Category Archives: Interviews

Eerie Changes in Emotional Timbre: Adam Morris on Translating João Gilberto Noll

By Nathan Scott McNamara

Brazilian writer João Gilberto Noll’s Atlantic Hotel is a surreal journey — by bus, foot, and wheelchair — around southern Brazil. The pages fly past in this short novel; the narrator travels from a murder scene in a hotel, to the beach, to a brothel, and through an apocalyptic storm, before waking up to the amputation of his own leg. And that’s just in the first half of this 140-page book. Continue reading

Ariel Levy and the Human Female Animal Experience

By Eleanor Duke

The best way to read Ariel Levy’s memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply, is to barrel along with her at full-speed, not stopping for breath or losing momentum, until you emerge at the other end windswept, tears in your eyes from both laughing and crying, and cursing yourself for reading too quickly. It is a captivating story about the grief of losing the irreplaceable — a son, a spouse, a home — and the jarring realization that nothing can immunize us to the forces of nature, relationships, or the human body. Continue reading

On China’s Great Books: An Interview with Frances Wood

By Paul French

Retirement from her post as the Curator of Chinese Collections at the British Library in London seemingly hasn’t done much to slow down Frances Wood’s output. She’s never been anything less than prodigious, and she has now assembled a collection of writing from China, going as far as 1,000 BCE and the anonymous Book of Songs (Shi jing) and finally finishing with Dai Houying’s Stones of the Wall (1981), which set during the Cultural Revolution. Titled Great Books of China: From Ancient Times to the Present (published by BlueBridge in the U.S. and Head of Zeus in the U.K.), her latest work contains over 60 excerpts, presented in rough chronological order, from novels, poems and philosophical works, each introduced by Wood to set them in context and explain their importance. The collection is at once a serious study of the progression of Chinese writing for the scholar and, for those less scholarly inclined, a fine miscellany to dip into at random given a free hour and a glass of something warming. Continue reading

Lost Girls: A Conversation About Fantastical Filmmaker Jean Rollin

By Ian MacAllister McDonald

If you were a horror fan back in the late ‘90s or early aughts then you may be familiar with the UK distributor Redemption Films, which specializes in movies with titles like Nude For Satan, The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine, and The Rape of the Vampire. As a teenager, I was more interested in the Evil Deads and Re-Animators of the world and less in Redemption’s output; it wasn’t until recently that I gave them another look, and in so doing, discovered the hypnotic, strangely beautiful world of Jean Rollin. Continue reading

Stories Like a Bullet: An Interview with Osama Alomar

By Sam Jaffe Goldstein                                                         

Who among us is not spending most of her time trying to understand the complexities of the times? How can we even begin to grapple with it all? Is comprehension even possible? Osama Alomar’s very short stories (or in Arabic, “al-qisa al-qasira jiddan”) do not offer answers. What they do provide is a necessary reminder of the importance of protecting the human spirit — a worthy touchstone, when confronting darkness. Continue reading

Swimming in Hong Kong: An Interview with Stephanie Han

By Susan Blumberg-Kason

I met Stephanie Han at a literary event in Hong Kong back in 2014, but we didn’t get much of a chance to talk due to traffic delays, linked to the Umbrella Movement’s ongoing occupation of the financial district, making me arrive late. We connected a few months later when I Skyped into a memoir-writing class she was teaching on Lantau Island in Hong Kong. I only really got to know her, though, via a different sort of virtual encounter: reading and becoming absorbed by Swimming in Hong Kong, her new collection of short stories. Comprised of tales that previously appeared in periodicals and anthologies, it is published by Willow Springs Press. Here are some questions I emailed her, along with the answers she sent back. Continue reading

Awakening, Returning, and Looking Forward: An Interview with Ian Johnson

By Ting Guo

It is March in Beijing. Many local friends tell me that it is the loveliest month here, as one can see, smell, and feel the change of seasons coming after a long smoggy winter: The day is warm and the golden sunlight streams brilliantly on a blue sky — so blue that it seems as if it had been washed by the Dragon King, the deity for water and weather in Chinese folk beliefs. Plum and apricot blossoms and willows glow with life. Indeed, the divide between all the four seasons is more distinct here in the north than in Jiangnan, the southern region by the Yangtze River where I grew up, echoing loudly the 24 solar terms. After the Rain Water (yushui 雨水) reaches Equinox, then it arrives Clear and Bright (qingming 清明), the day when people sweep the graves of their ancestors. Ancient solar terms such as these figure centrally in Ian Johnson’s new book, Souls of China, which includes sections named for them, one of the first things that intrigued me about his approach to the topic of the revival of religion in the PRC. Continue reading

Un-treasured Time: A Conversation with Phil Elverum

By Cypress Marrs

In my mind, Phil Elverum is a man who needs no introduction.

I met Phil probably in 1997. I would have been four or five and he, a teenager, was recording music in K Records’ Dub Narcotic Studio, which, as it happened, was across the hall from my artist mother’s studio. As I was scurrying around the building’s dusty halls and trying to make shoes out of construction paper, Phil was recording atmospheric songs on a 16-track about landscape and longing. Continue reading

“Take it Seriously”: An Interview with Ecologist and Author Daniel Botkin

By Sam Ribakoff

Daniel Botkin is a world-renowned ecologist and professor emeritus at UC Santa Barbara’s school of Environmental Studies, who has worked on many conservation efforts around the world, including at California’s Mono Lake and Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park. He’s also a published author with a knack for poetic titles; The Moon in the Nautilus Shell, Discordant Harmonies, and Beyond the Stoney Mountains all invoke the beauty and complexity of nature and the environment. Continue reading

Youth, Creativity, and Other Women: An Interview with Nicola Maye Goldberg

By Sophie Browner

Nicola Maye Goldberg’s new book, Other Women, is a delicate, feminine bildungsroman that follows a young woman from New York City to Berlin and back again. The protagonist — nameless, sensitive, brilliant — wanders in a ghostly fashion through the city streets, reflecting on her life and the decisions she has made. Other Women is a brilliant little novel (little in physicality and length at 164 pages), brimming with obsession, vulnerability, and heartbreak. It is at once dark and bright — morbid without being turgid, specific without being pretentious. Continue reading