Critical Essays Archive

Unripe Fruit in Rural Poland

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Through it all, Wiola is a clear-eyed tour guide narrator, blasting the reader with the harsh reality of her bildungsroman while simultaneously giving a close-up view of the isolated world she was born into.

Bruno Schulz and a Mother’s Tough Love

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Like many things in my life, the writer Bruno Schulz is an example of how I used to focus on men. Men’s troubles, men’s heartache, men’s surprising capacity for emotion. The sight of a man crying would put me in a state.

What’s Left

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Handled well, what’s left out can illuminate a narrative, create a kind of translucence through which each scene, each character is given a kind of mysterious importance.

Humor, Candor, & Collision in Chen Chen’s When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
When I heard Chen read “Poplar Street” in a busy Washington, DC lunch spot, the whole farting bit elicited a variety of guffaws and cackles from his listeners. Their laughter sounded almost like barking. But Chen continued reading, and the rest of his couplet silenced the room.

On the Refreshing Awfulness of Elaine Dundy’s Protagonist in The Old Man and Me

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Having grown up feeling starved for complex female antiheroes in fiction, women I could actually fully relate to without having to overhaul my personality, morality, or entire appearance, the recent influx of interesting, complex female characters in popular culture has been revelatory.

Neil Gaiman’s “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories” Shouldn’t Work

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Neil Gaiman’s “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories” is a story that should not work. Gaiman states almost as much in the introduction to the collection, Smoke and Mirrors, that houses the story. It’s a story that meanders with almost no sense of plot. Yet, it works.

Who Gets Translated? George Seferis and the Luck of Translation

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
My first encounter with Seferis was through a bilingual edition of his work translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Until I read Seferis’s work, I hadn’t known Greek could be so beautiful, moving, and meaningful, even though I didn’t understand all of it at the time.

Why Culture Cops Are Bad for Writers of Color

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
The biggest fear of most professional writers I know is drawing the ire of the internet. This is especially true among writers of color I know. Our literary communities are no exception to the dark allures of destructive, righteous outrage.

Song for My Foe

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Hayes and Moss offer us a very different kind of engagement with literary forebears; their responses perhaps recognize how those forebears have unequivocally shaped contemporary poetry, but they also identify the canon as an imperfect, exclusionary artifice and insist that there is not a single literary tradition.

Innocent Mothers and Selfish Daughters

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
The daughters of Jenny Zhang’s debut story collection Sour Heart and Yiyun Li’s memoir in essays Dear Friend from My Life I Write to You in Your Life are formed from the hardest love: their mothers’.