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In Conversation

Marlon James with John Domini

Like all Marlon James’s fiction, this novel explores the past—but it goes further back, to medieval Africa, while wholeheartedly embracing fantasy. There are bat-winged monsters and trans-dimensional portals; the book is the first in a trilogy, what the author calls, “an African Games of Thrones.”

Natalia Ginzburg’s Voices in the Evening

The quest to deliver on behalf of someone else—alive or dead—shapes Natalia Ginzburg’s Voices in the Evening. Ginzburg’s novel begins in the wake of World War II, in a fictional Italian village, where the 27-year-old narrator, Elsa, and her mother are returning home from her mother’s doctor appointment.

Claudia Durastanti’s Strangers I Know

Claudia Durastanti may be a new novelist as far as most Americans are concerned, but Strangers I Know is actually the Italian author’s fourth novel, her first to be published in translation in America. Originally published in 2019 as La straniera in Italy, the book was a finalist for the Premio Strega.

Ben Okri & Mónica Ojeda

These two very different tales share few themes beyond the nascent power of young girls and a characterization of the natural world as essential in understanding our own humanity. Where Booker Prize winner Ben Okri’s (The Famished Road) magically graceful environmental fairy tale is full of light and hope, Mónica Ojeda’s Jawbone is rife with gothic body horror and the darkness of the jungle and within ourselves.

John McWhorter’s Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America

In politics, the culture war between the “woke” and the unrelentingly unwoke rages on, and we might count casualties in the results of the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.

In Conversation

Wayne Koestenbaum with Tony Leuzzi

February 22, 2022 marks the release of Ultramarine, the third volume in Wayne Koestenbaum’s trance poem trilogy. This project, which began with The Pink Trance Notebooks (2015) and continued with Camp Marmalade (2018), is remarkable for many reasons, not least of all for the distinct tonal differences (or: colors) between the respective volumes.

Ned Denny’s B (After Dante)

The coincidence of the publication of the 2019 Seamus Heaney Poetry Prize winner Ned Denny’s translation B (After Dante) of Dante’s Divina Commedia, and the 700th year since the poet’s death in the autumn of 1321, proves suitably momentous. Coincidental, because Denny embarked on his “long labour” when he was 40, “nel mezzo del cammin” (di nostra vita), six years ago, with no thought of the anniversary; and long before the appropriately medieval and infernal plague conditions in which it has been published, Dante having died of malaria.

Marino Magliani's A Window to Zeewijk

A Window to Zeewijk casts a shadow over conventional notions of a novel. The slim text is Magliani’s first in the US, and Emanuele Pettener’s brief introduction terms him “an original, wild author.” What follows certainly bears out the claim: a sly charmer of a fiction, its pleasures delicious but out of the ordinary.

Jami Attenberg’s I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home

Jami Attenberg’s (The Middlesteins) new memoir, I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home, is sort of a manifesto to the struggling writer. Well, at least it was for me. Each chapter explored the complications of pursuing creativity while getting knocked down in the process, both by the industry and by self-doubt, only to finally achieve some success and wonder what it all really means. 

In Conversation

Rachel Rear with Ian MacAllen

Stephanie Kupchynsky’s 1991 disappearance from her home in Greece, New York haunted the people of her home town of East Brunswick, New Jersey, a bedroom community about an hour south of Brooklyn. Kupchynsky’s father, Jerry, taught music at the local school. He was beloved by his students, like Rachel Rear, who played the clarinet. Rachel’s mother eventually married Jerry, and she became his stepdaughter and Stephanie’s stepsister. During that time, Stephanie’s disappearance remained unsolved.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2022

All Issues