literature

Ayelet Waldman Goes In Search of Lost Treasures in New Book

Kaitlyn Fajilan

The year is 1945. The setting, the outskirts of Salzburg, Austria. Newly victorious American soldiers approach a series of over 40 passenger and freight wagons from Hungary. To their surprise, inside the wagons are the countless possessions of Hungary's displaced Jews--from gold watches, to silver candlesticks, to silk bedsheets, to old manuscripts--they number in the hundred thousands, their records of ownership tenuous at best. This mass of abandoned items will become known to history as the Hungarian Gold Train.

Love, Loneliness Are Focus of David James Poissant’s' The Heaven of Animals'

Melinda Parks

If a purpose of literature is to expose universal truths about life and human nature, then David James Poissant’s The Heaven of Animals has done its job. Poissant, a celebrated young writer whose stories have appeared in such publications as The Atlantic Monthly, The Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times, and whose work has already garnered impressive literary awards and critical praise, presents layered storylines and realistically flawed characters in his first collection of short stories.

Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche Wage an Artistic War in ‘Words and Pictures’

Tara Taghizadeh

While the tug-of-war between art versus language serves as a backdrop for the film, the real story is Jack’s tenure as teacher and the danger he faces from the board for losing his job. There are teachers and administrators who side with him and praise his teaching skills, and those who would rather see him go. In the midst of his midlife crisis and his continuous efforts to combat alcoholism, we witness a budding (and surprising) romance between him and Dina.

Navigating the Mostly Difficult World of Chang-Rae Lee

Lee Polevoi

The decision proves to be a masterstroke, since one of the chief pleasures of On Such a Full Sea is the anxious, reflective, self-questioning and cautiously prideful “chorus of We” that tells the story of Fan, a 16-year-old fish-tank diver in a highly stratified, post-apocalyptic America. The collective voice emanates from B-Mor, “once known as Baltimore,” whose inhabitants are charged with raising fish and vegetables to feed the elite Charter villages, located across a vast, lawless territory called the “open counties.” 

Remembering Maya Angelou

Monée Fields-White

One of the United States' most prolific and beloved authors and poets has died at the age of 86. Maya Angelou was a Renaissance woman whose life inspired six autobiographies, including her internationally celebrated first memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  Angelou was found unresponsive in her Winston-Salem, N.C., home. Her death comes just days after she canceled an appearance in which she was to be honored at the Major League Baseball Beacon Awards luncheon in Houston.

Corruption, Greed in the Roaring ‘20s Set the Tone for ‘Truth to Power’

Rebekah Frank

The roaring Twenties, organized crime, crooked politicians, the assault on the newspaper industry by big money, sex, love, romance; Truth to Power by J.S. Matlin has it all.  Only it still manages to fall flat.  The book, broken into three subsections, begins in 1924 with the central character, David Driscoll, pulling into a town called St. Luke in the American Midwest.  Humiliated by the discovery of his dalliance with the editor-in-chief’s wife and an unethical arrangement with an advertiser, he is sent packing from his first job at The St. Louis Star to a smalltown newspaper called The St. Luke Bugle.

The Story of the Joads Still Matters, 75 Years Later

Benjamin Wright

As an historical novel, The Grapes of Wrath is rooted in the events that took place three-quarters of a century ago, which may make it seem dated to some readers. But though times have changed, many of the troubles that the Joads confronted are (unfortunately) still with us – economic injustice, the struggle for human worth, corruption. Of equal significance, the work deals with nearly universal themes – human dignity, the struggle for survival and, more than anything else, hope – that make it as pertinent today as it was 75 years ago. 

Gruesome Murders Haunt ‘Quiet Dell’

Lee Polevoi

In 1931, after an exchange of love letters, a man calling himself Cornelius Pierson first relocated a middle-aged widow named Asta Eicher and later her three children, from their home in Park Ridge, Illinois, to the small town of Quiet Dell, West Virginia. Weeks later, the bodies of the Eicher family were discovered beneath the garage of a home owned by Harry Powers, who turned out to be a psychopathic killer. Powers was convicted of their murders (and others) and executed in 1932.

Top Literary Cities in the U.S.

Gabriella Tutino

What determines a city as ‘literary?’ It’s not enough to have a large library, unique bookstores, or be the birthplace of a famous writer. Nor is it enough to be one of the top literate cities in the United States  Most literary cities have a strong writing program at one of their numerous colleges and universities, as well as bookstores and institutions hosting event after event. If anything, a literary city is a blend of the historical, cultural, and modern parts of literature, encouraging and inspiring future generations to appreciate and take part in the literary world.

Why Ralph Ellison Still Matters

Greg Thomas

Never out of print since it became a best-seller in 1952, and winner of the National Book Award in 1953, Ellison’s fictional masterpiece is generally recognized as one of the most influential novels of the 20th century. This is the tale of the often slapstick (mis)adventures of a nameless African American protagonist whose blues-drenched, pinball-like journey from the South to the North and from rural to city not only mirrored the historical trajectory of black folk, but whose search for identity resonates, even today, with all.

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