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Deus ex machina

- By Jim Hicks

Who’s to say just what it is that inspires a reader? To my mind, the writer who answers this question with the most force and clarity is Erri De Luca. But then, I would think that, since I translate him. Here’s what Erri says:

"For those who stumble into a serendipitous reciprocity between life and reading, literature works at the level of nerve fibers. You can’t book such appointments in advance, nor can you recommend them to others. Every reader deserves to be astonished by the sudden interplay between his days and the pages of a book."

I like this quote on several levels, but mainly because in my experience it’s true. The connection between life and literature, when it happens, is electric, and it sings the...


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

A Review of Haruki Murakami's First Person Singular. Transl. 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...


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...

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