Critical Essays Archive
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?
All the attention critics give to Anita Brookner’s unmarried heroines obscures what’s truly subversive in her 1984 Brooker Prize-winning novel. It isn’t just that Brookner’s protagonist charts a different course, maritally speaking; it’s that the novel’s dramatic focus is women looking critically at other women.
When a defense attorney asked Donald Williams II, a Black man and witness to the lynching of George Floyd, if he got “angrier and angrier,” Williams responded, “I grew professional and professional.” Such racial performance and linguistic inventiveness are on display in poems by Douglas Kearney and Yusef Komunyakaa.
When I started reading Yuri Herrera’s 2013 novel, I wasn’t trying to read another pandemic book. The pandemic has fatigued me more and more lately. The isolation, the death counts sent to my phone every morning, the anxiety of unwittingly spreading the virus in the grocery store and killing
Over the course of Maria Kuznetsova’s second novel, out next week, we switch back and forth between the perspectives of a woman and her grandmother. In the process, we begin to understand how tightly the two women are connected, even as the lives they live are vastly different, and
Las Vegas is a feat of tremendous sleight of hand. What Diofebi shows in his debut novel, out this week, is all the thousands of machinations happening in the background, producing what is ultimately a glorious illusion.
Even to an erudite mage like Shakespeare’s Prospero, Miranda’s mind is mysterious and powerful, her memory evocative of her individual, autonomous character. He’s done his best to teach her, despite the circumstances, but no teacher can say with certainty what a student will remember and what will be forgotten.
In Helen Oyeyemi’s new novel, time’s tricky manifestations in the material world point toward ambiguity itself as a poetics of unknowing and unseeing.
In filling his 2017 novel with similarities to Kurt Vonnegut’s 1987 work, Percival Everett initiates a dialogue on abstract art.
“When John le Carré died in December, I was drawn to revisit his 1974 espionage masterpiece. Its plotting was just as crystalline as I’d remembered, yet its enduring power didn’t lie, I realized, in its structure or entertainment value, but in the lucidity of its politics and moral investments.”