Cyan James earned her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she taught composition and creative writing classes. She’s now departing Michigan for the University of Washington in Seattle, where she’s earning a Ph.D in public health genetics. In addition to three Hopwood awards, her writing has also earned her several other prizes and residences, including the opportunity to attend Breadloaf as a dancing waiter. She sometimes publishes poems, essays, book reviews, and short stories in places like Blackbird Review, the Michigan Quarterly Review, Harvard Review, Arkansas Review, and the Barcelona Review; right now the main thing she’s writing is a novel about a commune where people go to get sick. Books she recommends are Under the Volcano, As I Lay Dying, and The Moviegoer.
Ever wish your problems would disappear? Jessica Gregson’s history-laced debut (released this week in the U.S. by Soho Press) follows a village of Hungarian women who “make angels” of abusive husbands. But it doesn’t end there. Yank on your rain boots and follow her into a complicated rural wasteland for a bracing read.
Though not uniquely British, the notion that humans seem fated to eradicate themselves—like moths flinging themselves into the flame of Apocalypse—certainly has a long history in The Isles. British historian and journalist A.J.P. Taylor warns, “Human blunders usually do more to shape history than human wickedness.” H.G. Wells rasps, “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” And Jeanette Winterson has now penned The Stone Gods.
Hundehoved. See, it sounds a little more haunted, a little more rhythmic, a little more intense in Danish. But the English “Doghead” sounds good, too: blunt and pragmatic, both mysterious and common as dirt. Come to think of it, mystery and the commonplace both pervade Doghead(Thomas Dunne Books, 2009, trans. Tiina Nunnally), a Scandinavian saga obsessed with the convoluted telling of what goes awry in the gnarled branches of the Erikkson family tree.
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