Throughout the book, the symptoms of the narrator’s different conditions, including being a mother, become indistinguishable from one another, her emotions bleeding into