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The House of the Seven Gables (05/22)
In We Do What We Do in the Dark by Michelle Hart, the main character, Mallory, visits the House of the Seven Gables, a historic landmark in the town of Salem, Massachusetts that inspired a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne. She does so following a conversation with a character known only as 'the woman,' with whom she had an affair years ...
Creative Writing MFA Programs (05/22)
The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a graduate-level degree earned by students who seek to pursue work as authors, editors, playwrights, or to teach at the college level. As of 2019, there were more than 200 Creative Writing MFA programs according to Poets & Writers' MFA Index, of which 158 were full-time residency and 64 low-...
True Crime (04/22)
Sarah Weinman's Scoundrel: How a Convicted Murderer Persuaded the Women Who Loved Him, the Conservative Establishment, and the Courts to Set Him Free sits squarely in one of today's hottest genres: true crime. Consumers of the genre may crave the rush that comes from real-life crime stories, especially ones that prove the cliché that...
Exophonic Authors (04/22)
Jhumpa Lahiri wrote her novel Whereabouts in Italian, a language she learned in adulthood, and later translated it into English. Many authors have at some time made the decision to become exophonic (to write in a language other than one's native tongue), whether for personal, artistic, practical or political reasons.

The author who is ...
Don Quixote: The First Modern Novel (03/22)
In Vladimir, Julia May Jonas's debut novel, Don Quixote is something of a minor motif. The protagonist and her husband—both English literature professors at a liberal arts college—are fans of the work and have even retraced the famous character's journey through Spain. Late in the novel, the protagonist's husband, who has been...
The Iliad (02/22)
In Call Me Cassandra by Marcial Gala, the main character is visited by the Greek goddess Athena and instructed to read a Cuban edition of the Iliad, the epic poem attributed to the ancient Greek poet Homer and maintained through centuries of oral tradition.

The poem focuses on certain events towards the end of the Trojan War, including...
The Brothers Karamazov (02/22)
The Family Chao by Lan Samantha Chang is a modern reimagining of the novel The Brothers Karamazov (1879) by Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881). The plot of Dostoevsky's book centers around a family of three brothers — Dmitri, Ivan and Alexei (aka Alyosha) — and the murder of their father, Fyodor Karamazov. As Dmitri ...
Contemporary Retellings of Classic Stories (02/22)
Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor is a feminist reimagining of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic American novel, The Great Gatsby (1925). Instead of retaining Nick Carraway as the narrator, Cantor retells the story from the viewpoints of the novel's women. Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker and Catherine McCoy were all secondary characters ...
Monstrously Powerful: Patriarchy and the Demonization of Women (01/22)
In a letter addressed to readers in The Gilded Ones, Namina Forna writes that the book is 'at its heart…an examination of patriarchy. How does it form? What supports it? How do women survive under it? And what about people who don't fall into the binary? Who thrives and who doesn't?' Deka and all the women of Otera live in a society...
How Short Can Stories Get? (01/22)
Hey, wait! Where are you going? This isn't going to be a long article. I promise!

