“I think one of the feelings exile produces is a sense of in-between—you’re both within a place and somehow distinctly outside its borders.” Natalie Bakopoulos talks with Jennifer Solheim about her new novel, Scorpionfish, out next week from Tin House Books.
Life in Russia, said author Aleksander Snegirev, at Housing Works’ September 21 Rasskazy event, is uncomfortable, but always interesting. So, too, are the stories in this plump new anthology from Tin House: Arkady Babchenko’s beleaguered soldier returns to Chechnya a page away from German Sadulaev’s lyrical descriptions of Chechnya’s devastated countryside. The binding is a veritable trench across which both narrators peek at each other warily.
In her debut novel, Asta in the Wings (Tin House, 2009), Jan Elizabeth Watson captures the peculiar insightfulness of childhood through her seven-year-old narrator, Asta. Forbidden – ever – to leave the house and left alone during the day, Asta and her brother, Orion, fear a plague that their troubled mother has convinced them lurks outside their locked door and tar-papered windows. As Orion recounts: “The plague started some years ago … in a faraway land … not long after our father died from walking straight into the ocean.” These dark allusions underpin the children’s day as it unfolds in whimsical games amid stark circumstance. Yet when the children are forced to enter the outside world, we become even more fearful for their safety.
Pick up the current issue of Tin House and read “Fresco, Byzantine,” a story by FWR contributor Natalie Bakopoulos. They had come of age in such places, those island prisons—during the Nazi occupations, during the civil war, throughout the fifties, and now—and now some were growing old there. This issue, “Political Future,” also features fiction, nonfiction, or political-literary commentary from the likes of José Saramago, Thomas Franks, Francine Prose, Wallace Shawn, Cynthia Ozick, Dorothy Allison, Charles Baxter, John Barth, Junot Díaz, George Saunders, Lydia Davis, Lydia Millet, and others.
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