Rita Indiana’s novel, “Papi,” translated by Achy Obejas, is entering the American literary scene at a ripe moment for fiction in translation. A famously cited statistic says that only three percent of the books published in the United States are translations, compared with sixteen percent in France or a colossal thirty percent in Poland. However, works of literary fiction in translation have been appearing regularly on the bestseller lists since the 2012 publication of the first of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series and its intimate, visceral description of women grappling with male-dominated violence and class struggle. Read the rest of this entry »
The Journey, the Perceptions and the Fakery of Nostalgia: Discussing “The Miles Between Me” with Toni NealieAuthor Profiles, Chicago Authors, Chicago Publishers, Essays, Genres No Comments »
By Amy Danzer
This month, Newcity’s literary editor Toni Nealie releases her debut collection of lyrical essays, entitled “The Miles Between Me.” The essays investigate family mythologies from India and England to New Zealand, Canada and the United States. They explore the range of emotions Nealie experiences as she navigates new landscapes, neighbors and family dynamics, as well as different ways to pass the time, measure distance, travel post-9/11 and deal with loss. Nealie, spurred by her journalistic instinct, infuses the essays with delicious morsels of fascinating facts; her unique vantage point offers fresh perspective on the familiar; and her love of language makes the essays a sheer pleasure to read. I recently had the chance to ask Nealie several questions about her essays via email.
Can you say a little something about the inception of “The Miles Between Me”—what informed the framing of the book?
Moving with my family from Aotearoa New Zealand to the United States weeks before 9/11 flipped my life topsy-turvy. It upended every idea I held about society and myself. All my scaffolding was gone. As a journalist, I had told other people’s stories, but reportage couldn’t get to the heart of my questions. Essaying allowed me to make sense of political and private events. Personal and lyric essays led me to reflect on home, journey and migration. I could ferret out disruptive ideas about parenthood, marriage, race and family history—poking at imagined truths and scratching away at unreliable memories. I could digress and meander and explore without being forced to take a position. Distance and isolation gave me an opportunity to ponder ideas about our flimsy construction of self and our deceptive sense of control. Read the rest of this entry »
Review: “Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres” Edited by Marcela Sulak and Jacqueline KolosovBook Reviews, Chicago Publishers No Comments »
“Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres, ” is a collection of hybrid literature that provides a starting point for discussing and teaching “individual works that do not replicate any previously existing pattern of literary affiliation. Rather, they take features from multiple parents—multiple genres—and mix them to create a new entity.”
“Family Resemblance” is an excellent instruction guide, an exploration of hybrid literature, and an inspiration for writing students and writers in general. Read the rest of this entry »
Review: “City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness” edited by Gavin Van Horn and David AftandilianChicago Publishers No Comments »
“City Creatures, ” edited by Gavin Van Horn and David Aftandilian, is an outstanding compilation of essays, poetry, photographs and art that describes the Chicago area’s ecosystem, encouraging us to take a closer look at our environment. After finishing this book, among the questions one asks is how can we take better, more proactive care of the natural world that’s intertwined throughout our urban infrastructure and how can we enjoy that world more fully? Read the rest of this entry »
By Zhanna Slor
I’ve never thought much about voiceover. Then, a few months ago, I saw Lake Bell’s movie “In a World,” and was quite impressed with it. And even more recently, I happened upon Dave Reidy’s forthcoming novel, “The Voiceover Artist,” a story about a boy with a stutter who dreams about doing voiceover work for commercials. Suddenly I found myself quite drawn into this uncommon world, and wondering about what attracts a person to voiceover narration. So I asked Dave Reidy about it. Read the rest of this entry »
“Grant Park,” the third novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. centers around Malcolm Toussaint, a black newspaper columnist who has consciously decided to torpedo his career by sneaking a vehement screed into the newspaper on the day of the 2008 presidential election, announcing his exasperation with white America. Read the rest of this entry »
Mairead Case’s debut novel, “See You in the Morning” is a moving and tenderhearted portrait of a teenager in the summer before her senior year of high school. The girl is acutely aware that this summer will mark the end to the way things have been: “This summer is the last one nobody really cares about. I keep wishing I could hold it, hold on to not having to make anything up so people will like me, hire me, kiss me, or whatever.” But of course the summer rushes on and she, along with her two friends, John and Rosie, find themselves growing in different ways.
The narrator spends her days working at the local big box bookstore, going to punk shows with her friends, hanging out with her eccentric neighbor Mr. Green, and attending church with her mother. She also spends much of her time ruminating on her feelings for her friend John, believing she may be in love with him. Read the rest of this entry »
Nonfiction Review: “Behind the Smile: A Story of Carol Moseley Braun’s Historic Senate Campaign” by Jeannie MorrisBiography, Book Reviews, Chicago Authors, Chicago Publishers, Nonfiction No Comments »
“The year of the woman,” 1992, was a time of idealism and anger brought to the fore after the 1991 Senate confirmation of Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. A Judiciary Committee of white men concluded that Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment against Thomas were insignificant. Illinois democrats and progressive women were infuriated that Democratic Senator Alan J. Dixon had voted for Thomas’ confirmation. Carol Moseley Braun decided to challenge Dixon, and the account of her 1992 campaign as described by Jeannie Morris in “Behind the Smile” is riveting.
University of Chicago Law graduate, Cook County Recorder of Deeds at the time of her campaign, divorced, a single mother and a feminist fighting to be taken seriously in a man’s world, Braun represented the challenges women of all backgrounds face. EMILY’S List provided her with the first significant campaign donation. A good beginning, except that menacing clouds were forming in the shape of Braun’s campaign manager and eventual boyfriend, Kgosie Matthews. While controversies arose during Braun’s campaign, allegations of sexual harassment against Matthews sent to Braun in an anonymous letter could have ruined her; sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas had brought Braun into the limelight to begin with. Read the rest of this entry »
Fifteen years ago, Elizabeth Taylor and Adam Cohen collaborated to bring us “American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation.” The duo, each widely accomplished in their own right have reunited with the creation of the website, The National Book Review. Read the rest of this entry »
Nonfiction Review: “The Little Magazine in Contemporary America” edited by Ian Morris and Joanne DiazAnthologies, Chicago Authors, Chicago Publishers No Comments »
Starting a little magazine is like embarking on parenthood: Its founders begin with a vision, with no idea as to what it truly takes to raise their baby to adulthood, day by day. These projects are often birthed in basements, borrowed apartments and coffee shops, on shoestring budgets scraped together through small loans, donations or academic largess that these days could not feel smaller. Their goal is to make public exceptional new work by established and emerging writers. What results, in some cases, is nothing short of spectacular. In “The Little Magazine in Contemporary America” edited by Ian Morris and Joanne Diaz, twenty-three editors of influential little magazines, many still in circulation and others that have run their course, reveal the hardships and gifts inherent in creating and producing these journals. Read the rest of this entry »