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Literature Doesn’t Stop at the Unspeakable

- By Michael Rothberg

(Cover design by Deste Roosa; cover art by Judith Wolfe, detail from Dans la Lumière de Glace 1, from the series Hommage à Charlotte Delbo, 2013.)

A Review of Ghislaine Dunant, Charlotte Delbo: A Life Reclaimed, translation and introduction by Kathryn Lachman (Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2021).

The work of Charlotte Delbo has accompanied my thinking and teaching about the Holocaust for the last twenty-five years. Her trilogy Auschwitz and After counts among the most searing responses to the Nazi camps that have appeared in any language, and her late work Days and Memory contains some of...


The Murakami of Our Times

- By Z.L. Nickels

First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami. Trans. Philip Gabriel (Knopf, 2021)

The most significant story I have ever read was a Murakami story. I cannot say which one, only that it appears in the collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. Consider this withholding a sacrament in the name of preservation: once you admit what is most important to you, you have committed an indelible act. I am not willing to surrender myself in this way. I have come too far (and taken far too long) to give up the ghost of the writer I wish to one day be. To relinquish this possibility would require my being fully convinced of myself. It would require being Haruki Murakami.

Not enough is...


The Heart and Power of Cuba and Its People

- By Christopher Louis Romaguera

A Review of Dariel Suarez’s The Playwright’s House

In his debut novel, Dariel Suarez takes the reader into the heart of Cuba, of Havana, of the people of the island. As a Cuban American, I notice how the people of the island are often erased from the stories set in Cuba, the stories written “about” Cuba. Cubans often suffer from a dehumanizing romanticization if not utter erasure from an imperial gaze that doesn’t know how to fit the people into their view of the island they vacation in or dream about. Yet Suarez is too skilled a writer, knows the people of Cuba too well, and The Playwright’s House has too much heart and power, to do anything other...


Signs and Wonders

- By Michael Thurston

A Review of The Deposition by Pete Duval (University of Massachusetts Press, 2021).

I’m going to be straight with you: this is not going to be one of those neutral and dispassionate reviews. The fact is, I know Pete Duval. Not only have I chosen his work (including stories in this volume) for publication in the Massachusetts Review, but I have also talked fiction with him over breakfasts in a now-defunct Middletown diner, drunk Jameson and Guinness with him in a Philly dive, and even driven halfway across the country in a snowstorm with him. So when I tell you that The Deposition...


When Grit Meets Soap:

Mare of Easttown

- By Alexandra Swanson

(Photo: Kate Winslet as Mare in a scene from Mare of Easttown)

I was surprised, and more than a little perplexed, when I realized that Mare of Easttown is a soap opera. I consider myself well-versed in soapy television (I’m currently in the weeds of a dissertation about melodrama), but I had trouble reconciling Mare of Easttown’s gritty dialogue and earthy palette with the plot’s soapy twists and turns. The soaps I know and love, like General Hospital, have historically had a more candy-colored hue.

Each episode of Mare of Easttown got detective Mare Sheehan a little closer to solving the murder of seventeen-year-old Erin McMenamin, and, for me, each episode ushered in a new level of wide-eyed incredulity. My...

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