Luster, A Lover’s Discourse, and the Portrayal of Whiteness

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The protagonists of recent novels by Raven Leilani and Xiaolu Guo dwell on a cross-racial gaze, othering the white men who are the objects of their physical affections. In this, they attempt to reverse the gazes of centuries by paying an anthropological attention to their partners’ bodies, speech, and

The Hare by Melanie Finn

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Finn gives us an important, comprehensive picture of the stages of a woman’s learning, suggesting that, over time, teachers will be rejected, new ones sought, and the student might herself become a teacher.

This Land Made You

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Melissa Faliveno’s 2020 essay collection’s genius, and tenderness, comes from a deep understanding of the language of home: the haunting, often unacknowledged pull place has on us, and how leaning towards and pushing against this pull shapes our identities.

Jack London’s Visionary 1912 Pandemic Novel

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London’s book is impressive not just for its correctly intuited factual predictions, but also for those related to the way the inequities of his world would only grow exponentially as its population did, and the way those inequities would define the events that took place during and after the

The Personal and The Ecological in Two Trees Make a Forest

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Jessica J. Lee’s 2019 book exists in the space between environmental history, cultural history, and memoir. While readers will get a sense of Lee’s exploration of personal identity by the end of the book, they will also gain a deeper understanding of the ties between history and the natural

How Home Lets Jericho Brown Bloom Poems About His Subconscious

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, Brown uses physical spaces, homes, to analyze, dissect, and bloom thoughts that are hidden in his subconscious—thoughts of the traumas and terrors of the world around him, which threatens Black and Brown bodies and endangers LGBQTIA+ peoples.

Homo Irrealis by André Aciman

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By daring to call forth the irrealis mood, to summon what we usually skitter around and stumble upon, Aciman sets the mood—incurring the awkwardness of doing so, and giving us the chance to realize something it might take a long time to understand.

The Revealing Cultural Portrayal of Oligarchy

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Scarlett Thomas’s most recent novel, out in the United States this week after initial publication in 2019 in the United Kingdom, is both absurdism and reality pared to its core, just as the girls in the novel pare themselves pound by pound at their no-name, British girls boarding school.

Flyover Country

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Michael Martone teaches the flown-over writer to treat the Midwestern setting with dignity and curiosity, allowing the landscape to help characters tell their stories.

Rereading Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution

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I’ve long found personal resonance in Adrienne Rich’s description of the struggle to be home with young children while also seeking to do intellectual and creative work. What I didn’t expect in rereading her 1976 classic was how uncannily similar her descriptions of the mid-century institution of motherhood would