Critical Essays Archive
Scarlett Thomas’s most recent novel, out in the United States this week after initial publication in 2019 in the United Kingdom, is both absurdism and reality pared to its core, just as the girls in the novel pare themselves pound by pound at their no-name, British girls boarding school.
Michael Martone teaches the flown-over writer to treat the Midwestern setting with dignity and curiosity, allowing the landscape to help characters tell their stories.
I’ve long found personal resonance in Adrienne Rich’s description of the struggle to be home with young children while also seeking to do intellectual and creative work. What I didn’t expect in rereading her 1976 classic was how uncannily similar her descriptions of the mid-century institution of motherhood would
Reading recent poetry collections by Solmaz Sharif and Aria Aber in concert, we see that Sharif’s serves as a project that inscribes the militarization of everyday language and its consequent normalization of violence—groundwork that allows for a radical project like Aber’s to exist.
While some critics dismiss fractals as faddish or overly applied, they do offer a compelling vision of a natural world governed by order, pattern, and predictable expansion. And envisioning the world as an organized and predictable place feels mighty tempting.
Ayad Akhtar poses a challenge to liberal consensus not by denying the existence of America’s foundational inequalities along lines of race, class, and gender, but by questioning whether the liberal project of advancement through representation is capable of catalyzing the structural changes necessary to address them.
Susan Minot’s story “Boston Common at Twilight” shares its title with a Childe Hassam painting. Although the former does not directly mention the latter, there are many ways that the works are linked, and seeing these connections underscores the themes that run through the story and allows the viewer
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.
While there is much to improve in how we support each other at home and across the globe, Smith’s 1963 novel, which documents the 1961 police massacre of Algerian protestors in Paris, reminds us of the immense power in solidarity and our duty to rise up for justice and
In trying to understand immunity as concept and metaphor, Eula Biss’s 2014 book reveals the profound ethical dilemma that has always inscribed itself into the vaccination debate, which, at root, is about the relationship between self and other, between individual bodies and the social body.