• interviews • March 24, 2022
    *Mona Chollet.* Photo: © Mathieu Zazzo.

    Mona Chollet. Photo: © Mathieu Zazzo. It is a misconception that witch hunts only occurred during the Middle Ages—many took place during the alleged lucidity of the Renaissance. Men exploited the climate of suspicion to dispose of women they didn’t want around. Whole family lines were wiped out. Nonconforming women were denounced, humiliated, and killed. Centuries later, this kind of persecution continues in insidious ways, underpinned by relentless misogyny and victim blaming. The same female figures are still considered dangerous: the single woman, the childless woman, the aging woman—all dismissed with fear, pity, or horror. This is the premise

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  • interviews • March 15, 2022
    *Ari Brostoff.* Photo: Amelia Golden

    Ari Brostoff. Photo: Amelia Golden Ari Brostoff’s debut collection of essays, Missing Time, shows one of our very best cultural critics at work. Written between 2016 and 2021, these five essays range from analyses of Bernie Sanders, The X-Files, Sigmund Freud, conspiracy theories, Jewish diaspora, Vivian Gornick, and falling in and out of (and back in) love with communism. What unites them is the curiously roving perspective of Brostoff, whose wisdom lies in understanding how popular culture and ephemera might be as ripe for historizing as social movements and schools of thought. A piercing investigation of the cultural detritus

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  • interviews • March 4, 2022
    *Missouri Williams.* Photo: Ceci June

    Missouri Williams. Photo: Ceci June Missouri Williams is an author, editor, and playwright currently living in Prague. As coeditor of the feminist film journal Another Gaze, and a contributor to outlets like The Baffler, The Nation, and Five Dials, she has written about the social importance of enmity, the epic misery of the writer Thomas Bernhard, and Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. In keeping with these themes, Williams has just produced her first novel, The Doloriad, published by MCD x FSG Originals. An apocalypse narrative of biblical proportions, the book follows an interbreeding

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  • print • Mar/Apr/May 2022
    *Marlon James, 2021.* Mark Seliger

    ELVIA WILK: I wanted to tell you that I had a dream in the Dark Star universe last night.

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  • interviews • February 25, 2022

    Stuart Jeffries is an author and journalist who has contributed to The Guardian for decades as an editor and critic. His illuminating biography of the Frankfurt School, Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School, was published in 2016 by Verso. It was a considerable, pleasantly accessible account of brilliant and conflicted thinkers, cultural Marxism, and the fight against fascism. The subjects of his latest book, Everything, All the Time, Everywhere: How We Became Postmodern, include David Bowie, Grand Theft Auto, Margaret Thatcher, Jeff Koons, Chris Kraus’s novel I Love Dick, and Judith Butler, among others. I recently

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  • interviews • January 25, 2022
    *John Keene*. Photo: Nina Subin

    John Keene. Photo: Nina Subin John Keene, the novelist, translator, poet, is one of these bold, singular artists who continuously redefines and recontextualizes American literature. From his debut with Annotations (1995), a prose-poem about coming-of-age in St. Louis and still ahead of our time, to the masterpiece Counternarratives (2015), Keene’s output remains undefinable for how easily he blends genres, forms, and styles to celebrate the lives and experiences of people in the Americas who remained in history’s margins for far too long. Now, with the publication of his latest poetry collection Punks, Keene brings together poetry from across three

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  • interviews • January 18, 2022

    John Koenig’s new book, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, lives up to its description as a “compendium of new words for emotions.” To many readers, the most recognizable of his neologisms is surely sonder—“the realization that each random passerby is the main character of their own story, in which you are just an extra in the background”—which Koenig introduced years ago and has since found its way into the popular lexicon because of, one assumes, the ubiquity of the realization. Yet any dictionary is also an exhibition of language’s status as a—or, depending on which theorist you consult, the—fundamental

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  • interviews • December 30, 2021
    *Amber Husain*. Photo: Leila Husain

