Category Archives: Literature

Barret Baumgart: Navigating Climate Change with a Map of Dead Ends

By Landon Bates

I first met Barret Baumgart in 2007, when we were both undergraduates at U.C. Berkeley. Years later, when I was entering the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program, Barret had just graduated from it. He was waist-deep in the writing of this book. I’d sometimes see him around Iowa City in the evenings, after he’d spent 12 or 14 hours at his computer, having eaten little more than rice covered in barbeque sauce. He’d seem both rundown and wired, high from some discovery he’d made during the day’s research. The product of this labor is China Lake: A Journey Into the Contradicted Heart of a Global Climate Catastrophe. Continue reading

How Fan Yusu Wrote Dignity Back Into Migrants’ Lives

By Ting Guo

Last month, an article written by a migrant worker named Fan Yusu went viral  on Chinese social media. The piece, titled simply “I Am Fan Yusu,” was published by Beijing-based new media outlet NoonStory and recounts Fan’s family life in a small northern Chinese village, as well as her own story of running away to the southern island province of Hainan, returning home, and becoming a country teacher — all by the age of 12 years old. Continue reading

10 Ways to Celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

By Sarah Maugaotega

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month was first celebrated in May of 1990. Since then, the achievements and contributions by these communities have been commemorated each year. An important part of any culture are the stories, legends, and tales that have been carried from generation to generation, which stand as the cornerstone of these cultures and reflect the different histories that have shaped the communities into what they are today. Below is a list of 10 books to read this month (or any month), to learn the history and stories of Asians and Pacific Islanders, and celebrate the authors that write them. Continue reading

Why America Needs A Series of Unfortunate Events Now More than Ever

By AnnaLiese Burich

In today’s political climate, it seems inevitable that the unfortunate can — and will — happen: every day, some fresh horror makes headlines. Trump, in his short time in office, has threatened public school systems, the Affordable Care Act, our already tenuous relationships with other countries. And, worst of all, there is nothing that us innocent civilians can do about it — no matter how unfair it seems. Continue reading

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

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

Female Trouble

By Tausif Noor

Here is an anecdote that sounds like a disclaimer: a year ago, I went out with a writer, who asked on our first date who I’d been reading. I mentioned Ottessa Moshfegh and Mary Gaitskill. His eyes widened. “Veronica is my favorite novel. I once met Mary at a writing retreat. She is unflinching.” I liken the experience to a reverse Bechdel Test of sorts: is it possible for two men discussing Gaitskill to refer to her in terms that don’t indicate their speakers’ own trepidation? Continue reading

Why Does a Historian Write a Memoir?: On Writing Adventures of a Postmodern Historian

By Robert A. Rosenstone

I can’t answer the title question for the other 450 scholars in my profession — the majority in recent decades — who have felt the need to write essays or books about their own lives and careers. For me the process was a long struggle to understand, through the dark and shifting screen of memory, aided by documents and publications, if and how my works of history, written over the last half century, have both reflected and inflected the larger culture. My goal in writing a memoir was not, however, simply to obtain a deeper sense of self-knowledge, but also to share with others the hard-won insights I have earned by researching, thinking, and writing about the past. Continue reading