Critical Essays Archive

Berg, The Weird, and The Eerie

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Ann Quin’s debut novel takes aim at the difficulties of daily life, bringing to light our lack of control and the need for introspection when faced with even the simplest of questions.

Modern Day Ghost Stories

In contemporary memoir, like works by Kiese Laymon and Jesmyn Ward, the ghosts that haunt the narrators are past selves, dead loved ones, or other traumas that manifest in these writers’ lives.

The Moral Universe in Ninety-Nine Stories of God

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Fiction writer and essayist Joy Williams wears sunglasses all the time—a fact that might be a walking metaphor. In Williams’ world, it seems, God is also wearing a pair of mirrored sunglasses, and after we tire of making funny faces at ourselves in His lenses, we start to panic.

Reading Carmen Maria Machado’s Update on Carmilla

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
In this new edition, Machado has taken on the duty of an antique frame restorer. The resulting work is a hybrid form, a beautiful and terrible monster that shifts whenever you look at it, back and forth between history and fantasy, repression and liberation, horror and desire.

The Sound of Trauma

Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s third novel is a story about how trauma flashes, like lightning, but then crashes and reverberates throughout one’s life more slowly, like thunder.

Fiction of the Shopping Mall

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
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.

The Dark Side of the Wild

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
How does the idea of the “wild” manifest itself in the lives, and ways of living, that contemporary America remains both fascinated by and deeply ambivalent about?

Silence and Memory in Everything Is Illuminated

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
By revolving the story around Augustine’s silent photograph, Foer draws on the elegiac nature inherent in photography while examining the limitations of representation.

Tracing Ancestry in The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Throughout his life, the kitchen was the place where truth always found Michael Twitty. It was where he first came out to his mother. Where he first felt kinship toward Jewish tradition. And where he decided to delve as deeply as possible into the culinary history of his ancestors.

Memory and Documentation in The Barefoot Woman and “Khol Do”

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Two works explore violence against women in the midst of the Rwandan genocide and the Partition of India.