World History from a New Angle

The earth is a very big place. Yes, it may be growing a bit smaller. (Google “shrinking globe” and you’ll find dozens of essays about how interconnected we all are.) But world history projects reveal just how illusory this globalization is. Each country, each region, each town has its own story. Weaving the stories together…

Homegoing | Books and Culture

The opening pages of Homegoing—Ghanaian American Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel—start a fire in Ghana that burns, one way or another, for more than two hundred years. Effia Otcher is born the same night this sudden conflagration destroys seven of her father’s yams and burns all the way from Fanteland into Asanteland, where a half-sister whom…

How to Catch an Eel

Though novelists Gina Ochsner and Paula Huston first met only five years ago, they’ve developed the kind of friendship that usually takes decades to mature. Both mentors in Seattle Pacific University’s MFA in Creative Writing Program, they’ve shared quarters every winter and summer during ten-day residencies on Whidbey Island and at St. John’s College in…

Mercy Now | Books and Culture

We rarely need excuses to read novels as autobiographical. It’s easier, after all, to believe that whatever in a fiction smacks of truth—the way a marriage’s arguments skip and warp, for example, or the lesson that we pay for being known in the coin of embarrassment—must borrow from some ready-to-hand reality. Jonathan Safran Foer has…

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