The Illusions of Intimacy and Reading ‘Other Lives’

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt myself burrow as deeply inside a character as I did inside Myriam, the narrator of Iman Humaydan’s “Other Lives,” translated into English by Michelle Hartman and recently released by Interlink.


‘Life on Hold’: A Novel of Stalled Dreams in Saudi Arabia

A novel where the “days are all much the same, bringing nothing new” is a difficult thing to pull off. And Fahd al-Atiq’s “Life on Hold,” trans. Jonathan Wright, couldn’t be characterized as a page-turner. But the book does manage to craft a compelling narrative about the contradictions of contemporary Riyadh even as the protagonist remains stranded in nowhere-land

Reviewing and Race in US Publications

You’ve seen the VIDA count, which tracks how many books, of those reviewed in mainstream publications, were by women. Recently, over at The Nation, Roxanne Gay gave a shot at tracking how many nonwhite writers’ books were reviewed (including translations).

Why Do Book Reviewers Exist?

I was hanging out over at the poet Iman Mersal’s blog yesterday (hey, Iman!), and got to pondering the perennial question: Why do book reviewers exist? Aren’t they — er, we — just cruel jokesters who couldn’t write our way out of a paper lunch sack, and thus had to make it up to ourselves by pestering and/or fawning over someone who could?