In fact, it may well be as short as a piece of flash fiction, which sounds like a creation for the age of Twitter, but actually goes much further back. At least as far back as around 600 BCE when many of the tales attributed to Aesop are believed to have ...
Sleeping Beauty (Briar Rose) (12/21)
In A Million Things by Emily Spurr, 10-year-old Rae recalls her mother reading her the story of Briar Rose. Briar Rose, better known as Sleeping Beauty, is a popular fairy tale character. While many people may be familiar with recent versions of her story, including the 1959 animated Disney adaptation, the tale is centuries old and has ...
Death in Venice: Book vs. Film (12/21)
Which is better — the book or the film? That question is often debated when a much-loved book is turned into a movie. Death in Venice — the novella written by Thomas Mann and published in 1912 — is perhaps the author's best-known work, not least because it was made into a film by the great Italian director Luchino ...
What Is Autofiction? (11/21)
As a concept, autofiction can seem like an oxymoron. Short for autobiographical fiction, the term was coined in the 1970s by French writer Serge Dubrovsky, and it quickly became something of a buzzword in the publishing world. This blend of two seemingly disparate forms is best described as a fictionalized account of real-life events, ...
The Tempestuous History of Lady Chatterley's Lover (11/21)
During the 1920s, author D.H. Lawrence wrote several manuscript versions of his famous Lady Chatterley's Lover, as is reflected in Alison MacLeod's 2021 historical novel Tenderness. Lawrence's earlier novel The Rainbow had been banned for its exploration of human desire, including a lesbian affair, and his agent was hesitant to ...
Willa Cather and the American Outsider Experience (11/21)
Willa Chen, the main character in Kyle Lucia Wu's Win Me Something, mentions that her mother named her after the writer Willa Cather. This connection is significant in that Willa expects to be asked about her name in the context of her Chinese heritage, and is surprised when her employer's brother asks about the origin of her first name ...
Birchbark Books (11/21)
Tookie, the protagonist of The Sentence by Louise Erdrich, works in a Minneapolis bookstore called Birchbark Books, which is owned by Erdrich herself both in reality and this work of fiction. As is shown in the novel, where the author appears as a minor character, the store serves the local community and carries a wide selection of ...
Franz Kafka and "The Hunter Gracchus" (10/21)
In Joy Williams' Harrow, two characters discuss Franz Kafka's 'The Hunter Gracchus,' a short story written in 1917 and published posthumously in 1931, along with a document that was marked as a fragment, which appears to be an addendum to the story.

Franz Kafka was born into a well-to-do Jewish family on July 3, 1883 in Prague. He had ...
The Real-Life Work of Rabih Alameddine (10/21)
In The Wrong End of the Telescope, Rabih Alameddine creates a character that appears to be a stand-in for himself, described from the perspective of the novel's narrator, Mina. Mina paints the character as a friend of hers who has written essays about his experiences with refugees as well as fiction. The author's real-life work parallels ...
Matilda by Roald Dahl (09/21)
In The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson, main character June is attached to certain favorite childhood books, including the young adult novel Matilda by acclaimed and bestselling author Roald Dahl, also known for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG. Matilda won the Children's Book Award shortly after its publication in 1988 ...
Literary Dublin (09/21)
The backdrop of Sally Rooney's Beautiful World, Where Are You is the city of Dublin and its environs. Rooney herself lives in this UNESCO City of Literature, a metropolis that boasts a flourishing literary scene and an impressive inventory of influential authors, poets and playwrights. The streets of the vibrant capital are infused ...
Contemporary Ghanaian Women Writers (08/21)
In her novel His Only Wife, Peace Adzo Medie captures the clash of tradition and modernity in present day Ghana. Medie belongs to a long line of talented women writers who show the country's rich culture and history to be bountiful sources of inspiration. Here are just a few of the most exciting Ghanaian women on the current literary ...
Griots and a New Direction for Fantasy (08/21)
In Jordan Ifueko's fantasy debut Raybearer, Mbali, one of the Emperor's Council of Eleven, is identified as a griot – 'a singer of histories and stories, the most sacred of Arit priests.' Griots are not a literary invention, but an incorporation of Ifueko's Nigerian heritage into her fantasyscape, along with tutsu sprites and ...
Gerard Manley Hopkins (08/21)
In Yaa Gyasi's Transcendent Kingdom, Gifty, a PhD student of neuroscience, recalls a college course she took to fulfill a humanities requirement that focused on the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. While Gifty didn't care for Hopkins' poetry, she felt a 'strange sense of kinship' with the man himself when she reflected on the struggles he...
Janeites: Austen Fans Past and Present (08/21)
According to literary scholar Claudia L. Johnson, 'Janeism' is a 'self-consciously idolatrous enthusiasm for 'Jane' Austen and every primary, secondary, tertiary (and so forth) detail relative to her.' The devotees who share this enthusiasm, also known as 'Janeites,' are in the simplest sense fans of Jane Austen and her writings. Today, ...
The Legacy of Mary Wollstonecraft (07/21)
Although the word 'feminist' did not enter popular political discourse until over a century after her death, the published works of Mary Wollstonecraft show her to be one of the world's pioneering feminist writers. As Love and Fury explores in some detail, the events of Wollstonecraft's life were crucial in cementing her ideologies and ...
Graham Greene's The Quiet American (06/21)
The Quite Americans by Scott Anderson takes its name and inspiration from a highly popular 1955 spy novel by Graham Greene called The Quiet American.

