‘Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century’ by Kim Fu: Surrealism for Our Times

by Maura Krause

As the planet careens into 2022, surrealism might be the best way to capture our psyche. Kim Fu’s first story collection, Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century (220 pages; Tin House Books), makes a convincing argument for such an idea. Without referencing any specific events or cultural moments, the twelve pieces in Fu’s aptly titled fourth book capture a wide swath of modern maladies. In a recent interview with The Rumpus, Fu stated she wanted in her work to take “speculative ideas very seriously and at face value…without a winking eye to metaphor.” Remarkably, she succeeds, avoiding the pitfalls […]

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Q&A with Sindya Bhanoo: ‘Seeking Fortune Elsewhere’ and the Immigrant Story

by Supriya Saxena

Sindya Bhanoo’s story collection, Seeking Fortune Elsewhere (240 pages; Catapult), follows the lives of South Indian immigrants and their families, focusing on the women in these communities and how they deal with the hardships that come their way. While exploring the bitter realities of her characters’ circumstances, Bhanoo captures both the tenacity and tender humanity of her protagonists. Bhanoo’s fiction has appeared in Granta, New England Review, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere. A longtime newspaper reporter, she has worked for The New York Times and The Washington Post. She is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers and lives in […]

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Q&A with Juhea Kim: ‘Beasts of a Little Land’ & Suffering in the Name of Love

by Shelby Hinte

Juhea Kim’s first novel, Beasts of a Little Land (416 pages; Ecco), is an epic tale of occupied Korea that spans nearly five decades. Beginning in 1971, the highly ambitious narrative delves into Korean history and mythology and grapples with the dilemma of seeking meaning in a perilous world. Kim was born in Incheon, Korea , and moved to Portland, Oregon, when she was nine. She is a climate advocate, and her story “Biodome” appeared in ZYZZYVA Issue 120. She recently spoke to ZYZZYVA over Zoom about her new novel, writing compassionately, and suffering for love. The interview has been edited […]

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Six Authors in Search of a Character: Part 3—Irvine Welsh

by Sean Gill

1996 Irvine Welsh is “Mikey Forrester” “I’m playing this drug dealer who’s probably one of the most unsympathetic characters in the book, cause, probably kinda manipulative and nasty and sort of horrible guy so, a lot of people will be saying sort of type-casting again, you know?” —Irvine Welsh, in a video interview from the set of Trainspotting in June 1995 To the strains of Bizet’s Carmen, Renton (Ewan McGregor), a young Edinburger junkie, makes fastidious personal preparations for kicking heroin, the final step of which is obtaining one last hit from his dealer, Mikey Forrester. Mikey appears, smirking like […]

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INTEROFFICE MEMORANDUM 1/3

by Christine Sneed

Date:   January 3rd To:      All Quest Industries Employees From: President Bryan Stokerly, Esq.  Subj:   Welcome Back/In-Office Birthday Celebrations   It’s good to see everyone back in the office again, but it’s obvious very few of us got any better looking in the months we were working from home. Be that as it may, let us hope the year ahead will be an improvement on the last one, which was probably the worst year of my life, but I won’t go into that right now. Today seems an optimal moment to share with you a few preferences regarding in-office […]

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Boxing

by John Freeman

In the waning days of those years in London I took up boxing. I didn’t want to unload on some unsuspecting soul so I found a sparring partner. She turned up, neck tatted, face pierced, dred- locked and strong as hell. A Turkish woman with East London stenciled on her left forearm. Before boxing she

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‘The Hungry and the Lost’ by Bethany W. Pope: Succumbing to the Rot

by Supriya Saxena

Bethany W. Pope’s The Hungry and the Lost (326 pages; Parthian Books; available for order online) offers a rich Southern Gothic tale that revels in the beauty and hostility of the Florida swamplands during the early 20th century. Pope’s immersive language draws the reader in early, but it’s the novel’s social commentary and respect for wilderness that leave a lasting impression. The Florida swampland attracts men who make a living from hunting herons, but after the birds stop coming and tuberculosis breaks out, a (fictional) small town near Tampa is deserted by all but two: the late minister’s mentally unsound wife, […]

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Worries

by Edward Derby

Hungers, germs, personal email gone to SPAM, lost postcards that explained everything, what to do about the weeds in the gravel, catalytic converter theft, a blood stain in a library book (page 17), sock holes, black holes, global warming, automatic subscription renewals, bankruptcy, asteroids, air quality, a helicopter circling the neighborhood, eviction, sagging underwear elastic,

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‘Horses Drawn with Blue Chalk’ by Rocío Ágreda Piérola: Language as an Unlimited Spectrum

by Chiara Bercu

Translated from the Spanish by Jessica Sequeira, Horses Drawn with Blue Chalk (42 pages; Ugly Duckling Presse) is Bolivian poet Rocío Ágreda Piérola’s first English publication, a bilingual presentation of poems from her 2017 chapbook, Detritus, and prose fragments from her working manuscript Quetiapine 400mg. In her introduction, Sequeira aligns the collection with the work of Argentine poets such as Hugo Mujica and Héctor Viel Temperley, situating Horses Drawn with Blue Chalk at the interstice of “carnality, communion and the word.”  The opening excerpts from Ágreda Piérola’s manuscript make a bid for fragmentation as a means of “reconstructing and vanquishing […]

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Six Authors in Search of a Character: Part 2—Richard Wright

by Sean Gill

1951 Richard Wright is “Bigger Thomas” “I became convinced that if I did not write of Bigger as I saw and felt him, if I did not try to make him a living personality and at the same time a symbol of all the larger things I felt and saw in him, I’d be reacting as Bigger himself reacted: that is, I’d be acting out of fear if I let what I thought whites would say constrict and paralyze me…The writing of it turned into a way of living for me…I kept out of the story as much as possible, […]

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‘Psychros’ by Charlene Elsby: Death as the End of Desire

by Shelby Hinte

“The grand philosophical question is whether suicide makes a choice of death, and the answer is yes.” A bold assertion? Maybe. But it is the conclusion Charlene Elsby’s narrator comes to after her boyfriend commits suicide in Elsby’s latest novel, Psychros (140 pages; Clash Press). Psychros is both a philosophical inquiry into the nature of existence and a psychoanalytical study of a woman looking to quell her grief through sex and violence. The death of her boyfriend causes a series of intellectual dilemmas for the narrator: how do you reconcile who a person was in life with how they are […]

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