“People are messy. What does it even mean to be likable?”: An Interview with Kristen Arnett

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Much of Kristen Arnett’s second novel is about how we craft our stories to fit our needs, especially when we feel trapped, or frightened.

The Heartbreak of Bewilderness

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Karen Tucker’s new novel vividly captures the opioid epidemic that has exploded across the nation, while reinforcing the humanity of people with substance use disorder and demonstrating how wrong blaming individuals for their illness is. In the end, blame will not save you from a broken heart.

The Embodied Narrator in How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America

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Clint Smith’s new book is an examination of memory through an examination of sites that represent our country’s collective memory of slavery. He makes an important and effective call for us to examine how we remember our past, and how central our historical memory is to our existence today.

Skewering Workplace Racism in The Other Black Girl

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The driving pulse of Zakiya Harris’s debut novel is a sharp critique of the publishing industry’s lack of diversity.

“I see fiction as restoring to the world some of its actual complexity”: An Interview with Gish Jen

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Like all of Gish Jen’s work, her most recent book is many things: a baseball novel, a bildungsroman, a protest novel. At the center are her characters—complicated, flawed, and likeable. We root for them all.

Language and the Experience of Desire

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A few summers ago, I found myself tongue-tied on a first date. When I’m in London, flirting tastes like the first day of Spring: it imbues the air with possibility, and teases out a linguistic recklessness in me. In Dutch, I seemed to inhabit a less sensuous version of

We Wish You Luck’s Writerly Campus Novel

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There is something thrilling about a campus novel, the way its borders close around a defined perimeter and an alluring clique. Caroline Zancan’s entry to the genre, set at a premier low-residency MFA program, pushes the campus novel into such an academic, writerly realm that it takes on the

The Chorus of There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love: Letters from a Crisis

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The new anthology, edited by Tracy K. Smith and John Freeman, documents last summer’s period of quarantine and protest, bewilderment and commitment. Over the pages, the resonances build like voices gathered in a street singing justice songs.

The Perforation of Language in The Perforated Map

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Eléna Rivera's 2011 collection fuses the relationship between maps and language—a paper map is a metaphor for language itself, and can be pierced. To puncture a sentence or an entire poem means reaching through language’s strictures and expectations into what’s on the other side, and accessing language’s limits.

The Power of the Cuban Peoples’s Verses

José Martí, Margarita Engle, and the San Isidro Movement have contributed, over the course of a century, to the long tradition of writing about a free Cuba through poetics. The government knows the revolutionary history and power of artists and poets in Cuba, and they fear it.