Q&A with R.O. Kwon and Kim Fu: Challenging the Narrative with ‘Kink: Stories’

by Corinne Leong

Sex in literature is the backdrop of the volta, of awakening. Sex represents the moment in which the character most deeply occupies their body, is most aware of their being, whether the experience incites joy or regret. But for all of the artful depictions of sex present in contemporary literature and other media, sexual kink has been largely neglected. The few representations of kink that do exist have assumed an exoticizing, alienating gaze, framing kink as something to be gawked at, commodified, rather than experienced. Editors R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries, and Garth Greenwell, who released his novel Cleanness […]

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Q&A with Garth Greenwell: ‘Cleanness’ and Finding Beauty on the Margins

by Chia-Chia Lin

Garth Greenwell’s celebrated new book, Cleanness (FSG; 240 pages), which follows a gay teacher searching for intimacy and purpose in Bulgaria, is both quiet and explosive. Wherever Greenwell’s attention lands—a hushed conversation, a sexual encounter, a political protest—there’s heat and urgency and a concentrated, almost unbearable feeling of aliveness. Much has been said about the sex scenes in Cleanness; Sheila Heti wrote, “Most American literature seems neutered by comparison.” And it’s true, where so many writers fail or grasp for clichés or simply give up and elide the act of sex, Greenwell zooms in and stays. And stays and stays. […]

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