• May 20, 2019

    Bookforum talks with Astra Taylor

    The media landscape is awash with concerns about threats to contemporary democracy. Political commentary rightly speaks to very troubling political shifts: President Donald Trump’s undermining of liberal institutions; concerns over Russian election interference; Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s upending of liberal democracy; Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s fascistic agenda; right-wing populism's rise across the West, and more. But media commentary often takes for granted that our imperiled democracies are the form of political life we should be upholding and defending, rather than

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  • May 15, 2019

    Bookforum talks with Sophie Lewis

    When the topic of surrogacy is given media space, stories usually revolve around the struggles of women with fertility problems who turn to surrogate gestators to relieve the pain of childlessness. Or they expose the commercial surrogacy industry’s exploitative practices, lingering on the perceived body horror of commercializing someone’s else womb.” Surrogacy is presented as either a glorious gift or the worst sort of exploitation. Sophie Lewis’s book Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family, takes a scalpel to both these accounts. Indeed, it explodes the very concept of surrogacy, and

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  • April 24, 2019

    Bookforum talks with T Kira Madden

    T Kira Madden grew up queer and biracial in Boca Raton, Florida, the only child of parents battling drug and alcohol addictions. In her widely-lauded debut memoir, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, she details her coming-of-age and her search, admist such volatile circumstances, for connection and stability. She often finds those things—or semblances of them—in unlikely places. The first few pages of the memoir find Madden befriending the J.C. Penney jewelry mannequin her mother sets up in their living room to ward off intruders, naming him "Uncle Nuke." She twists off his plastic hand,

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  • Nancy K. Miller
    April 11, 2019

    Bookforum talks with Nancy K. Miller

    Nancy K. Miller is a veteran feminist academic—an early scholar of French feminist literature at Columbia, the first full-time tenured member of the Women’s Studies Program at Barnard College and its first director, and now Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center. All of this history flows into her recent book My Brilliant Friends, a piece of hybrid autobiographical criticism about her friendships with the scholars Carolyn Heilbrun, Naomi Schor, and Diane Middlebrook. Rather than a portrait of rosy, simplified affection, Miller follows the

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  • April 03, 2019

    Bookforum talks with Valeria Luiselli

    Valeria Luiselli began volunteering as a translator for children in immigration court around five years ago. Drawing on that work, and the activism that followed, she wrote two books: Tell Me How It Ends, an extended essay based on the questionnaire used to interview the children, and her latest, Lost Children Archive (Knopf, $28), a novel about a family traveling by car from New York City to Arizona so that the father, an audio documentarian, can work on a project about the Chiricahua Apache. During the trip, the mother becomes obsessed with news on the radio of migrant children being deported

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  • Geoff Dyer. Photo: Marzena Pogorzaly
    March 20, 2019

    Bookforum talks with Geoff Dyer

    In 2012, the British author Geoff Dyer published Zona, an eccentric volume on Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky’s vaunted 1979 film. Dyer’s Zona moves with pronounced energy between close readings and carefree riffs. Dyer’s new book, ‘Broadsword Calling Danny Boy’—just out from Pantheon—marks the writer’s second crack at book-length movie criticism. Slimmer than Zona, 'Broadsword Calling Danny Boy' offers a gleeful report on Where Eagles Dare (1968), Brian G. Hutton’s World War II entertainment about a pack of Allied soldiers (led by Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood) attempting to retrieve an American

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  • March 06, 2019

    Bookforum talks to Leah Dieterich

    Leah Dieterich’s Vanishing Twins is more than a memoir about love and marriage. It’s a literary experiment in both structure and subject, a novel mix of theory and story. The book examines Dieterich’s marriage to Eric, a man she met in college. When they first got together, they formed an unusually close partnership, creating a private world that felt both thrilling and stifling (as Dieterich notes, they had never spent more than a night apart). Eventually, this dynamic became overwhelming to her, and the couple decided to experiment with non-monogamy. Dieterich narrates the ensuing adventures,

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  • Sam Lipsyte. Photo: Robert Reynolds
    January 30, 2019

    Bookforum talks to Sam Lipsyte

    Anyone familiar with Sam Lipsyte's work knows to expect somersaults of sentences, language twisted line after line into laugh-inducing poses. In his new novel, Hark, those poses have names: “Ithaka, Persian Rain, Moonlight Diana Number Three, Wheel of Tartars.” But this isn't pilates—it’s a form of self-actualization called “mental archery,” propagated by a man named Hark Morner. The book is more than the story of Hark’s followers—it's an expansive look at the search for meaning and progress in a crumbling world, full of ineffectual leaders and full of itself. It would be easy to call Lipsyte's

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  • January 14, 2019

    Bookforum talks with A. S. Hamrah

    One of our most unerring critics, A. S. Hamrah is a soothsayer, a sidesplitter, a crank, and a moralist. His reviews linger wherever his attention is drawn, whether on or off screen: in the prosthetic hand worn by Jessica Biel over a prop stump for a shlocktale about American veterans, he presents a withering metaphor for Hollywood’s political cowardice; a missed screening prompts him to write an unmissable tale about the indignities weathered by reviewers. He has previewed films he will not see, and covered others without once mentioning character, plot, or star.

    With his collection The

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  • December 11, 2018

    Bookforum talks with John Keene

    The writer, translator, and poet John Keene has long married a daringly experimental style with a commitment to stories that are usually omitted by history’s ellipses. It’s an approach tangible in his work as a translator, where Keene has long expounded the need for English editions of black diasporic authors (coining, in his essay “Translating Poetry, Translating Blackness,” the hashtag #NonAnglophoneNarrativesStoriesPoemsandOtherFormsofExpressionofBlackLivesMatter); as well as in his fiction, from his 1995 debut Annotations, a black, queer bildungsroman-turned-fugue of semi-autobiographical

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  • December 03, 2018

    Bookforum talks to Meghan O’Gieblyn

    “The Midwest is a somewhat slippery notion,” Meghan O’Gieblyn writes in her debut essay collection, Interior States. “It is a region whose existence—whose very name—has always been contingent upon the more fixed and concrete notion of the West. . . . It’s difficult to live here without developing an existential dizziness, a sense that the rest of the world is moving while you remain still.”

    As a lifelong Midwesterner, O’Gieblyn’s personal existential dizziness is compounded by the loss of her faith. Raised in an evangelical Christian family, O’Gieblyn studied at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago

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  • November 12, 2018

    Bookforum talks to Sarah Schulman

    Sarah Schulman is a native New Yorker, an activist, and, although I'm not sure she would apply the label to herself, a profound philosopher on social relations. All of these streams flow into her recent novel Maggie Terry, a literary detective story about a former NYPD officer struggling with addiction, a tough case, and her ex-partner's theft of her daughter. In a compressed time frame of a few days, Maggie, fresh out of rehab, both loses and finds her place in the new New York. I spoke to Schulman about Maggie Terry and her other work by phone on a Saturday afternoon, me in Los Angeles,

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