    Amber Husain. Photo: Leila Husain Amber Husain’s Replace Me is a long-form essay on human replaceability in the workplace and in intimate relationships. It draws from Husain’s own experiences and an extensive list of articles, books, films, and artworks. The latter includes the sculpture by German Conceptual artist Rosemarie Trockel that lends its title to the book. Trockel has made at least two works with the title Replace Me, but the one that Husain cites is from 2011: two ceramic sofas covered in plastic with a soft blanket thrown on top. For Husain, the work “distills this doomed collision

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  • interviews • December 21, 2021
    *Cara Blue Adams.* Photo: Roque Nonini

    Cara Blue Adams. Photo: Roque Nonini Cara Blue Adams’s debut short-story collection, You Never Get It Back, follows twentysomething Kate Bishop as she tries to navigate the tenuous postgrad years: we see her fall in and out of love, experiment with different careers, and negotiate a changing relationship with her family as she gains the financial stability that has eluded her immediate relatives. This collection of linked stories highlights Adams’s keen sense of how gender, class, and ambition intertwine—it’s also a tribute to the lives we fight to make for ourselves when saddled with expectations and responsibilities beyond our

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  • interviews • December 15, 2021
    *Geo Maher.* Photo: Verso

    Geo Maher. Photo: Verso Seventeen months after George Floyd was executed by cops in Minneapolis, sparking the most potent Black liberation uprisings in this country in decades, the city held a vote on the future of its police. Minneapolitans were asked to vote on an amendment that would replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety focused on public health solutions. The amendment lost; 56 percent of voters rejected it. All too triumphant headlines followed: this was, we were to understand, a full rebuke of that silly idea that people would want to get rid

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  • interviews • December 8, 2021
    *The second volume of _Cured Quail_*

    The second volume of Cured Quail Early in the pandemic, I googled “community” and “solidarity” and other common words whose purpose I could no longer feel. When I entered “Communism,” I got a page of self-published MAGAroni books detailing the failures of Jon Stewart and then, a few pages in, actual Communists popped up. This translation of Théorie Communiste’s piece on conspiracism brought me to Cured Quail’s blog. (I later quoted this piece in an essay for New York Review of Books about Adam Curtis.) Because I liked the name of the journal and they seemed committed to difficulty

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  • interviews • November 11, 2021
    Brian Evenson. Photo: Kristen Tracey, © 2021.

    Brian Evenson. Photo: Kristen Tracey, © 2021. Brian Evenson’s latest collection, The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell, was published by Coffee House Press in August. Its stories often depict mysterious worlds in which several realities splinter apart. No one is who they seem to be. Everything is a lie, and nothing is true. Today, as our wealthiest citizens race to leave the planet and climate change takes its toll on our forests, oceans, and air, Evenson’s unblinking stories of genetic mutations and ecological disaster read as both cautionary and strangely transcendent. DAVID PEAK: Several stories in The Glassy, Burning

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  • interviews • October 21, 2021
    Tamara Shopsin. © Michael Schmelling

    Tamara Shopsin. © Michael Schmelling Although it sounds like the name of a sequel, LaserWriter II is the debut novel of writer and designer Tamara Shopsin; it takes its name from a laser printer manufactured by Apple in the early 1990s. The mechanics of printing are a formal concern throughout the book, which is divided by surprising page breaks and pixelated illustrations, as well its central plot fixture: Shopsin follows Claire, a young New Yorker with anarchist leanings, through her stint as a printer technician at Tekserve, a computer-repair shop that operated on West 23rd Street until 2016. Between

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  • interviews • October 14, 2021
    Alexandra Brodsky. Photo: Lily Olsen

    Alexandra Brodsky. Photo: Lily Olsen In many ways, Alexandra Brodsky’s new book, Sexual Justice: Supporting Victims, Ensuring Due Process, and Resisting the Conservative Backlash, is a breath of fresh air. Skipping many of the moral debates surrounding sexual violence, Brodsky, a civil rights lawyer, looks for solutions. With a survey of the past and present of sexual abuse adjudication procedures, she looks at what’s working (very little), why sexual violence is treated so much differently than other kinds of harm, and what a viable reporting path for survivors might look like. Brodsky hasn’t always been so deep in the

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  • interviews • October 5, 2021
    Marlowe Granados. Photo: May Truong.

