“Room for More”

Sanjena Sathian

These days, in the literary world, the only thing trendier and triter than writing autofiction is hating autofiction. But love or loathe it, you can’t avoid talking about it — and its uncertain future. For a decade, it has reigned as the successor to the highly narrativized, stylized, maximalist “hysterical realism” of the late 1990s and early 2000s. After tiring of books like Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex,...

“Here Comes the Break” | On Literary Fiction Today

Sanjena Sathian

As we were preparing to launch this magazine, we told our first cohort of writers not to pitch us anything about contemporary fiction. We were bored by it, we said — mostly but not entirely tongue-in-cheek.  This issue, we’re making an exception. It seems to us that the literary ground has shifted, and the forms and themes considered most exciting just a few years ago are now all but exhausted....

Good Immigrant Novels | Jhumpa Lahiri and the Aesthetics of Respectability

Sanjena Sathian

When I was in tenth grade, my favorite English teacher pulled me aside ceremoniously to deliver some news. That year, Jhumpa Lahiri’s 1999 story collection The Interpreter of Maladies was replacing Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart on our “World Literature”-themed syllabus. (Never mind that most of those Pulitzer Prize-winning short stories take place in the U.S.) This was 2006, before the emergence of the bromide “representation matters,” but that was...

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