Henry Graham Greene (1904-1991) was an English novelist, short story writer, journalist and playwright whose writing often focused on moral ambiguities set within political contexts. ...
Anne Hathaway and Hamnet Shakespeare (06/21)
Little is known about Shakespeare's family, names and birth dates aside — and even names are tricky. Though commonly referred to as Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife may have actually been named Agnes, according to a will left by her father. O'Farrell makes the decision to use the name Agnes in her novel Hamnet, but she references ...
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) (05/21)
A number of real historical figures play tangential roles in The Paris Hours, which is set in Paris in 1927. One of these is Gertrude Stein, a writer known for her poetry and the quasi-fictional memoir she penned about her life in Paris with her longtime partner, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933). But Stein may be even better ...
Growing Support for Translated Literature (05/21)
In 2007, the University of Rochester launched Three Percent, an online database that aimed to strengthen support for translated literature within the US market, supplementing the work of their translation press, Open Letter — publisher of Elisa Dusapin's Winter in Sokcho. The project was a response to reports at the time that a mere...
Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (04/21)
In the short story 'With the Beatles' from his collection First Person Singular, Haruki Murakami refers to the writer Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. Akutagawa was born in 1892 in Tokyo's Kyōbashi district. His mother was mentally ill, and his father was unable to take care of him, so he was sent to live with an uncle. Often sickly as a ...
Nature Writers Who Also Write Fiction (04/21)
Before she wrote Where the Crawdads Sing, Idaho-based Delia Owens co-authored three nature books (with her former husband, Mark Owens) based on wildlife research in Africa: Cry of the Kalahari (1984), which won the John Burroughs Medal for natural history writing, The Eye of the Elephant (1992), and Secrets of the Savanna (2006). She's ...
Q&A with Jackie Polzin (03/21)
Jackie Polzin talks about her debut novel, Brood, and how her own experience caring for chickens contributed to it.

First of all, why chickens?

When I was 30, my partner and I got chickens. They were my first pets since childhood. I compensated by giving them a lot of attention, and that attention inspired the book. I knew I could ...
Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (02/21)
In My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, a much-older teacher begins his seduction of 15-year-old Vanessa Wye with poetry. One of the works he uses to draw her in is the 1962 Vladimir Nabokov novel Pale Fire. Specifically, a section of verse describes how a fictional poet, John Shade, met his wife on an outing to New Wye Falls. ...
The Disappearance of Agatha Christie (02/21)
In Kate Weinberg's The Truants, the main character, Jess Walker, suggests to her professor, Lorna Clay, that famed author Agatha Christie's 'hardest to crack' mystery may have emerged not in her writing, but in her life. Jess is referring to the time that Christie disappeared for 11 days, later claiming to have suffered memory loss, an ...
A Selection of Writing by Robert Jones Jr. (01/21)
The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. is a work of historical fiction that follows the relationship between Isaiah and Samuel, two enslaved men in love on a plantation in the Antebellum South. While the book is Jones' debut novel, he is an established essayist, blogger and cultural critic. Below are a few notable examples of his published work...
Fireborne: Rosaria Munda's Influences (01/21)
Fireborne, the first book in The Aurelian Cycle trilogy, features a society that is restructuring after a political revolution, in which a select few citizens become dragon-riding warriors that protect the nation. This is the debut novel for author Rosaria Munda, who first conceived of the idea while listening to an audiobook about the ...
Bernardine Evaristo's Booker Prize Win (12/20)
In October of 2019, Bernardine Evaristo took home the Booker Prize in a win that garnered special attention for multiple reasons. Specifically, Evaristo was the first Black woman to win the prize, and she didn't have the win all to herself; the judges split it between Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other and Margaret Atwood for The Testaments....
A Brief History of A Christmas Carol and its Adaptations (11/20)
A Christmas Carol, the first and best known of Charles Dickens' five Christmas Books, was published on December 19th, 1843. On publication, it was considered a critical and commercial success and served to bolster Dickens' reputation among his peers and the public at a time of creative and financial uncertainty.

