Critical Essays Archive
If still life is a background of lustrous dark space against which shines life, Mark Doty uses this composition to show how memory illuminates certain people and objects while allowing others to recede.
In her 2018 novel, Miriam Toews uses parentheticals to great effect—exploring and undermining ideas about objective narration, and reflecting on power in narration, who gets to narrate particular stories, and how the person who appears to have power in a particular story may not have power at all.
What evolved from an unfinished novel manuscript, through a decades-long struggle with the legacy of Richard Wright, Henry James, and the white Lost Generation, are Baldwin’s 1956 and 1962 books as well as one of his most enduring insights into the struggle to end America’s innocence.
What if Emily Brontë’s achievement in her only novel is really its dramatic correlation to her own passage from child actor to adult novelist, serving as a natural extension of her language play, and espousing play as necessary work?
The tension between the self and the marketplace is the kindle in Cynthia Dewi Oka’s poetry collection. The book draws much of its power from domestic scenes set against an apocalyptic background; here, social mobility is not merely an aspiration, but a search for safety through a series of
In the late Izumi Suzuki’s English language debut, readers are dropped into worlds in which characters have acclimated to the advanced technologies available to them; as a result, we get a deep exploration into how technological innovations have impacted—or not—human interaction.
With its emphasis on seeking freedom, promoting justice, and restoring individual dignity, the testimonio form has proved to be a powerful decolonial literary tool. Aruni Kashyap uses testimonio in his poetry to tell silenced tales of state repression in Assam as an act of political resistance.
Eve L. Ewing fills her poems with bodies and voices. This interplay between rhythm and language becomes a means by which the marginalized speak; kinetic orality is a response to the recurring nature of systemic racism in that it thrives on both repetition and improvisation.
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?
Sigrid Nunez’s memoir of the author’s relationship with Susan Sontag, the writer and doyenne of the twentieth-century New York intelligentsia, plays with the concept of the memoir genre. Nunez largely disappears from her own pages as she explains, through vignettes and remembered lines, Sontag’s mentorship.