To Tip the Balance

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The scope of grief is unimaginable. So is the scope of joy. Our first task is to pay attention, but Annie Dillard reminds us it doesn’t end there: our work is also to try to tip the balance.

Crossing Boundaries in Whereabouts

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Jhumpa Lahiri’s new novel beautifully showcases the way we experience life: the moments that are most important—the turning points—are often only realized in retrospect.

“A lot of the novel is about stories—the ones we tell ourselves about ourselves, the ones we don’t know but that shape us in some way”: An Interview with Gabriela Garcia

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Gabriela Garcia’s non-chronological debut novel, built on glimpses of memory and history, digs into issues of cultural identity, social and political unrest, and the complexities of lives informed by migration, oppression, and racial inequality.

The Maternal Gothic in The Push and Beloved

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Ashley Audrain and Toni Morrison use the maternal gothic form, which dwells on the threats posed both to and by children and mothers, upending idyllic, peaceful visions of maternal life, to explore how mothers are devalued and isolated by white, patriarchal power structures.

Hope in the Apocalypse

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Octavia Butler and Yoko Tawada balance the pain of life in a post-apocalyptic future with stories of human resilience, offering readers some spark of hope in a future that seems hopeless.

Seeing Jenny in Why Didn’t You Just Do What You Were Told?

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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?

Curb’s Exploration of American Othering

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Divya Victor’s new collection is a moving critique of the South Asian immigrant experience within post 9/11 America.

The Subversive Gyneceum of Hotel du Lac

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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.

The Labor of Being Black

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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.

Reading The Transmigration of Bodies

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