On Fiction

Where There is Dust, There is Hope

At the half-way point of Kenya’s hotly-contested 2007 elections, the challenger Raila Odinga seemed poised to unseat President Mwai Kibaki. Odinga championed a host of Kenyan tribes who felt underrepresented…

The Public “I” of Julie Otsuka

Few writers of color in the twenty-first century work in the fierce tones of the Black Arts and Red Power movements. Few writers of any race, working in any genre,…

Concern for the Destiny of the Country: Indian Feminist Novels

Indian literary critic Meenakshi Mukherjee has said that the essential concern of the twentieth-century Indian novelist was the changing national scene and the destiny of the country. She was referring…

Out of Body: Reading Gender Through “Women’s Fiction”

It was a book my two boys wanted me to read to them over and over again: the story of how Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, Mary Ann, dug…

In Which The Critical Flame Dedicates One Year to Women Writers and Writers of Color

Women writers and writers of color are underserved and undervalued by the contemporary literary community. The phenomenon has been well documented by critics such as Roxane Gay and Ruth Franklin, and by…

Mailer Versus Mailer

The evolution of Norman Mailer’s legacy has reached a pivotal moment. Simon & Schuster has recently published Norman Mailer: A Double Life, J. Michael Lennon’s authorized biography of the controversial…

Fiction Illuminating History: Paul Yoon’s Snow Hunters

Recently a call went out for contributors to a conference panel on the links between contemporary Asian American fiction writers’ experimentation and their groundedness in Asian American history and culture….

Restraint and Closure: The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra

Books and movies very often remain interesting right up until the end, but concluding a narrative in a satisfying way seems to require an almost impossible fortitude. Plots fizzle; characters…

To Follow This Dark River: Echoes of Joseph Conrad in David Mitchell

“I think of it in terms of when I walk into a cathedral I don’t really understand the mechanics of the force that is keeping tons and tons of stone…

Truncated Memory: Carissa Halston’s The Mere Weight of Words

In her short story, “The Bear Came over the Mountain,” Alice Munro pulls off a spectacular flash-forward. It begins with more than a page of details about the parents of…

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