Literature

Corrie Hulse

A few years back I found myself sifting through books at the Powell’s satellite store in the Portland International Airport. In search of some good in-flight reading, I stumbled upon Gina Berriault’s The Descent. Its yellowed and frayed pages called out to me from the pile of books on the cart. This copy had obviously seen better days, with its pages beginning to pull away from the binding. This, for me, was a sign it was sure to be a good book.

Shaun Randol

The modern history of Afghanistan is a tapestry rent and torn by invasions and internal conflict, both political and religious. Through it all, Afghanis have struggled to define what it means for them to be a united people. A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear elegantly captures the essence of this tumultuous cultural narrative, with all its existential angst. To traverse the fractured mind of Farhad, the protagonist and narrator of Atiq Rahimi’s latest novel, is to glimpse the broken soul of a battered and confused country.

Ather Zia

Vicente Garcia Groyon

Japanese novelist Natsuo Kirino (a pen name) is generally categorized as a crime fiction writer, though given the range and depth of characters she writes about, crimes are incidental to the designs of her plots. Given the social and personal forces her characters struggle against, murder, robbery, or fraud are inevitable, even necessary.

Odimegwu Onwumere

Poets and poetry are integral to Nigerian culture. Since the dawn of civilization, history and stories have been passed through generations in poetic form. In modern times, poets have been affected by colonialism, political and economic upheaval, and globalization. Odimegwu Onwumere gives us a brief history of the Nigerian poet, and looks ahead to tomorrow's leading voices.

Vicente Garcia Groyon

I recently finished the novel The File on H by Albanian writer Ismail Kadare, which I thoroughly enjoyed for its deadpan absurdity. Kadare won the Man Booker International Prize in 2005, which is given to a writer for a body of work rather than a single book.

Vicente Garcia Groyon

Shaun Randol

In 1971, Xiaoda Xiao was arrested in China and labeled a "counterrevolutionary." He spent five years in prison, and then two more in a labor camp. The Cave Man is a novel inspired by Xiao's experiences, as well as those of his friends. Shaun Randol reviews the haunting journey of a man trying to find himself after being released from a living hell.

Shaun Randol

Recently I was struck by the similarities underlying dystopic visions found in a novel first published in 1953, and another released this year. In both Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, the future America is an illiterate country. Americans are not only illiterate in both of these bleak futures, but they are illiterate (unwittingly or not, it’s difficult to say) as a result of their own design.

Vicente Garcia Groyon

In the recent Philippine staging of Argentinean writer Griselda Gambaro’s Information for Foreigners, much of the specifics of Ms. Gambaro’s play have been replaced with Philippine equivalents, to chilling effect. The experiment of the play is to force the melding of the theaters of illusion and imagination, intensifying the eventual shock of recognition. Vicente Garcia Groyon reviews.

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