Part of a Deer

by Lucy Corin

Here it was suddenly ninety degrees, and across the country it was suddenly frozen. I’d been texting about it with Basil all morning, getting my stuff together for running errands. In the car, I swapped into my sunglasses, setting everything up to follow the driving instructions I’d texted to myself by trying to balance the

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‘Nightcrawling’ by Leila Mottley: Oakland on Its Own Terms

by Emily Garcia

Kiara Johnson, the scrappy protagonist of Leila Mottley’s transfixing first novel, Nightcrawling (288 pages; Knopf), lives in East Oakland, in an apartment complex called the Regal-Hi, where money is sparse and trauma is abundant. Kiara’s father died years before; her mother’s currently in a halfway house following a prison stint; and her older brother, Marcus, who is also her legal guardian (Kiara is seventeen when the novel begins), is pursuing a rap career in lieu of a job that might help pay the rent—which has also recently more than doubled. Beyond her fears of eviction and homelessness, Kiara is pulled […]

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Watch Our Booksmith Event for Issue 123: The Poetry Issue

by ZYZZYVA Staff

In case you missed it: you can now watch our recorded live event with The Booksmith from last week! This event celebrated the launch of Issue 123, the Poetry Issue. Enjoy readings by contributors Colin Winnette, Heather Altfeld, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Troy Jollimore, and Victoria Chang. The event was emceed by Zyzzyva’s Managing Editor, Oscar Villalon. You can watch it via the embedded video below. […]

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Q&A with Lou Mathews: ‘Shaky Town’ and the Way It Was

by Oscar Villalon

One of the best books of fiction to have come out in recent memory is award-winning author Lou Mathew’s novel in stories, Shaky Town (246 pages; Tiger Van Books). Published nearly a year ago, it is one of those rare works that carries an assuring integrity, showing evidence of a writer who understands the bafflement that is the human condition and has the capacity to articulate inchoate sadness and hurt and anger. In Mathews’ case, it is the thoughts and travails of working-class Los Angeles that interest him. Many of his characters are lower middle-class Mexican Americans, a community to […]

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Q&A with Staci Greason: ‘All the Girls in Town’ and Making the Grief Bearable

by Christine Sneed

My first encounter with Staci Greason’s writing was in the fall of 2020 after we met at an online feature-script retreat organized by CineStory, a screenwriting-focused arts organization. I read her screenplay Treed and was particularly impressed by her assured comic touch and her ability to write about complex themes—environmental conservation and marital anomie, in this case—without being heavyhanded. She had also written Treed as a novel—albeit with a different title, The Last Great American Housewife. Soon after we met at the retreat, Greason, who has also acted, sold a different novel, All the Girls in Town, to indie publisher […]

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The Whiting Literary Magazine Prize

by ZYZZYVA Staff

Dear Readers, We are elated to announce that ZYZZYVA has received the Whiting Literary Magazine Prize. The Prize is a major validation of the journal’s decades-long work to showcase the most exciting poets, writers, and artists from our home region, as well as from across the country and beyond. “ZYZZYVA has for years been a shepherd to a capacious community of West Coast writers,” the judges’s citation states. “Masterfully edited and sharply cerebral, this place-based journal dazzles readers with formal innovation and an appetite for adventure, diving deeply into its regionality while ushering the world onto its pages. As a […]

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‘Translating Myself and Others’ by Jhumpa Lahiri: A Tradition of the Ages

by Amanda Janks

Human traditions subsist on translation. There is no art or philosophy that translators have not helped facilitate across the ages. While translators may often operate discreetly and without thanks, their work remains vital. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri depicts the soul of translation in her new essay collection, Translating Myself and Others (208 pages; Princeton University Press), a dizzying reflection on her personal relationship to language.  She notes early on the fragmentation of her identity—culturally Indian, born in London, raised in America, writing in English—and the ways this has steered her as a writer. An accomplished author in English, Lahiri […]

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The Poetry Issue: Letter from the Editor

by Laura Cogan

ZYZZYVA No. 123, Spring 2022, The Poetry Issue

Dear Reader, One of the messages we’re most relentlessly bombarded with is the importance of happiness. In so many ways, pop culture cynically suggests that happiness could make us successful, on our own terms. Happiness, it seems, is its own kind of currency. And lack of it becomes yet another reason to punish ourselves. It seems especially cruel that happiness is often elevated as a kind of measure of success that can, theoretically, be achieved, witnessed, and celebrated outside the paradigm of capitalism—as though it’s available to any of us if we only choose it. We absorb the truism that […]

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‘Ante body’ by Marwa Helal: A Window into a Double Life

by Roz Naimi

The latest collection from Egyptian-born, Brooklyn-based poet Marwa Helal, Ante body (80 pages; Nightboat Books), demonstrates the participatory nature of Helal’s work. The book offers a kaleidoscopic window into the double consciousness of the emigré, her post-migratory grief and dispossession, and the cheeky coping mechanisms that come into play. In her exploration of our post-pandemic political moment, Helal harnesses and discharges an energetic exigency, calling the reader into an honest mindfulness through non-traditional and experimental poetic play. Ante body invites us to trip over language, to recover, and view those stumbles as necessary toward achieving wisdom. Whatever linguistic baggage the […]

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On Overturning Roe v. Wade: A Note to our Readers

by Laura Cogan

Dear Readers, We recognize and are heartbroken by the monumental consequences of the Supreme Court’s radical decision to eradicate the federal protection of abortion rights. It is profoundly undemocratic on every level: in its grotesque distortion of the proper role of the Court, in its unjustified incursion on personal freedoms, and in its blatant advancement of minority rule. No state should have the right to force birth. It is subjugation. It is inhumane. It is extremism. Such outrageous incursions into the private healthcare decisions of families and individuals will only compound existing inequities in our country. We are clear-eyed about […]

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Q&A with Editor Natalie Eve Garrett: “The Lonely Stories” & Making Peace with a Solitary Life

by Sophia Carr

Has there ever been a more appropriate time for a chronicle of writers’ individual experiences with the state of being alone than now, in the midst of an isolating and prolonged global pandemic? The Lonely Stories (240 pages; Catupult), edited by Natalie Eve Garrett, gathers essays from a diverse set of acclaimed authors—including Jhumpa Lahiri, Anthony Doerr, Lena Dunham, Maggie Shipstead, and Lev Grossman—and examines everything from struggles with personal demons such as addiction, failed marriages, and the loneliness of being an immigrant facing racial discrimination to  the sense of liberation and creative stimulation that a solitary existence can provide—particularly […]

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