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Sunday Staff Picks: March 1st

A Sand Book by Ariana Reines Newly crowned winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the dizzying four hundred-page epic A Sand Book by Ariana Reines masterfully takes on issues of spirituality, consumerism, womanhood, and the occult. Moreover, Reines suggests these themes are conjured by the gross deterioration and obfuscation of language at the hand of the immediacy so latent in the digital economies of the contemporary West. In “A Partial History,” Reines writes of these challenging times: “We were lost in a language of images. / It was growing difficult to speak. Yet talk / Was everywhere.” In turns at…

Sunday Staff Picks: February 23rd

The Gilded Auction Block by Shane McCrae Addressing America, Shane McCrae’s speaker in “Everything I Know About Blackness I Learned from Donald Trump” says “even in my dreams I’m in your dreams.” McCrae’s The Gilded Auction Block turns America and the American dream inside out, and in doing so creates a surreal logic—a fractured but incisive way of looking at contemporary America. Although the epigraphs are often quotes from the current political moment, the book undergoes a traditional narrative of katabasis when the speaker descends into Hell to confront a Trumpian figure (among other demons). McCrae’s attention to enjambment, rhythm,…

Sunday Staff Picks: February 9th

Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener Everyone who’s worked in publishing has had the same dream: flee New York, join a tech company, and make barrels more money in an office filled with top-of-the-line snacks and California sunshine. Anna Wiener carries out the dream and chronicles how it dips into the nightmarish in her memoir, Uncanny…

Sunday Staff Picks: January 26th

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado Carmen Maria Machado’s urgent memoir, In the Dream House, confronts the literary archive’s dismissal of her and others’ experiences of psychological abuse in same-sex relationships. Non-queer abuse stories, she shows, have appeared often enough in cultural and literary discourse that they’ve almost become a kind of narrative…

Sunday Staff Picks: Favorites of the Decade

In celebration of the approach of 2020, the Columbia Review staff members use this as an opportunity to look back over the books from the last decade. In alphabetical order by author, these are their selections: The Houseguest and Other Stories by Amparo Dávila, translated by Audrey Harris and Matthew Gleeson (2018) Acerbic and vicious,…

Sunday Staff Picks: December 1st

Further Up the Path by Daniel Oz, translated by Jessica Cohen I cannot decide how one should read Further Up the Path. Daniel Oz’s collection of “flash fables”—short stories, allegories, phrases, and meditations that each take up around half a page—demands to be devoured in one sitting, blending a world that feels both familiar and…

Sunday Staff Picks: November 24th

Slave Play by Jeremy O. Harris Slave Play / Jeremy O. Harris / Golden Theatre to 01/19/2020 What is the correct way to sit and watch a play? How about a highly provocative play centered around “antebellum sexual performance therapy”? Would you, or could you, laugh at a twerking slave? How about a plantation mistress’…

Sunday Staff Picks: November 17th

A Prayer for Travelers by Ruchika Tomar A Prayer for Travelers is an intense and intricate debut novel by Ruchika Tomar. Set in the dusty nowhere towns along the California-Nevada border, the novel follows protagonist Cale Lambert as she tracks her disappeared friend, Penny Reyes, following a shocking assault in the desert. At home, Cale’s…

Sunday Staff Picks: November 10th

Three Summers by Margarita Liberaki, translated by Karen Van Dyck Threes unfurl in the aptly (re)titled Three Summers by Margarita Liberaki, richly translated by Karen Van Dyck. The novel follows three sisters, the fledgling novelist and narrator Katerina, the cool and precise Infanta, and the warm, sensual Maria, over the course of three years (three…