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Hala Alyan knows how to balance identities. The Brooklyn-based Palestinian-American spent her childhood moving between the United States and the Middle East; at thirty years old, she’s a licensed practicing psychologist, award-winning author of three poetry collections, and, now, a novelist. It makes sense, then, that Salt Houses, her stunning debut, offers such a piercing examination of displacement, identity, faith, and what one character refers to as a lifetime of “emotional code-switching.” The book begins...
If 2016 taught me anything at all, it’s the fact that sometimes the world, and everything happening in it, can be a bit too much. Speaking on both a wide-spanning macro level, and a personal micro level, sure, there can be quite a lot of happiness and fun, but with that comes moments of overwhelming despair, times of madness—and times when you just need to shut down. One of the most effective ways to do this,...
  If you’re a panda fan—please, think carefully before you claim this title (for an accurate example of ‘panda fan’, look at these images of Jackie Chan with pandas)—and even if you’re not, the panda news this week was surprisingly good, and weird. After approximately zillions of years on the endangered species list and a tenure of equal length as icon of the World Wildlife Fund, the panda has been given a reduced sentence, and therefore...
Last week, in a walk-up apartment in Williamsburg, I sat at a dining room table with Rachel Howe—artist, ceramicist, stick-and-poke tattooist, practitioner of reiki, and, most recently, author and illustrator of a brand new Tarot guide book and deck of cards, Small Spells, from Discipline Press. Her friend and Discipline Press founder, Tamara Santibañez, sat with us. I’d never had a Tarot reading before. Frankly, I didn't know what Tarot was, or believe that it dealt...

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