Suspend Your Disbelief

Natalie Bakopoulos

Contributing Editor

Natalie Bakopoulos is the author of The Green Shore (Simon & Schuster, 2012). Her second novel, Scorpionfish, will be published by Tin House Books in 2020. Her work has appeared in Glimmer Train, Granta, Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mississippi Review, the New York Times, Ninth Letter, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, and the 2010 PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. She is a former Fulbright Scholar (Greece), and has received fellowships from the Camargo Foundation, the Sozopol Fiction Seminars, and the MacDowell Colony. She’s an assistant professor at Wayne State University.


Articles

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Save Harper's Magazine

For the last several months, Harper’s staff, recently unionized, has been in conflict with the magazine’s publisher, John R. “Rick” MacArthur. The disagreements stem from various sources, which have been outlined in two recent articles in New York Magazine, here and here. In short: MacArthur is resistant to other avenues of revenue, including fund raising. Instead, having already cut the size and payroll of the editorial staff, which lost four senior editors and its web editor in 2010, MacArthur is now insisting that it’s necessary to lay off, immediately, two of the magazine’s most experienced editors, one of whom is […]


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The Difference between the Lightning Bug and the Lightning

New South Books, an Alabama publisher, plans to release a version of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn wherein the n-word is replaced by the word “slave.” 219 times. The professor who originally approached the publisher with the idea did so because he himself felt uncomfortable using the word in class. I, of course, feel uncomfortable even writing it out. And if I were teaching Huck Finn, I wouldn’t utter it either, though its presence certainly wouldn’t keep me from teaching the book in the classroom and discussing this discomfort with my students. Needless to say, the release of this […]


Reviews |

In a Strange Room, by Damon Galgut

In a Strange Room ­­chronicles Damon’s travels as he journeys from Greece, to various countries in Africa, to India. Traveling, in general, disorients. We are displaced from our normal locations, we are observing places that are not our own, and our minds constantly compare the new, foreign place with the familiar one.


Reviews |

Sag Harbor, by Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead’s fourth novel, Sag Harbor, is driven not by plot but by time, by the fleetingness of summer and its constant reminder of that fleetingness. The beginning is slow, with the sense of months ahead, time to digress and ponder and imagine and internalize, with the thickest, most dense prose socked in the middle of July, the more desperate, urgent bursts as we careen toward Labor Day. The writing is wonderfully languorous throughout, like summer itself, and a perfect match for adolescence: unrestrained and indulgent but wonderfully self-conscious as well.


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new review on FWR: Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead

a preview: Colson Whitehead’s fourth novel, Sag Harbor, is driven not by plot but by time, by the fleetingness of summer and its constant reminder of that fleetingness. The beginning is slow, with the sense of months ahead, time to digress and ponder and imagine and internalize, with the thickest, most dense prose socked in the middle of July, the more desperate, urgent bursts as we careen toward Labor Day. The writing is wonderfully languorous throughout, like summer itself, and a perfect match for adolescence: unrestrained and indulgent but wonderfully self-conscious as well. Click here to read the whole review […]


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How Fiction Works Discussion Review: "Realism" in Fiction

The chapter/essay of How Fiction Works I found most intriguing was the last one: “Truth, Convention, and Realism”; the issues touched on within could easily be the subject of an entire book. What I find the most perplexing is coming to a definition of “realism” in the first place. Is realism truth? Mimesis? Traditional narration? Wood begins the section by citing the novelist Rick Moody, who says that contemporary literature has become dull and needs “a kick in the ass”; his disapproval seems to be aimed more at structure and style than content. Yes, sometimes a novel’s conflict-climax-resolution check mark […]


Reviews |

Netherland, by Joseph O'Neill

Most reviews of Netherland have focused on the relationship between two main male characters, Chuck and Hans, and on the dramatic and emblematic role of cricket in the novel. Yet a quieter but equally resonant storyline–the unraveling of Hans and Rachel’s marriage–seems to have been labeled by critics as secondary, or even undeveloped. Perhaps this is because so-called important books don’t deal with issues of domesticity and marriage. Or, if they do, we’re quick to give them another, more important label as well: a book about identity, or politics, or globalization, or exile.


Reviews |

Enlightenment, by Maureen Freely

Near the middle of Maureen Freely’s Enlightenment, one character explains to another that in Turkey, “the first thing they make you do in a murder case is put you through a reenactment.” One of the book’s central storylines explores the supposed murder of a mentor of a group of leftist students in Istanbul in the early 1970s. And the novel itself functions as a reenactment, a piecing together of stories and perspectives. But Enlightenment is far more than a murder mystery: it’s about imperialism and politics and human rights, about love and memory, about the subjectivity of truth.




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