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Phillip Pantuso

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Beauty Is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan translated by Annie Tucker (New Directions)Some of the world’s best literature is born from its worst tragedies, and tragedies don’t come much worse than the ones that befell Indonesia in the 20th century. For 300 years, the islands were the base of the Dutch East India Company, until they were occupied by Japan during World War II. (Here’s an indication of how the Indonesians felt about being a...
Typically, you start at the beginning, but in the career of Howard Fishman—the songwriter, bandleader, playwright, composer, and amateur musicologist—there are so many beginnings that they begin to blur into something else entirely. Fishman has decamped to New Orleans with $300 in his pocket, a guitar, and a little suitcase. He has opened and then closed an avant-garde theater company in Poughkeepsie. He has recorded an album about hitchhiking through Romania, composed an oratorio...
Einav Sharon has been making a version of filfel chuma, a garlic-based North African sauce, for more than twenty years now. Until recently, only friends and family had tasted it. Then she met Jeff Silva. Or, rather, their cats introduced them at a kitty pancake party (“We brought our cats to a friend’s house, and made pancakes”). It was there that Jeff tried Einav’s filfel chuma. “Two things came to mind,” he remembers. “One:...
Undermajordomo Minor Patrick deWitt (House of Anansi Press) The most visible innovation of postmodern fiction was the movement’s steroidal creation of new narrative modes, most obviously manifested as formal, on-the-page techniques, including but not limited to: temporal dislocations, unreliable narrators, metafictive playfulness, ironical remove, and an abundance of typographies and footnotes. The further we get from the real-world and literary context in which the practitioners of high postmodernism operated, the more those formal techniques look...

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