Category: Reviews

Review: Uncle Sharif’s Life in Music

Uncle Sharif’s Life in Music by Kazim Ali Review by Eric Schlich With several volumes of poetry, books of essays, novels, and works in translation under his belt, Kazim Ali seems to have done it all. The writer has few literary genres left to debut and so we are all the more fortunate to have this: his first collection of short…

Review: Anybody

Anybody by Ari Banias Review by Jayme Ringleb Anybody, Ari Banias’s debut collection, examines our invented understanding of a world we’ve codified with language and made, because of these codifications, at times less visible to ourselves and to our own understandings. So many of the collection’s poems interrogate the taxonomical and transactional erasures created by human naming, particularly as this act of…

Review: Isadora

Isadora by Amelia Gray Review by Daniel LoPilato   In “The Storyteller,” Walter Benjamin examines the legacy of the oral storytelling tradition and its print descendent, the novel. “The novel is significant,” he writes, “not because it presents someone else’s fate to us, but because this stranger’s fate by virtue of the flame which consumes it yields us the warmth which…

Review: What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, by Helen Oyeyemi Review by Kaley Jemison   Helen Oyeyemi’s latest book, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, is a collection of short stories that ranges from magical realism to the ultramodern. Her stories center on themes of identity, love, and sexuality. They are connected through images of keys both literal and figurative:…

Review: Do Not Become Alarmed

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy Review by Whitney Gilchrist A rare abstract sentence in Maile Meloy’s new novel Do Not Become Alarmed offers a way of understanding the story itself: “One aspect of human resilience, in all its marvelousness, was the ability to recalibrate, to adjust to new circumstances with astonishing speed.” The story embeds this reflection on “recalibrat[ion]”…

Review: Contradictions in the Design

Contradictions in the Design by Matthew Olzmann Review by Ray Barker The thirty-seven poems in Matthew Olzmann’s recent collection, Contradictions in the Design, strive to find meaning and value in personal experiences as viewed through a historical lens. With an endless reserve of curiosity, Olzmann surveys a range of places and objects, questioning their significance as clues to deeper truths. Museums figure…

Review: The Return

The Return by Hisham Matar Review by Feroz Rather During the days of popular revolt against Gaddafi’s authoritarian regime, Hisham Matar—the 47-year-old Libyan writer who has made London his home—calls an old man living in Zliten. “I watched them from my window,” the old man tells him. “They came with bulldozers and dug up the graves, one after the other.…

Review: A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles Review by Megan Tilley Elegantly crafted and dazzlingly clever, Amor Towles’s novel A Gentleman in Moscow transcends the often gloomy descriptions of Soviet-era Russia to create a world both insulated from the outside world and endlessly influenced by it. While many novels set in tumultuous 1920s Moscow spend considerable time on the metropolis…