The dead: On writing a thriller set in the rock world

by Christine Sneed

I met Sarah Tomlinson last year in Los Angeles at a book event for a mutual friend. It was an unseasonably cool night, but spirits were high—our friend’s book was doing well, and it was almost summer. After the reading, Sarah and I had a long, discursive conversation about film, TV shows, and books. During our chat, I learned that after working as a music critic in Boston, Sarah had moved to Southern California in the mid-aughts and transitioned to ghostwriting. She has published more than twenty books as a ghostwriter, and has also written a memoir, Good Girl (2015), […]

Continue Reading

Eye on AI: A Q&A with Nina Schuyler

by Laura Cogan

In her suspenseful and thought-provoking new novel, Afterword, Nina Schuyler’s characters struggle to know themselves even as they push technology to the edge of human understanding. A brilliant mathematician, Virginia Samson has spent her life painstakingly re-creating her great love, Haru, in the form of an AI. Into this advanced technology she’s built Haru’s voice, memories, and intellectual curiosity. But while she had hoped to spend the rest of her days companionably discussing math with Haru, their interactions soon force Virginia to confront how much she has never understood about Haru, and about herself. Schuyler, who lives in the Bay […]

Continue Reading

The malleability of memory: A conversation with Mary Otis

by Laura Cogan

In her debut novel, Burst, Mary Otis traces the tumultuous lives and conflicted bond of a mother and daughter navigating the world without a robust community or safety net: they are “alone but together.” Charlotte’s eccentric, sometimes erratic behavior both enchants and repels her daughter, Viva, who seeks structure and security through a single-minded dedication to her passion for dance. But this mother-daughter duo is more alike—and more connected—than they can sometimes understand, and Otis locates the poignancy of their parallel lives with insight and compassion. Moving seamlessly between perspectives and over years, Burst elegantly examines the complexity of this […]

Continue Reading

‘The epic nature of our own stories’: A conversation with Héctor Tobar

by John McMurtrie

Héctor Tobar has explored Latin American history and the Latino experience in numerous award-winning best-selling works, ranging from novels (The Last Great Road Bum, The Barbarian Nurseries, and The Tattooed Soldier) to nonfiction books (Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free and Translation Nation: Defining a New American Identity in the Spanish-Speaking United States). Tobar has also published fiction and nonfiction in Zyzzyva. In his latest book, Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of “Latino,” Tobar delves with great candor […]

Continue Reading

Q&A with Karin Lin-Greenberg, author of ‘You Are Here’

by Valerie Braylovskiy

Karin Lin-Greenberg’s first novel, You Are Here (288 pages; Counterpoint Press), tells the story of how five lives intersect within a suburban mall that is about to shut down. The characters are seemingly unrelated in their identities and experiences, ranging from Ro—an old woman whose regrets make her bitter—to Jackson, a young boy with aspirations of becoming a magician. Greenberg not only employs a strong sense of place to connect their experiences but uses the common thread of struggling with one’s dreams and reality. Embracing everyday aspects of life, the book provides a blueprint on how community can be fostered […]

Continue Reading

Q&A with Brianna Craft, author of ‘Everything That Rises’

by Zoe Binder

            In Brianna Craft’s new book, Everything That Rises: A Climate Change Memoir (288 pages; Lawrence Hill Books), a young environmentalist working for the United Nations gives a raw and grounded account of what it’s like to intern for an international organization. In 2012, Craft worked for the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCC) Adaptation Program. She would later go on to witness the establishment of the 2015 Paris Agreement. She currently supports the Least Developed Countries at the UNFCCC’s negotiations. Craft’s memoir shows that the negotiations that decide our future are in the hands of real people, and […]

Continue Reading

Q&A with Eileen Myles: Unwrapping time

by Valerie Braylovskiy

Poetry can encompass many shapes and qualities, including the singular capacity to open new pathways of understanding ourselves. A poet who achieves this feat is unafraid to take risks and question the quotidian. Eileen Myles has consistently been one of those poets. Myles’ newest poetry collection, a “Working Life” (Grove Atlantic Press, 267 pages), is perhaps their deepest and most personal exploration of what it means to be human. Myles says that “maybe time is the real subject of language,” and uses temporality to explore personal and public moments within a broader sociopolitical landscape. Born in Boston and now living […]

Continue Reading

Q&A with Madelaine Lucas: ‘Thirst for Salt’ and the Roots of Desire

by Valerie Braylovskiy

Madelaine Lucas’s first novel, Thirst for Salt (272 pages; Tin House Books), centers on an unnamed female narrator and her love for an older man, offering profound reflections on how the absence of affection can still take up space in one’s life. Throughout the story, notions of desire are uprooted by the impermanence of relationships, places, and the self. Lucas writes with a poetic precision that captures the sharp and mellow edges of love, as well as its intersections with grief. Born in Australia, Lucas now lives in New York, where she is senior editor of the literary magazine NOON […]

Continue Reading

Q&A with Colin Winnette: ‘Users’ and the Underbelly of Tech

by Charlie Barton

Colin Winnette’s latest novel, Users (271 pages; Soft Skull Press), is much less about virtual reality than the creative minds behind it. The protagonist Miles works at a VR firm as the lead creative and is tasked with hatching up new ideas for future products. He’s well-respected and well-paid, the creator of Ghost Lover, a popular simulation in which the user is haunted by a former flame. His personal life, however, is much less secure: his marriage is precarious, and his children can be difficult and unrelatable. Miles’s anxiety is spurred by the arrival of death threats. But the pressure […]

Continue Reading

Q&A with Rebecca Foust: ‘Only’ & Communicating Across the Centuries

by Meryl Natchez

I first met Rebecca Foust when we worked together for Marin Poetry Center starting in 2014. Foust is the author of seven poetry collections, including The Unexploded Ordnance Bin, Paradise Drive, All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song, and God, Seed. Her work has received the  2020 Pablo Neruda Award, the 2017 CP Cavafy Award,  and the 2016 James Hearst Poetry Prize, and was runner up for the 2022 Missouri Review Editor’s Prize. In 2017 she was appointed Marin County Poetry Laureate. I have been intrigued by her new book of poems, Only (Four Way Books 2022; 88 pages), a varied, tender, […]

Continue Reading

Q&A with Tayi Tibble

by Craig Santos Perez

Tayi Tibble, whose first book of poems, Poūkahangatus, was published by Knopf this year, is an exciting and essential voice of the next generation of Pacific Islander authors. Of indigenous Māori descent, Tibble grew up in Porirua, north of Wellington in Aotearoa (New Zealand), where Poūkahangatus was first published by Victoria University Press in 2018. (Her poetry also appeared in ZYZZYVA No. 123.) The concept of whakapapa—the Māori term for genealogy—is an important part of her collection. More than a simple list of names, whakapapa is a core element of mātauranga Māori, or traditional Māori knowledge. It articulates the living […]

Continue Reading

A Conversation with Kathryn Ma

by John McMurtrie

The title of Kathryn Ma’s new novel, The Chinese Groove, refers to one young man’s fanciful term for a silent understanding that he believes unites Chinese people across borders and throughout generations. This code, he is convinced, is what will guide him as he leaves behind a life of poverty in Yunnan Province and embarks

Subscribers only: to access this content, you must be a member of ZYZZYVA Studio. Membership is included with any subscription. Subscribe today, or if you are already a subscriber, log in to continue reading. (Read our FAQ for more details, and contact us if you have any trouble logging in.)

[…]

Continue Reading