The book drew on the ...
Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, and the Writing of Frankenstein (11/20)
Great art frequently evolves among talented people who share ideas with each other and who challenge themselves to greater and greater heights in the presence of fellow creatives. This was the case with one of the most famous works of Western literature, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Devised among her literary companions (including Lord ...
Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) (11/20)
Born in 1940 in Leningrad, Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky, known to English speakers as Joseph Brodsky, was a Russian-American poet and Nobel Prize laureate, whose works and life feature heavily in Lara Vapnyar's novel Divide Me By Zero.

Brodsky was raised in poverty; his father had lost his position with the Russian Navy for being ...
Henry Darger (10/20)
In Curious Toys, the main character, Pin, investigates the murder of a young girl in the Riverview Amusement Park in Chicago in 1915. Only one other person witnessed the girl's disappearance, a strange, shambling man named Henry Darger. Pin is fictional, but Darger is based on a real person who became famous posthumously as an artist and ...
The Impact of The Handmaid's Tale (09/20)
Margaret Eleanor Atwood was born in Ottawa in 1939. Although best known for her speculative fiction, she's the author of more than 40 books, including works of fiction, poetry, short stories, children's works and critical essays.

Atwood's desire to be a writer stems from a revelation she had at the age of 16. As she was walking across ...
Ann Cleeves' Five Mystery Series (08/20)
Ann Cleeves (b. 1954) is best known for her mystery novels set in rural Britain, which have sold over five million copies in the thirty-plus years she's been writing. Cleeves has penned four series before releasing The Long Call, the first entry in her new Two Rivers series:

George and Molly Palmer-Jones (8 books)
Published from 1986 ...
Reading the #MeToo Movement (05/20)
A large part of the later chapters of Susan Choi's Trust Exercise revolves around the publishing of a female narrative of past sexual assault, forcing other characters in the story to reckon with their own complicity in the event (or lack thereof). The empowerment of survivors telling of their own stories is a concept that today's public ...
The Corruption of Home in Gothic Literature (04/20)
Marina Kemp's Marguerite operates on several thematic levels; not least as an homage to classics of gothic literature. Like Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, and Henry James's The Turn of the Screw before it, the novel opens with a young woman arriving at a large, secluded country house, before documenting ...
The Life and Career of Yūko Tsushima (04/20)
Born in 1947 in the Tokyo suburb of Mitaka, Yūko Tsushima was one of the most accomplished Japanese novelists of her generation at the time of her death from lung cancer in 2016. The author remains lesser known outside of Japan, but with the recent translations of Territory of Light and Of Dogs and Walls, there has been a small wave ...
20 Years of Speak (03/20)
Released in 1999, Speak was Laurie Halse Anderson's first novel and also her most controversial. Melinda Sordino, the protagonist, is raped the summer before her freshman year of high school at a house party. She calls the police but is unable to verbalize what happened, leaving the scene before they arrive. The police bust the house ...
An Interview with JP Gritton (11/19)
I took some time to ask the author about his background, and the origins and themes of his unique and tightly-crafted debut novel, Wyoming.

Q: Could you tell me a little about yourself? Where are you from originally, where are you now, and how did you come to write this novel?

I was born in Boulder, Colorado, which was a funky,...
Simone de Beauvoir (10/19)
Lucy Adler, the teenage protagonist in The Falconer, is influenced by her older cousin, Violet, a painter and feminist who provides a model of independent womanhood (albeit an imperfect one). In one scene, Violet takes Lucy to a bookstore and buys her copies of French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir's seminal texts, The Ethics of ...
Roland Barthes and "The Death of the Author" (10/19)
In DeWitt's story 'Famous Last Words,' two characters argue over the interpretation of an essay by Roland Barthes called 'The Death of the Author,' and whether its message is still relevant for writers.

Roland Barthes was a French philosopher and literary critic. He was born in 1915 in Cherbourg, France and attended the Sorbonne where ...
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