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Lilly Dancyger’s Negative Space

Negative Space, Lilly Dancyger’s part-memoir, part-art criticism debut in which a bildungsroman-esque narrative of the author’s journey from “a fatherless girl” to “a fatherless woman” is braided with an investigation into her deceased father’s art, as well as his past.

Mihaela Moscaliuc’s Cemetery Ink

By her own admission, she is neither an American nor Romanian writer, citing instead her identity as an immigrant poet. This is not some superficial pose. On every page of Cemetery Ink, Moscaliuc keeps one foot in both worlds, laying claim to neither, yet sensitive to the rhythms and nuances of lives lived there—and throughout the globe.

John Domini’s The Archeology of a Good Ragù

Domini brings the tools of a master craftsman and an astonishing depth of knowledge to his quarry in The Archeology of a Good Ragù, a chronicle stark in its candor and savory in its lore.

Caleb Azumah Nelson’s Open Water

Caleb Azumah Nelson’s first novel is a short, introspective love story told around the conflict bubbling inside a young Black man who tries to examine and understand love, fear, and trauma amid the racism in south-east London.

Rachel Cusk’s Second Place

How do you resist reading a story that begins with its narrator talking about meeting the devil on a train leaving Paris?

Matt Bell’s Appleseed

Yes, this is climate fiction at its core—a sci-fi sub-genre that seems to be everywhere at this moment—but there’s an unabashed earnestness to Appleseed, a love even, for the natural world, that combines with Bell’s lush prose to make this book much more than simple cli-fi, to turn it into a sort of love song for our dying world. Like any good love song, Appleseed is part, or perhaps even mostly, tragedy.

In Conversation

David Winner with Joan Marcus

David Winner’s darkly satirical third novel, Enemy Combatant, takes us to the Caucasus region during the second Bush administration, where longtime friends set off on a misguided mission to infiltrate a CIA secret prison. The action is propulsive, the narrative surreal and deeply unnerving. Haunted by recent loss, adrift in an unfamiliar land, the character’s desperate moves unwind hypnotically, their consequences in turns tragic and absurd.

In Conversation

Hanif Abdurraqib with Eric Farwell

I first came across the work of Hanif Abdurraqib when I needed it most. I had been reviewing books I found underwhelming or outright forgettable, and I missed so badly the magic of reading someone you feel both isn’t wasting your time and on your wavelength. A friend of mine express-mailed a copy of They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us (2017), and it relit the fire in me that loves criticism and cultural discussions. More importantly, it reminded me how great music was; and since music was the very first thing that had saved my life and set me on my path, it was more of a gift than I can articulate.

Nicole Krauss’s To Be a Man

Nicole Krauss’s latest book, To Be a Man, is the author’s very first short story collection. As the title suggests, each story incorporates an awareness of masculinity and all its power, while relating to the roles of women. But the collection isn’t merely about driving one gender against the other. There’s much more to it than that. Each story provides a sense of connection between real people and their everyday lives, much like the author’s former books, including the William Saroyan International Prize Winner, The History of Love.

In Conversation

Caitlin Horrocks with Joseph Scapellato

I’ve never met Caitlin Horrocks in person—more than once, we’ve almost met. Even so, I know her well enough to understand that in addition to being a celebrated top-notch writer of fiction, she’s also a deeply beloved member of the writing community—a dedicated teacher, advocate, and literary citizen.

In Conversation

Adele Bertei with Luc Sante

Luc Sante and Adele Bertei met in 1977 while both were working at the Strand Bookstore, which at the time was a kind of hub of the No Wave. They have remained friends ever since, although Bertei removed to the west coast while Sante stayed in the east. Sante wrote books; Bertei sang in arenas, acted and directed, and wrote books. The two had a conversation about gender, class, vocal stylings, and outer and inner space. Their most recent offerings are Sante”s Maybe the People Would Be the Times, and Bertei’s Why Labelle Matters


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2021

All Issues