Even though the term dystopian was first coined in the 1740s by historian George Claeys, dystopian fiction novels did not become fully defined until the turn of the twentieth century. Written in 1921, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s social satire We laid the foundations for the genre that is now ubiquitous: dystopian fiction. Zamyatin’s We imagines a future … Continue reading We
Kim Young-ha is an acclaimed writer in Korea. His works have been translated into English and other languages. Diary of a Murderer is a collection of four short stories ranging from suspenseful thrillers to ruminative explorations of human nature. The book opens with a thrilling titular story about a seventy-year old man, Kim Byeongsu, who … Continue reading Diary of a Murderer
When I feel like reading an atmospheric and gritty crime fiction novel, my mind takes me to the cold and snowy landscape that is Scandinavian or Nordic noir. Jane Harper’s gripping debut novel, The Dry, shows that the heat of the Australian outback is as good place as any for a good mystery story. Set … Continue reading The Dry
“History has failed us, but no matter” is the opening line of Min Jin Lee’s novel Pachinko. This sweeping, historical, and immersive family saga delves deeply into the experiences of Korean immigrants in Japan between 1910 and 1989. The story begins in a small fishing village in Yeongdo, Korea. There, we are introduced to fishermen, … Continue reading Pachinko
The creator of the Renegade Mothering blog, Janelle Hanchett, explores motherhood, addiction, and mental illness in her moving memoir, I’m Just Happy to be Here. When she was 21, Janelle Hanchett found herself pregnant. Newly married, Hanchett soon began to struggle with depression and substance abuse issues. Hanchett’s writing is raw and honest—motherhood is not … Continue reading Short Review: I’m Just Happy to be Here
Violence, obsession, and repressed desires are explored in Han Kang’s visceral, vivid, and undeniably compelling The Vegetarian. The story begins simple enough; Yeong-Hye decides to turn vegetarian. Despite her husband’s consternation regarding her decision, Yeong-Hye provides only a vague explanation for her sudden change, “I had a dream.” Unbeknownst to her husband and others around … Continue reading The Vegetarian
Sigrid Nunez' The Friend is a meditation on writing and life.
In Jasmin Darznik's Song of a Captive Bird, she explores the life of Forugh Farrokzhad, one of the great Iranian poets of the 20th century.
Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad is a literal and figurative exploration of the historical Underground Railroad of mid-19th century America.