Issue 1.5

‘Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us’ by Rachel Aviv

FARRAR, STRAUS & GIROUX, SEPTEMBER 2022, 288 PP. WHEN DIAGNOSED WITH a chronic illness, it’s easy to split your life into two periods: prediagnosis and postdiagnosis. Maybe you’ve suffered mysterious symptoms for years, but (finally) having a name for your experience ostensibly gives you a pathway forward. In the last few years, a swell of illness memoirs has described this journey, including Porochista Khakpour’s Sick, Abby Norman’s Ask Me About My Uterus, Lara Parker’s Vagina

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‘Animal Life’ by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, translated by Brian Fitzgibbon

GROVE ATLANTIC, DECEMBER 2022, 192 PP. IN 2013, THE University of Iceland crowned ljósmóðir, a compound of ljós (light) and móðir (mother), the most beautiful word in the Icelandic language. The English word for ljósmóðir is midwife, and that most intimate occupation forms the core of Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir’s latest novel, Animal Life, her seventh to be translated into English—this time, by Brian Fitzgibbon. The premise: It’s late December in Reykjavík, and a massive storm

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‘The Easy Life’ by Marguerite Duras, translated by Emma Ramadan and Olivia Baes

  BLOOMSBURY, DECEMBER 2022, 419 pp. I’ve always found the question of what it is that a character wants very boring and annoying. I’ve heard it asked many times in creative writing workshops when someone, usually a woman (and sometimes that woman is me), has handed in a story where there are lots of pretty sentences that convey a deep emotionality but where nothing in particular happens. The general consensus is that that’s not enough

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‘Our Missing Hearts’ by Celeste Ng

  PENGUIN, OCTOBER 2022, 352 PP. A DYSTOPIA IS an imaginary place where neither you nor I would want to dwell, for it dramatically extends the most painful and dangerous features of the present moment. As such, a dystopia warns us to change the present while we can. The imagined United States of Celeste Ng’s new novel, Our Missing Hearts, has gone through “The Crisis,” a long economic depression that spawned social disruption and crime.

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‘Still Pictures: On Photography and Memory’ by Janet Malcolm

  FARRAR, STRAUS & GIROUX, JANUARY 2023, 176 PP. NO ONE KNOWS why they remember anything. Even the details of a disaster, like your time as a hostage, or the hurricane that swept away your house, may be shrouded in protective amnesia, while you can precisely describe the insignia on a set of buttons you saw when you were four. As Janet Malcolm puts it in her posthumous memoir, Still Pictures: On Photography and Memory,

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