Critical Essays Archive
Louise Erdrich’s new novel is a persistent implicit commentary on the importance of words—and the communities forged by words—in the face of the traumas that haunt individual and collective lives.
We already know that consumer goods are not the stuff of human happiness. And yet, stories by Carmen Maria Machado, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, and Aimee Bender underline this reality while also rendering it more complex, interrogating the ways in which we can and cannot resist capitalism and its cruelties.
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.
Helplessness or bewilderment is common to many of the characters in Chung’s stories; they are like characters caught in a bad dream from which there is no waking, and in which the interdependence of living things is experienced as horror.
Yu Miri directly tackles homelessness in Japan in her 2014 novel, focusing on the memories and reflections of the ghost of a homeless migrant manual laborer, Kazu, as he wanders through the titular park, which had been his home.
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.
It is not simply that wealth makes escape from pandemic at least (somewhat) possible. It is Poe and Flannagan's understanding of the structural nature of the violent intersection of class privilege and disease.
In Erín Moure’s 2012 collection, she spreads the ashes of her mother, who was subject to the abject violence that took place during World War II, in a village near the Davydivka River in what is now present-day Ukraine. The word “tragedy” feels inadequate to describe these experiences.
In her exploration of the Chernobyl disaster, Svetlana Alexievich dramatizes history—as she insists, we can only understand events of this magnitude by recasting them on a human scale.
As a translator, I am often asked about contemporary Palestinian literature, and find myself, a liberal Jew from Israel currently living in the US, at an embarrassing loss. Recently, I found my foray into contemporary Palestinian writing.