By thecolumbiareview

Sunday Staff Picks: October 25th

White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia by Kiki Petrosino Kiki Petrosino’s White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia starts with a stunning prelude, in which the reader, absorbed into the second person speaker, is taken on a chase sequence through a moving train.  Engaging – in pursuit? combat? collaboration? – with the speaker’s ancestors, the poem ends with a ghostly image and then an utterance “O- / you begin.” So the book begins. Petrosino orbits topics of ancestry, and history, all while constructing one of the strongest arguments in favor of form in recent years. The text is interspersed with erasures (similar to the Petrosino…

Sunday Staff Picks: October 18th

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s The Discomfort of Evening, winner of this year’s International Booker Prize, begins with loss: the elder son of the Mulder family, Matthies, drowns in a tragic skating accident, leaving his family to contend with his death and attempt to distribute the loss between themselves. The novel is narrated by his ten-year old sister, Jas, who takes on the role of translator for her family’s grief. Through her stark observations, we witness the slow unraveling of a family unit set against the bleak landscape of their farm in the conservative…

Sunday Staff Picks: October 11th

Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country by Cristina Rivera Garza Earlier this week, Mexican author Cristina Rivera Garza was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Grant. A writer of enormous talent and erudition, Garza is also the author of the most fascinating book I read this year. Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country is a collection of short forms that circle issues of state violence in contemporary Mexico. Garza’s project investigates the fault lines between the political and the personal, the body of the collective and the body of the individual. In attempting to write on, or through, this subject, Garza takes…

Making It Plausible: A Conversation With Andrew Martin

Cool for America / Andrew Martin / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 07/2020 – $27 (Hardcover) Interview conducted by David Ehmcke I first encountered Andrew Martin’s remarkable fiction after the publication of his fabulous first novel Early Work. Since then, I’ve been anticipating the publication of his short story collection, Cool for America, in which he assembles…

Jihyun Yun: On Food and the Language of Intimacy

An interview conducted by Maddie Woda Jihyun Yun was first published in The Columbia Review‘s 100th Volume with her piece, “The Leaving Season.” Yun’s writing uses food—its preparation, consumption, and cultural significance—to reflect on themes like womanhood and familial grief. Her first book of poetry (which includes “The Leaving Season”) won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize…

Close Reading Series: Sofia Montrone on “(46)” and “(47)”

The Close Reading Series invites our board editors to write about a favorite piece from our Spring 2020 issue. These readings are not intended to be definitive interpretations; when we read, we bring with us our own histories, experiences, and references, all of which guide our relationship to the work before us. It is possible,…

Close Reading Series: Spencer Grayson on “Newly, rendered, truly”

The Close Reading Series invites our board editors to write about a favorite piece from our Spring 2020 issue. These readings are not intended to be definitive interpretations; when we read, we bring with us our own histories, experiences, and references, all of which guide our relationship to the work before us. It is possible,…

Bryn Evans: Weight, Time, & the Afrofuture

AN INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY MORGAN LEVINE Bryn Evans received our Spring 2020 Poetry Prize for her poem “Thotiana’s interlude, or Barbara Mason reconsiders settling down.” Bryn and I called each other from our respective hometowns of Decatur, Georgia and Houston, Texas for this interview, which has been lightly edited for clarity. I’ve been a fan…

Sara Kachelman: On Friendship and the “Old-World Horror” of Climate Change

An interview conducted by Sofia Montrone Sara Kachelman received The Columbia Review’s Spring 2020 Prose Prize for her short story “Friends of the Gyre.” Her story, about a group of people who befriend an enigmatic and terrible storm, first crossed our desk in January, but recent events have imbued the narrative about unlikely social relationships and unbalanced power dynamics with new salience. We were impressed by Sara’s humor, her attention to nature, and her sense of the eerie, and our contest judge, Jordan Kisner, was as well. I caught up with Sara over email last week to discuss her short…