A Memoir of Violence and Complicated Memory

Book review: The Other Side, by Lacy M. Johnson The short version: Lacy Johnson was kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend and held prisoner in a soundproofed basement he’d constructed solely for the purpose of raping and brutally killing her. He didn’t succeed in killing her. This book is about that event, how it affected her and her relationships over the following years, the ways memory forms and fades, … Continue reading A Memoir of Violence and Complicated Memory

South African Roots and Apartheid’s Influence, with a Sense of Humor

Book review: Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah Where most children are proof of their parents’ love, I was the proof of their criminality. Apartheid is one of those subjects that I know embarrassingly little about beyond the basics. If you’re in the same position, I highly recommend comedian and Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s 2016 memoir, Born a Crime, of his unique experience growing up as mixed-race in … Continue reading South African Roots and Apartheid’s Influence, with a Sense of Humor

Fidelity, Identity, Disappearance, Wanderlust

Book review: The Art of Vanishing, by Laura Smith Writer and journalist Laura Smith viewed her upcoming wedding quite differently than what might be considered standard. She didn’t relish being the center of attention. She deeply loved and wanted to be committed to her fiancé, but had trepidations about the institution of marriage and all that it entails – what it said about her identity as … Continue reading Fidelity, Identity, Disappearance, Wanderlust

Smart, Richly Crafted Essays from the Incomparable Zadie Smith

Book review: Feel Free, by Zadie Smith Novelist Zadie Smith has got to be one of the most brilliant minds writing today. She burst onto the literary scene with the novel White Teeth in 2000 and has been a heavyweight presence ever since. I read that book and only retained from it that I liked it a lot – when it arose as a topic … Continue reading Smart, Richly Crafted Essays from the Incomparable Zadie Smith

A View From the Border

Book review: The Line Becomes a River, by Francisco Cantú When I was in school, I spent all this time studying international relations, immigration, border security. I was always reading about policy and economics, looking at all these complex academic ways of addressing this big unsolvable problem. When I made the decision to apply for this job, I had the idea that I’d see things … Continue reading A View From the Border

A Family Broken Apart by War and a Stylistic Trek Across Europe

Book review: Maybe Esther, by Katja Petrowskaja The train station was recently built in the middle of this city, and despite the peace the station was inhospitable, as though it embodied all the losses that no train could outrun, one of the most inhospitable places in our Europe, united as it is forward and backward, yet still sharply bounded, a place that always feels drafty and … Continue reading A Family Broken Apart by War and a Stylistic Trek Across Europe

Poetic Explorations of American Culture, History, Race, and the Downsides of NYC

Book review: Notes from No Man’s Land, by Eula Biss I discovered Eula Biss’s confrontational but melodic, intelligent and analytical writing in the collection Tales of Two Americas. It’s a great collection of essays, stories, and poems all dealing somehow with various aspects of American inequality. She contributed a piece about the concept of white debt, and how it’s not something that can be repaid simply by saying … Continue reading Poetic Explorations of American Culture, History, Race, and the Downsides of NYC

Frank Stories of Schizophrenia

Book review: A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise, by Sandra Allen All those fuckers…all of them with their clicking pens and quiet judgment, all of them did not get it. There was something in the sky. This was the best moment of Bob’s life so far. This was when he realized that, no matter what, there was something bigger than all of this. There was an … Continue reading Frank Stories of Schizophrenia

The Boy Next Door, the Past, and a Sense of Place

Book review: Riverine, by Angela Palm Angela Palm grew up in rural Indiana, in a house built in a dried-out riverbed created by redirecting the Kankakee River, their little town not even designated on maps. Next door lived a boy named Corey, and they had the typical girl-and-boy-next-door relationship, into their adolescence. They weren’t ever formally together, it was all very emotional and intense without being any kind … Continue reading The Boy Next Door, the Past, and a Sense of Place

Heartbreaking, Illuminating North Korean Defector’s Memoir that Lingers

Book review: A River in Darkness, by Masaji Ishikawa What do I remember of that night? The night I escaped from North Korea? There are so many things that I don’t remember, that I’ve put out of my mind forever…But I’ll tell you what I do recall. It’s drizzling. But soon the drizzle turns to torrential rain. Sheets of rain so heavy, I’m soaked to … Continue reading Heartbreaking, Illuminating North Korean Defector’s Memoir that Lingers

A Light in the Darkest Places

Book review: The Only Girl in the World, by Maude Julien My father is convinced that the mind can achieve anything. Absolutely anything: it can overcome every danger and conquer every obstacle. But to do this requires long, rigorous training away from the impurities of this dirty world. He’s always saying, “Man is profoundly evil, the world is profoundly dangerous.” This memoir, written by a … Continue reading A Light in the Darkest Places

Upcoming New Nonfiction in 2018, Part 2

One post of anticipated reads for 2018 wasn’t enough to include them all, especially with so many exciting -sounding ones already on the release calendar. Here, a dozen more of the year’s upcoming reads I think are worth taking note of, mainly from the latter part of the year. Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found (Gilbert King, … Continue reading Upcoming New Nonfiction in 2018, Part 2