No One Will Love You More
by Crystal Wilkinson 

If you said you remembered her whispers or the muffled cries, if you said you heard the dog’s bark followed by the engine of your grandfather’s car, then the crunch of the gravel as they headed out of the holler carrying her away from you, you’d be lying. But somehow all of this is true. You’ve carried versions of your mother, versions of her leaving, with you your entire life. Inventing and then re-inventing your mother’s story. Turning your mother over and holding her up to the light like a stone.  READ MORE

Ain't That Good News
by Brit Bennett

 
Painting: Maceo Montoya

Painting: Maceo Montoya

 

Wanting to kill someone felt like a type of love. Before they caught him, Florence worried about Andy as often as his own mama might: cotton soft thoughts, like was he fed? Was he bloodied? Was he well? Was he sleep at a bus stop? Did he remember to bring a jacket? Bet he forgot. Bet he never remembered to bring a jacket. He was on the run for three months, and all that time, she worried that he might catch cold or starve. The only thing worse than him getting away was him dying a natural death. She didn’t want there to be anything natural about the way Andy Robinson left this earth. And she worried about him, praying that nothing or no one else would touch him until the sheriff got to him first. Now that he was locked away, she still thought about Andy every day, little thoughts that felt like touches in the dark. Just to reassure herself that she hadn’t imagined him—that this long, lanky boy on the front page with those soft eyes had used his knobby hands to spread her daughter’s thighs like a wishbone before he hogtied her with her carnation pink sweater and tossed her in the Calcasieu River.   READ MORE


An Interview with Gish Jen

 
Photo Credit: Arc Astronaut

Photo Credit: Arc Astronaut

 

It is obviously impossible to draw a line between East and West, geographically or otherwise. And yet, paradoxically, there is a cultural gap—really between what psychologist Richard Nisbett called the West and the rest, with the "West" mostly meaning Western Europe and the U.S., and "the rest" meaning the rest of the world. Of course, what with the Western dominance of the world, Americans are often blissfully unaware of what a minority we actually are in our thinking, and how we use our narratives as a mirror rather than a window. I give a number of examples of this in Tiger Writing and Girl at the Baggage Claim. Is it dangerous to blind ourselves this way? Of course. We would have been far more aware that the Vietnamese were capable of digging, and living in, huge networks of tunnels, for example, had we understood how different their selves were than that of the average American soldier; and had we been aware of that, perhaps we would have thought better of getting into the quagmire of the Vietnam War. As for whether the dangers are greater than ever today—absolutely.   READ MORE

An Interview with Crystal Wilkinson

 
Photo Credit: Nikky Finney

Photo Credit: Nikky Finney

 

My primary identity has always been and still is as an African-American-country-woman. I think that perhaps when I wrote the first book I was just accepting that that was who I was and at the beginning of celebrating my ruralness instead of hiding it. I spent a great number of years trying to hide the fact that I was a rural woman because I didn’t want to seem backward or country. When I say country I don’t mean a small town. I mean I lived in a world where our house backed up to the woods. We lived on a gravel road with an outhouse and all of our water came from a well. No inside running water or inside toilets. Our house was heated by wood burning stoves and we could only get one television station but replete with creeks, trees, green land it was such a beautiful place. For much of my young adulthood I was obsessed with trying to hide my accent so that no one would know where I was from. But then I fell back in love with my upbringing and gained the confidence to celebrate my background and to allow my writing to be a sort of praise-song to that upbringing. I think the writing has helped me combat stereotypes about African American rural identities.  READ MORE