Book Review: The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead (New York: Doubleday, 2016. 320 pp) Colson Whitehead was born in 1969 and raised in Manhattan. He attended Harvard College and afterward he began working as a reviewer for The Village Voice. Out of the gate, Whitehead’s fiction gained acclaim when his first novel, The Intuitionist, won the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices Award. His work has earned him the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the PEN/Oakland Award, and a Whiting Writers Award. Also, Whitehead has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. Victors Write History History: Written by the Victors. We discuss such a phrase most often around our… Read More →

Book Review: LaRose

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

LaRose: A Novel by Louise Erdrich (New York: Harper, 2016. 384 pp) Louise Erdrich lives with her family in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore. She is also the bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels for adults, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves and the National Book Award finalist The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. She is also the author of the picture book Grandmother’s Pigeon, illustrated by Jim LaMarche. Woke Context plays an important role in the consumption of art. Outside of one-off art installations or performances, a reaction to any specific art form may transform over the years. NeverEnding Story played differently in my childhood… Read More →

Book Review: The Big Picture

The Big Picture by Sean Carroll

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Sean Carroll (New York: Dutton, 2016. 480 pp) Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He has been awarded prizes and fellowships by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics, and the Royal Society of London. His most recent award was a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2015. He is the author of From Eternity to Here and The Particle at the End of the Universe. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jennifer Ouellette. On Ontology We all have a reason for being…. Read More →

Book Review: Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Lovecraft Country: A Novel by Matt Ruff (New York: Harper, 2016. 384 pp) Matt Ruff (b. 1965) wrote his first novel, Fool on the Hill, from his senior thesis at Cornell University. His fourth novel, Bad Monkeys, received a Washington State Book Award for fiction, an Alex Award, and a PNBA Book Award. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Lisa Gold. True to Identity What scares you? Ask the average person this question and you’ll likely receive as many answers as individuals asked. Given our current society, some may say assault rifles; some may suggest weapons of mass destruction. Some people might fear ghosts; others might fear monsters. In all likelihood, most people wouldn’t propose ethereal, systemic, or philosophical… Read More →

Book Review: Home

Home by Marilynne Robinson

Home: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson (New York: Picador, 2008. 336 pp) Born in Sandpoint, Idaho, Marilynne Robinson earned her B.A. at Pembroke College and her Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington. She currently teaches at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has received numerous awards, notably the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Pulitzer Prize, and a National Humanities Medal. True to Identity Marilynne Robinson gets all the props. In her small, fictitious town of Gilead, Robinson conjures the truth of humanity in all its frailty and detail. When considering a story, plot often represents the easy portion. A death propels the protagonist toward the end… Read More →

Book Review: Moral Man & Immoral Society

Moral Man and Immoral Society by Reinhold Niebuhr

Moral Man & Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics by Reinhold Niebuhr (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001; originally published in 1932. 288 pp) Reinhold Niebuhr was a theologian, ethicist, and professor at Union Theological Seminary. Niebuhr attended Elmhurst College, Eden Theological Seminary, and Yale Divinity School. His views have influence countless leaders including Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, John McCain, and Madeleine Albright. In 1964, Niebuhr earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He died in 1971. Looking Back Review the 20th Century and you’ll find plenty to criticize. World wars. Genocide. Massive technological advances. For every slice of progress, it seems there’s an equal and opposite setback. Two steps forward. Two steps backward. With the benefit of hindsight,… Read More →

Book Review: Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist: A Novel by Sunil Yapa (New York: Lee Boudreaux Books, 2016. 320 pp) Sunil Yapa is a Sri Lankan American author. He holds a BA in economic geography from Penn State University and an MFA in Fiction from Hunter College, where he was awarded the Alumni Scholarship & Welfare Fund Fellowship and was twice selected as a Hertog Fellow. He is the recipient of the 2010 Asian American Short Story Award and has received scholarships from The New York State Summer Writers’ Institute, The Norman Mailer Writers’ Center and The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Yapa’s writing has appeared in American Short Fiction, The Margins, Hyphen Magazine, The Tottenville Review, and… Read More →

Book Review: The Children’s Hospital

The Children's Hospital by Chris Adrian

The Children’s Hospital by Chris Adrian (San Francisco: McSweeney’s Books, 2006. 615 pp) Chris Adrian is the author of Gob’s Grief, The Children’s Hospital, and The Great Night. He earned a B.A. in English from the University of Florida and an M.D. from Eastern Virginia Medical School. He completed a pediatric residency at the University of California, San Francisco, studied at Harvard Divinity School, and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He is the Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Enough Already No matter your origin, chances are you’ve encountered a flood story. Judeo-Chrisian households have Noah’s ark, but that’s not the only world-destruction narrative. Despite the myriad of… Read More →

Book Review: The Making of the Zombie Wars

The Making of the Zombie Wars by Aleksandar Hemon

The Making of the Zombie Wars: A Novel by Aleksandar Hemon (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2015. 320 pp) Aleksandar Hemon is the author of The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist for the National Book Award; The Book of My Lives, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and three other works of fiction, including Nowhere Man, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a “Genius Grant” from the MacArthur Foundation. He lives in Chicago. Enough Already The world has no need for more zombie stories. Luckily, Aleksandar Hemon’s latest novel, despite its title, is not about zombies. The Making… Read More →

Book Review: In Other Words

In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri; translated by Ann Goldstein (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. 256 pp) Born in London to Bengali immigrants, Jhumpa Lahiri moved to the United States at the young age of 3. Her first published work, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000. In 2007, Hollywood adapted The Namesake into a feature film.  A recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Lahiri is a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Ann Goldstein is an editor at The New Yorker. She has translated works by, among others, Elena Ferrante, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Primo Levi, Giacomo Leopardi, and Allesandro Baricco, and is the editor of The Complete Works of Primo Levi in English…. Read More →