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Multitudes of Identities in Multitudes of Stories: Emotional Empathy in Five-Carat Soul

In James McBride’s latest short story collection Five-Carat Soul, McBride tackles an era of history dominated by contentious social and racial dynamics through the a lens that humanizes the oppressed. Through each story, McBride reveals social truths about groups ranging from PhD students at Columbia University to war veterans to lower class African Americans in the wake of desegregation. Each story takes the reader through emotional, often heart-breaking encounters that demonstrate different pains of the human condition: love, trauma, injustice and acceptance, among others. Through his clear but poignant prose, McBride emulates the sort of rational and telling voices of historic authors whose literature exposed cultural norms, even if such norms were unflattering. His prose is didactic guised as charming, thus going beyond simply conveying the multiple personalities and experiences, but more broadly conveying an era of post-traumatic stress, whether it be racial, economic, political, or a hybrid of the three.

exit west

Mohsin Hamid’s Novel Exit West Opens Doors to the Migrant Experience

Mohsin Hamid’s latest novel Exit West tells the compelling story of migrants Saeed and Nadia as they face the challenges of a nameless country in the midst of civil war. In fleeing their country, the couple passes through Greece, England and the United States and face literal and psychological obstacles on their way. Hamid successfully penned a novel regarding a pertinent topic with an anonymity that appeals to human experiences of abandonment and cultural detachment that explicate the migrant experience to his readers. Through simple but poignant prose, Hamid spins a tale of anxiety and hope that is equally engaging and humbling. Mohsin Hamid is an internationally bestselling author and essayist who is known for tackling topics that shake global social and political spheres.

COURTESY OF RANDOM HOUSE

American Anxiety in Saunders’s Novel Lincoln in the Bardo

Though many authors have tackled the character of Abraham Lincoln, few are able to dive into the complex psyche of one of America’s most beloved presidents like George Saunders. In his novel Lincoln in the Bardo, Saunders brilliantly captures a deeply emotional story between father and son with a balance of poise and comedy. The novel had potential to fall flat due to its unconventional structure, but Saunders’s risk-taking pays off and works to tell a truly unique and engaging narrative that certainly makes the novel one of Saunders’s best executed works to date. George Saunders is a renowned short story writer commended for tackling dystopian satire and straying from literary convention. A recipient of both the inaugural Folio Prize and the Story Prize for his tongue-curling cleverness and comical narratives, Saunders modestly embarked on the next milestone in his career by writing his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, released February 14th, 2017.

Swing Time

Shall We Dance? Yes, but not Around Colonialism

As a longtime Zadie Smith fan, I began my journey into Swing Time, her latest novel, with a certain degree of expectation. I anticipated to be entertained, that there would be points where I laughed and, as a testament to the complexity of her writing, for there also to be moments in the book when I cried. I did not however, expect to feel intense irritation, almost to the point of hatred. The plot of Swing Time is effectively split into two. The first revolves around the childhood friendship of two girls tied together by their similar skin tones and mutual love of dance.

the vegetarian

Kulturkampf: Fiction Versus All We Hold Near and Dear

The day following Donald Trump’s election, protests broke out on college campuses across the country and Cornell was no exception. Students came together across campus to showcase their collective rage, terror and sadness. These sentiments are just; I shared all of them and questioned our country’s future alongside my classmates. Yet another question continued to nag at my mind: how detached from reality are we? Little effort is needed to recognize the political correctness on college campuses.