• The second volume of Cured Quail
    December 08, 2021

    A new journal uses obstacles to critically evaluate culture

    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 Quails 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 in a general sense, I ordered the first volume

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

    Bookforum talks with Brian Evenson about his new story collection, The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell

    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 Floor of Hell are

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  • Tamara Shopsin. © Michael Schmelling
    October 21, 2021

    Bookforum talks with Tamara Shopsin about LaserWriter II, her novel of a Manhattan computer-repair shop

    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 shifts spent laboring over

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

    Bookforum talks with Alexandra Brodsky about her new book investigating how sexual violence is adjudicated

    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 procedural

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  • Marlowe Granados. Photo: May Truong.
    October 05, 2021

    Bookforum talks with Marlowe Granados about her new novel Happy Hour

    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 Granados to talk about glamour,

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

    Bookforum talks with Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi about her new novel

    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 political self-destruction, resilience, the literature of exile, and the

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  • Asali Solomon, Philadelphia, 2021. Ron Nichols; Mural: David Shane

    A Day in the Life

    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

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

    Bookforum talks with Katie Engelhart about the right-to-die movement

    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

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  • Elias Rodriques
    July 15, 2021

    Bookforum talks with Elias Rodriques about nature, memory, and grief in his debut novel

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

    Bookforum talks with Nana Nkweti about her debut short-story collection

    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 like what her parents expect in “It Takes a Village Some Say,” and a jaded publicist

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  • Elissa Washuta. Photo: K. R. Forbes
    June 03, 2021

    Bookforum talks with Elissa Washuta about her new essay collection

    In her new collection of linked essays, Elissa Washuta explores heartbreak, the occult, and the legacy of settler colonialism in the US. Weaving Native folklore with the history of exploitation of tribes such as the Duwamish people—alongside analysis of Twin Peaks, Fleetwood Mac videos, and the Oregon Trail II computer game—Washuta considers broader notions of inheritance, magic, and value. For Bookforum, Washuta and I chatted over Zoom about narrative, literary Twitter, and learning to cede control.

    ELIZABETH LOTHIAN: You play with narrative a lot in White Magic. Can you talk a bit about

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  • Rachel Kushner. Photo: Gabby Laurent
    May 25, 2021

    Bookforum talks with Rachel Kushner about carceral geography and her new book, The Hard Crowd

    JULIA PAGNAMENTA: In a recent interview hosted by 192 Books, Ben Lerner observed that your essays in The Hard Crowd “resist psychological access.” You replied that any self-reflection missing from the essays was “intentional,” and that you were interested in analysis rather than in therapy. That the difference between the two models might play a role in the kind of “self-revelations” you were “willing to share.”

    I thought of this exchange when reading “Popular Mechanics,” The Hard Crowd’s chapter on writer Nanni Balestrini, where you write about Alfonso Natella, the protagonist in his novel

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