    Marlowe Granados. Photo: May Truong. Marlowe Granados’s debut novel, Happy Hour, follows two twentysomethings, Isa and Gala, as they navigate New York City in the summer of 2013. The pair make ends meet by working odd, off-the-clock jobs and charming everyone in their path. Published by Verso this fall, the book combines fun and glamour with Granados’s sharp sense of how moneyed society really works. Isa and Gala follow in the footsteps of party girls past while living in genuine precarity, but Granados insists that they needn’t suffer for it. For Bookforum, writer Alex Quicho recently caught up with

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  • interviews • September 24, 2021
    Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi. Photo: Kayla Holdread

    Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi. Photo: Kayla Holdread The writer Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi has just published a new novel, Savage Tongues. The book, her third, features a middle-aged writer, Arezu, who returns to a family property in Spain for the first time in twenty years. As a teenager, Arezu had a brutal affair in the apartment with an older man, Omar. Revisiting the site means coming to terms with abuse, violence, desire, and the ways in which politics and power infuse our intimate lives. For Bookforum, poet and writer Nazlı Koca spoke to Oloomi about personal and

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2021
    *Asali Solomon, Philadelphia, 2021.* Ron Nichols; Mural: David Shane

    POROCHISTA KHAKPOUR: The Days of Afrekete (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26) is another outstanding book, following up on your 2006 collection Get Down and your 2015 novel Disgruntled. I just love how you’ve created this incredibly intimate and yet expansive portrait of the complicated friendship of two women at middle age, who have all sorts of identity issues to reckon with—race, sexuality, class, everything. The fact that it is inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Toni Morrison’s Sula, and Audre Lorde’s Zami also made it extra-satisfying to read. To what degree do you think it’s important for readers to know

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  • interviews • July 28, 2021
    Katie Engelhart. Photo: Owain Rich

    Katie Engelhart. Photo: Owain Rich Mainstream debates over assisted suicide, or the “right to die,” are predictable. The so-called “sanctity of life” is pitched against “personal autonomy,” while murkier questions of context, political power, and personhood remain uninterrogated. Journalist Katie Engelhart’s The Inevitable does more than perhaps any book to date to advance and complicate the issue. The intensively reported text offers intimate portraits of people seeking and fighting to expand the “right to die,” each of whom seems to edge closer and closer to what we might call “imit cases”: individuals whose desires for physician-assisted deaths are fraught

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  • interviews • July 15, 2021
    Elias Rodriques

    Elias Rodriques In Elias Rodriques’s new novel, All the Water I’ve Seen Is Running, the protagonist, Daniel, returns to his childhood home in North Florida from New York after a high school friend dies in a drunk-driving accident. Back in the town of Palm Coast, Daniel reunites with a cast of old associates including Desmond and Twig—two friends from the track team—and contemplates confronting the person who could be responsible for his friend’s crash. A mediation on grief, memory, family history, and homecoming, the book is also an exploration of how race, class, and queerness affect these time-honored themes.

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  • interviews • June 15, 2021
    Nana Nkweti. Photo: Shea Sadulski/Out of Focus Photo Studio.

    Nana Nkweti. Photo: Shea Sadulski/Out of Focus Photo Studio. I spoke with Nana Nkweti during the odd time after my first vaccine shot but before my second, when I felt stuck between the world as it has been since March 2020 and the world as it could be, post-immunity. This sense of being caught in two realities at once felt reminiscent of Nkweti’s debut short-story collection, Walking on Cowrie Shells. As embodied in characters like a pastor’s wife carrying a miraculous pregnancy after years of infertility in “The Devil Is a Liar,” an adopted daughter who isn’t at all

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