Critical Essays Archive

Spear’s Exploration of the Power of Understanding

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Nicola Griffith’s new novel, which retells the story of Percival, portrays an act of resistance within the sphere of Arthurian mythology itself, a way to remake that space and liberate it for a larger and more inclusive community—and it is an act of resistance that moves beyond the pages

Let It Be Morning’s Portrayal of Impending Catastrophe

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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.

The Physical and the Emotional in God’s Children Are Little Broken Things

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The way that Arinze Ifeakandu chooses to depict a character’s world, seen through their eyes, also reflects their emotional landscape. It is a subtle and beautiful way to portray his characters, to allow us to truly understand how they feel.

We Were Strike and Instrument Both: Music and Queerness in Edinburgh

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Alexander Chee's first novel utilizes song as a discovery space for the body, giving insight into how the main character, Fee, understands his sexuality.

The Possibilities Born of Spinsterhood in The Blue Castle and Now, Voyager

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In both L.M. Montgomery’s 1926 novel and Irving Rapper’s 1942 film, self-knowledge is a powerful diagnostic tool that needs to be harnessed to decision making in order to affect lasting change. Both works subsequently insist on the validity of their heroines’ choices.

Betrayal in Rainbow Rainbow

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In their debut short story collection, Lydia Conklin examines what it’s like to inhabit a body and/or sexuality that is inherently uncomfortable—not because of one’s certainty about their identity but because of how others reject or suppress it.

What Is Social Media Doing to Us?

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Dave Eggers’ 2021 novel, through a demonstration of the real-life consequences of the proliferation of social media behaviors, paints a dire picture of the future, in which concern quickly becomes panic, and uninterrupted conversations are rare.

Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head’s Language of the Body

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Via the body, Warsan Shire wrenches us into sensuous and traumatic narratives that express hunger for love, rage at violation, the turmoil of illness, and an exquisite wish for restoration.

Asian American Inscrutability in Joan is Okay

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Like Weike Wang’s vision of fiction, in grief Joan discovers that inscrutability can be possibility itself.

Either/Or’s Aesthetic Questioning

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In Elif Batuman’s new novel, Selin is trying to figure out how to narrate love, how to make it make narrative sense; on the way, she figures out what love and novels have to do with each other.