Lisa Ko’s The Leavers and the Devastation of the Deportation Machine

By Louise McCune

An interactive map on The GEO Group’s website bears 74 green dots. These represent the 74 for-profit correctional facilities — which house 80,566 incarcerated people — under the company’s purview in the United States. The green dots are spread widely. The shores of Puget Sound on the West coast and those of Chesapeake Bay on the East are comparably adorned. But the green dots do seem subject to some sort of latitudinal gravity; their numbers swell in the southern states, near the border with Mexico and the Gulf. Continue reading

Best of April

Dearest supporters, readers, and friends:

They say April is the coolest month. (That’s how it goes, right?) Well it was pretty cool over here at LARB, where we spent the month gabbing about movies, politics, music, art, and of course, good ol’ paper books. We present to you the Best of April; at least, according to us, your friends at the Los Angeles Review of Books. Continue reading

Western Avenue: How Korean Cinema Portrayed the 1992 Los Angeles Riots

By Colin Marshall

The Korean name of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, sa-i-gu (사이구), means “four, two, nine” — or rather 4/29, the first of the six days they tore through streets after the the Rodney King verdict came out. Given Los Angeles’ large Korean population, the highest of any city outside the Korean Peninsula itself, and the fact that its Korean-owned stores took so much of the damage, the Korean media granted this unrest on the other side of the Pacific the importance of a domestic disaster, flying at least 30 journalists straight over to interpret the chaos for the dismayed and bewildered audience back home. The very next year, Korean cinema, enjoying a 1990s resurgence after a couple decades spent losing out to foreign (and especially Hollywood) imports, came out with its first and still only statement on the riots: Western Avenue. Continue reading

Leonora Carrington’s Hellish Playgrounds

By Nathan Scott McNamara

Leonora Carrington’s stories are whimsical nightmares in the spirit of the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. A man rides a happy cadaver to search for his lost love. A hyena kills a maid and wears her face to a fancy ball. A priest gifts a pork chop to a woman during a game of bridge. “The chop, which had undoubtedly spent a very long time near the ecclesiastic’s stomach didn’t appeal to me,” the woman says. It oozes “horrible blobs of grease” between her fingers, and she sneaks out to the yard to try (unsuccessfully) to bury it. Continue reading

Finding Mercy in Merciless Times

By David Kyuman Kim

“We forgive him.” “I have no animosity in my heart for him.” This is what the family of Robert Godwin Sr. said to Anderson Cooper on CNN two days after Steve Stephens murdered their father on Easter and broadcasted the awful act on Facebook. The shock of seeing a murder on social media was only surpassed by the moral witness of a grieving family saying “We forgive.” The expressions of forgiveness and mercy would be astonishing arguably at any time, but in this American moment, one rife with animosity, hatred, and the dramatic resurgence in racially-motivated crimes, forgiveness comes as a shock to an unforgiving system. 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