Fiction

RECENT REVIEWS

Antoine Volodine’s Post-Exoticism

Antoine Volodine’s Post-Exoticism

“WHY SUCH A FRENZY?” This question is asked by “the Blotno,” a celebrity journalist and police collaborator who stalks the margins of Antoine Volodine’s newly translated novel Post-Exoticism...

Secure Your Own Mask Before Helping Others

Secure Your Own Mask Before Helping Others

THE TITLE OF Neil Gaiman’s third collection comes from the growing practice of labeling blog posts with content some readers might find upsetting. A survivor of abuse, for example, might have a very...

Will the Real Harun Please Stand Up?

Will the Real Harun Please Stand Up?

SINCE ITS PUBLICATION in 1942 there has been an extraordinary amount of discussion about the philosophical and political content of Albert Camus’s novel, The Stranger. In the ’60s and ’70s the b...

Insolence, Exile, and the Kingdom

Insolence, Exile, and the Kingdom

IN FRENCH LITERARY CONTESTS like American sport races, those who run a close second are sometimes the real victors — especially when they are the underdog. This was certainly the case last year when...

Creativity and Recovery

Creativity and Recovery

JILL KELLY is the author of several books including the memoir Sober Truths: The Making of an Honest Woman, a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and three novels, The Color of Longing (Three Cats Pub...

Horror Stories Are Love Stories

Horror Stories Are Love Stories

I’m still not sure exactly who I should thank for alerting me to Kelly Link’s story collection Stranger Things Happen, but I do remember when it came my way. I was at university, a time when books...

Childhood Revisionism

Childhood Revisionism

WHAT HAPPENS when your childhood memories don’t match your family’s official narrative? So much of what we know about our earliest days is not the function of our own recollections, but the harves...

War of the Imagination

War of the Imagination

WRITING IN 2006 for The New York Review of Books, Mark Danner separates what he calls the “Real Iraq War” — the ousting of Saddam Hussein’s regime and its lengthy aftermath — and the “War...

The Memories of Elephants

The Memories of Elephants

IN THE 1940s, my grandmother moved to a tea estate in Thenmala (literally “honey hill”), in India’s Western Ghats, as a doctor’s bride. The lives of people in the Western Ghats, a hill range ...

Yet Another Genre for Jane Smiley

Yet Another Genre for Jane Smiley

IMAGINE, FOR A MOMENT, that you’re Jane Smiley. You’ve got a BA in literature from Vassar, and an MA, an MFA, and a PhD from the University of Iowa (home of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, famously ...

Unrealized Constraints in Love and in Literature

Unrealized Constraints in Love and in Literature

VIVEK SHRAYA’S SLIM and eminently readable novel She of the Mountains has the distinct air of a roman à clef. He tells his tale in a point-counterpoint style, interweaving energetic and engaging pa...

Seeing Like an Exile

Seeing Like an Exile

IN “REFLECTIONS ON EXILE” (1984), Edward Said described exile as a rift between the self and its true home, an essential sadness that can never be surmounted. Fifteen years later, Ann Cheng propos...

A Short Story Can Ruin Your Life

A Short Story Can Ruin Your Life

CHARLES BAXTER’S new story collection There’s Something I Want You to Do contains an epigraph, taken from Primo Levi: It is common knowledge that nobody is born with a decalogue already formed, ...