fiction

New Fiction: Florence the Forgotten

Maggie Hennefeld

This day and age, you only count as an undead being if you are fleshy enough to fall in love: anatomically correct vampires, Oedipal demons, baying werewolves who turn out to be your soulmate, and even coming-of-age witches. If there is no corporeal lust involved then you might as well have stayed dead for good. But my name is Florence and even though I am a specter without a body, I still think that my story deserves to be told all the same. 

Getting Lost in the World of Edwidge Danticat

Kaitlyn Fajilan

In August, renowned Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat released her latest novel, Claire of the Sea Light, after a nearly decade long hiatus. Told through the eyes of several residents of a fictional seaside town called Ville Rose, the story jumps back and forth between the years 1999 and 2009, right before the chaos of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. In it, Danticat offers a multiplicity of voices that interweave with one another to construct a tale about community and the bonds that hold in the midst of political corruption, environmental degradation, poverty, and death. 

Auster-Coetzee Letters Shed Light on Literary Friendship

Lee Polevoi

Here and Now is a collection of letters between the Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee and the American novelist Paul Auster. The correspondence began in 2008 when Coetzee, author of the Booker-prizewinning masterpiece, Disgrace, sent a letter to Auster, author of The New York Trilogy, suggesting that an exchange of letters “might be fun, and we might even, God willing, strike sparks off each other.”

Fiction: De Gaulle and I

Tara Taghizadeh

In the picture I have of my grandfather, he is standing next to General de Gaulle. You can’t see his face, though. What you see is the General in the midst of a crowd, and beside him is a man wearing a bowler hat with his back to the camera. The owner of that hat was my grandfather – according to him, anyway. “General de Gaulle is dead. France is a widow,” he’d say, shaking his head this way and that. Actually, President Pompidou said it on the radio, on a day as cold as hell when crows gathered on skinny branches covered in snow.

Family Secrets Emerge from Iconic Photograph in Marisa Silver’s ‘Mary Coin’

Lee Polevoi

In her new novel, Marisa Silver richly re-imagines the subject of this photograph as Mary Coin, struggling to keep her ever-growing family alive. The photographer who captures the melancholy image is a polio-stricken artist named Vera Dare. Silver tells their stories both before they cross paths in California’s Imperial Valley and as they diverge in the years thereafter. For different reasons, the well-known photograph haunts their lives: 

Literary Flashback: Reading ‘Super Sad True Love Story’

Kimberly Tolleson

Proving that a dystopia can still be a fun read, Gary Shteyngart’s novel Super Sad True Love Story is set in the not-too-distant future of New York City, providing many parallels that hit disturbingly close to home. Our hero Lenny Abramov, a nerdy and overzealous 39-year-old, is a relic of the recent past: He loves reading bound books; his body, nose and hairline are not perfect; but most of all, he is striving for some authentic human connection in a world of self-absorption. 

Two Months Later, the Pulitzer Prize Rebuff Still Speaks Volumes

Veronica Giannotta

For the first time in 35 years and the 11th time in history, this year’s Pulitzer Prize deliberately overlooked all three fiction nominees.  Karen Russell’s Swamplandia!, David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, and Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams were speculated to be stranger choices than usual. This motley trio admittedly inspired a  few raised eyebrows, but none were prepared for the news that would precipitate from the Pulitzer Board’s final conference -- that ,in fact, none had been worthy of the prestigious literary prize.

Peter Behrens’ New Book Traces a Family Saga That Spans Generations and Countries

Lee Polevoi

Peter Behrens’ first novel, The Law of Dreams, received the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, and he has also published Night Driving, a collection of short stories. His prose is clear and lyrical, and he demonstrates a deep empathy for all of his characters. If the intensity of the early chapters of The O'Briens gives way to a less focused, more rambling account of the lives of the O’Brien clan, this may be as much a function of this type of novel as his conception and execution. But throughout, Behrens’ affinity for landscape and family shine through. 

New Fiction: Death Threat

Lee Polevoi

The Bentley was parked and idling at the curb.  As always, my driver Emil Vaka stood by the open rear door,  his own uniform of ancient Habsburg design garlanded with regal epaulets.  I already pictured myself settling in the backseat as we sped downtown; but as I tugged my camel-hair coat against the morning chill, a woman crossed my path, walking a black-and-tan spaniel on a jewel-encrusted leash.  She was tall, dark-haired, no older than forty, wearing a fur stole and the  air of Old World wealth.  As we exchanged a cordial smile, new purpose suddenly entered my life. 

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