Literary Fiction

Africa “Without Amnesia”

Responses to the idea of a “post-racial” society usually follow a certain script. In most progressive circles in the US, the notion is dismissed as fantasy or delusion. In southern Africa, and ...

Surrogacy Stories

Midway through Mike Birbiglia’s latest one-man show, The New One, the ceiling above the stage opens and various baby paraphernalia cascade onto the stage floor. An oversized stuffed bear, a breast ...

Killing Joke

Some things you fall for a little too fast and a little too hard. Not that long ago, a novelist friend urged this novel on me, the way your novelist friends are wont to do. “You’ll like it,” he said ...

Millennials in Beattieland

No word haunts discussions of Ann Beattie like the word generation. Once upon a time, back when novelists still had the luxury of holding their publicity at a ...

Sinkholes and Saviors

Few writers would dare to pick as the title of a collection of 11 short stories the name of a state that is home to 21 million people, more than a million alligators, countless snakes, and a few ...

Knausgaard’s Ruthless Freedom

So here it is at last: the end of Knausgaard’s struggle. It is 1,160 pages long, divided into three parts. Part 2 consists of a long essay on Hitler. Both ...

Who Is Sick and Who Is Well?

I might be tempted to describe Terese Mailhot’s new memoir, Heart Berries, as “raw,” had she not warned against it. “The danger politically or artistically is that ...

Birth of a Mother

What exactly is motherhood? I’ve been mulling it over the past few months, during which time I again experienced pregnancy and childbirth, and again dealt with the confusion and sleep deprivation ...

Purgatory Is for Real

If heaven, as the Talking Heads lyric puts it, is a place where nothing ever happens, it has nevertheless powered numerous books up American best-seller lists. In the past decade, several titles have ...

Ondaatje’s Long War

In a scathing review of The English Patient, Hilary Mantel called Michael Ondaatje’s most feted work “uneven, unresolved, unsatisfactory.” Her criticism has since become a regular complaint about the ...

Brexit or Utopia?

Ali Smith’s Autumn, the first installment of a four-volume “seasonal quartet” that now continues with Winter, was hailed on its release as “the first great Brexit novel.” As any reader of the book knows, there ...