Hope and Joy Amid Difficulty: The Lowland

Originally posted on The Bookshelf of Emily J.:

I’ve been a fan of Jhumpa Lahiri’s since reading her first novel The Namesake (2003), and I moved from there to her short stories, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning collection Interpreter of Maladies (1999).  I will read anything she writes.  So when her second novel The Lowland (2013) came out last year, I jumped at the chance to read it.  I quickly put my name on the library list, and then I had to wait many months to actually get my hands on it.  It was worth the wait.


The novel is about two brothers, born around World War II.  Udayan becomes a Naxalite Communist in India in the 1960s, while the Subhash goes to Rhode Island for school.  He stays in the United States and earns a Ph.D., eventually marrying his brother’s wife!  It is an interesting and tragic twist of fate.  His brother is arrested and executed for being…

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Best Thing I’ve Read This Month: Abide

Originally posted on Vouched Books:

York From 2004-2005, I was a graduate student of Jake Adam York’s at University of Colorado-Denver; I also worked as a poetry editor with him on some early issues of Copper Nickel . Having known Jake personally and being familiar with his dedication to and enthusiasm for all-things poetry, it was heartbreaking to hear of his untimely death just over one year ago.

After recently receiving a copy of his posthumously released Abide (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014) in the mail, I was thankful for the opportunity to read new work by him; but that thankfulness was tempered by the sadness of knowing that he is no longer with us.

Abide serves to reinforce these conflicted feelings. On the one hand, the poems demonstrate York’s deft musicality, attention to craft, and adherence to an ethical imperative that originates in the historicity and spirit of the Civil Rights movement. On the other…

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Bookslinger Update: “Paints and Papers”

Originally posted on The Bookslinger:

The Bookslinger app has been updated with a new story!

This week’s story is from Innocent Party by Aimee Parkison, published by BOA Editions, Ltd. In this collection, Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize–winner Aimee Parkison’s characters struggle to understand what happens when the innocent party becomes the guilty party. With magical realist flair, secrets are aired with dirty laundry, but the stains never come clean. Carol Anshaw writes, “Aimee Parkison offers a distinct new voice to contemporary fiction. Her seductive stories explore childhood as a realm of sorrows, and reveal the afflictions of adults who emerge from this private geography.”

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Literary Luminary: Pamela Erens


Pamela Erens‘s first novel The Understory (Ironweed Press, 2007) was a slim volume but a gem. Unfortunately, it only found a small audience of diehard fiction lovers, but anyone who read it immediately saw the brilliance of the work (Tin House will be reissuing it soon). When Tin House published her second novel, The Virgins, suddenly it seemed as though the entire literary world woke up. Quality and lengthy reviews and essays appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, Slate, Book Slut, The Independent, The Rumpus, and the Los Angeles Review of Books as well as in a slew of other places.


For being such a small endeavor, Gently Read Literature has been obscenely fortunate to have not only reviewed The Understory and The Virgins, but to have had Erens herself review for us. With AWP 2014 raging this week, I thought it a good idea to present to you a compendium of Gently Read Literature’s Erens commentary. 

thevirginBelow are two reviews of The Virgins, the first from Sophfronia Scott featured in the Fall 2013 issue and the second from Ed Davis that ran in the current Winter 2014 issue. Then there’s Zinta Aistars’s review of The Understory which was featured in November of 2009. Later on that year, Erens reviewed Pasha Malla’s The Witdrawal Method and then in2010 David Shields’s Reality Hunger.

Alongside Paul Harding and Alissa Nutting, Pamela Erens may be quietly becoming one of the most important writers in the country.


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AWP2014: The End of Long Form Reading?

Originally posted on BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog:

awp seattle An AWP Guest blog post from Daniel Wallace:

On this, the first day of AWP, I woke to find that a friend in India had posted to my Facebook wall another attack on creative writing by the infamous Anis Shivani. Shivani was asking if the great noise of the AWP conference masked a drought of great writing in the contemporary world. As I ran through crowded halls and down unmarked escalators, coffee spilling on my hand, searching for room “LL4,” being directed back the way I had come, learning that I had to follow the “blue carpet,” excusing my way through lines and lines of writers, I was sure of one thing, at least: there is a lot of noise at AWP, both outside and in me.

The panel “Teaching Brief, Sudden, Flash, and Very Short Prose” described many methods and benefits for teaching flash-length pieces to writing students. To…

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Poet Sawsan Al-Areeqe on the Best and Worst of Being a Poet in Yemen and Why You Should Read Ali al-Muqri

Originally posted on Arabic Literature (in English):

While she was in Iowa City, participating in the International Writing Program (IWP)’s fall 2013 residency, Yemeni poet and filmmaker Sawsan Al-Areeqe spoke with the program’s “On the Map” series. The video interview was recently released on YouTube :

sawsanAl-Areeqe is the author of three poetry collections, The Square of Pain (2007), More Than Necessary (2004), and What if My Blood Turned Into Chocolate (2011). She is the winner of the British Council’s 2010 Zoom Film Contest for her short Prohibited, and of the Special Jury Prize at the 2012 Meknes International Film Festival for her short Photo.

On the Map: The best thing and worst thing about being a writer in your country?

Sawsan al-Areeqe: I cannot say either a best or worst, because writers develop a state of alientation from their environment. At the beginning of hteir writing career. As a writer, I learn to reprogram my relationship with…

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