International Fiction Review

Journal covering fiction and reviews worldwide.

Articles

Vol. 34, No. 1-2, January

Myth and Ritual in Liam O'Flaherty's Short Story "Spring Sowing"
The aim of this article is to read the short story "Spring Sowing" (1924), written by the renowned Irish writer Liam O'Flaherty, in the context of psychology as well as myth and ritual. In the process, it will become apparent that the story depicts...
Read preview Overview
Creating the Rogue Hero: Literary Devices in the Picaresque Novels of Martin Amis, Richard Russo, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Steve Tesich
What is it about The Catcher in the Rye that makes me wish I had written it? Perhaps I should start with the fact that Holden Caulfield is as charming as anyone I've ever met--on or off the page. Why is it that whenever I reread Catcher, I never want...
Read preview Overview
Secrecy and Self-Invention: Philip Roth's Postmodern Identity in the Human Stain
Philip Roth's The Human Stain (2000), a fitting final part of the novelist's recent trilogy comprising American Pastoral (1997) and I Married a Communist (1998), dramatizes powerfully the interplay of secrecy and self-transformation that determines...
Read preview Overview
A Narrative of Migration: Gabrielle Alioth's Die Erfindung Von Liebe Und Tod
With her fifth novel, Die Erfindung von Liebe und Tod (The Invention of Love and Death), (1) the Swiss writer Gabrielle Alioth intensifies her "technique of concealment and disguise" (2) beyond that reached in Die stumme Reiterin (The Silent Rider),...
Read preview Overview
Performing Identity in Gish Jen's Mona in the Promised Land
In this essay, I first examine the new mode of subjectivity in the postmodern-global-capitalist era through illustrating the way characters in Gish Jen's Mona in the Promised Land engage in the free play of identity performance. Next I argue that their...
Read preview Overview
Challenging Conventional Recreations of the Western Past: Frank Bergon's Shoshone Mike
The rise to prominence of "new western history" since the late 1960s promoted an increasing demand for truth, fact, and credibility in postfrontier western writing. Despite the extraordinary popularity of traditional views of the myth of the West,...
Read preview Overview
Orality and Subversion in Jack Mapanje's of Chameleons and Gods
Jack Mapanje, one of Malawi's leading poets, was arrested and detained without charge from September 1987 to May 1991 by former president for life and dictator Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda and the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). At the time of his arrest,...
Read preview Overview
The Embrace of the Rosebush: Anti-Hebraism in Modern Jewish Literature
Among the consequences of modernization is an unprecedented tendency among Jewish writers, especially those writing in English, to denigrate or caricature Hebrew and generally give a limited and distorted picture of the Hebrew language and of Jewish...
Read preview Overview
Andrei Bitov on "Russian Wealth"
Great Russian thinkers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Alexander Herzen, Mikhail Bakunin, Fedor Dostoevsky, Lev Tolstoy, and Others) mused about the dilemmas of late imperial Russia. Some of them penned specific proposals as to what...
Read preview Overview
"Subterranean Fires" and the "Weeds" of Asian Modernity in Lu Xun, Yosano Akiko, and Oba Minako
It [the first edition of Leaves of Grass] is very close to the primitive magma. It has the appearance of a flow of lava which nothing could stop and which has remained formless. --Roger Asselineau [Yecao (Weeds) is] genuine poetry in embryo:...
Read preview Overview
Toni Morrison's Quarrel with the Civil Rights Ideology in Love
Toni Morrison's Love, (1) in critiquing the American Civil Rights Movement, problematizes both American and African-American history and also uncovers the vexatious interrelationship of history and black identity, a concern that has been in the novelist's...
Read preview Overview
Socialist Realism and the Success of Famous All over Town
The novel Famous All Over Town, first published in 1983, used to be a highly regarded contribution to Chicano literature. (1) The poignancy and realism of the coming-of-age story were heightened because it was told in the first person and by someone...
Read preview Overview

Vol. 33, No. 1-2, January

The Liberal Tradition in South African Literature: Still a Curse? Nadine Gordimer's A Guest of Honour Revisited
Nadine Gordimer's capacious novel A Guest of Honour, (1) published in 1970 when apartheid was in one of its most secure states, is undoubtedly one of the most sophisticated novels to come out of Africa. A Guest of Honour not only possesses exceptional...
Read preview Overview
Ghosting the Lost Generation: Geoff Dyer's Paris Trance
In the Acknowledgements he inserts at the back of his 1998 novel Paris Trance, (1) Geoff Dyer lists ten instances in which, using an analogy from hip-hop, he says he "sampled" The Sun Also Rises. Dyer did not choose to appropriate such familiar Hemingway...
Read preview Overview
"That Which a Man Takes for Himself No One Can Deny Him": Amitav Ghosh's the Glass Palace and the Colonial Experience
[The Empire is] a huge, indelible stain which has tainted all of us. --Amitav Ghosh (1) Now that fifty years or so have passed since the colonies in Asia and Africa became free--with the strident anticolonial passion somewhat abated and the shrill...
Read preview Overview
The Frummer in the Attic: Rachel Lichtenstein and Iain Sinclair's Rodinsky's Room and Jewish Memory
David Rodinsky, the "frummer in the attic" in Rodinsky's Room, was an Orthodox Jew who lived above the synagogue in Princelet Street, in the old Jewish East End of London. (1) In the late 1960s he disappeared but his absence went unnoticed for more...
Read preview Overview
In Breach of Story: Breaking the Shackles of Traditional Fiction
I have undergone the trauma of too many undergraduate creative writing teachers, too many books on the craft of short stories. Though I am sure all of them have been well intentioned, I am still distressed. In my own writing, the time-honored rules...
Read preview Overview
Between Cultural Imperialism and the Fatwa: Colonial Echoes and Postcolonial Dialogue in Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories
The first novel Salman Rushdie published after going into hiding was Haroun and the Sea of Stories. (1) Many reviewers and critics have assumed that the novel must be a creative response to the death sentence pronounced by the Ayatollah Khomeini of...
Read preview Overview
I Hear You Sister: Women of Color Speak (to Each Other)
Racism, thick and oppressive, slapped me on the face from the first moment I set foot in the United States. From the streets of New York through Long Beach, Los Angeles, and finally Chicago, it continued to shock me every time I heard it or felt it....
Read preview Overview
Of Self and Country: U.S. Politics, Cultural Hybridity, and Ambivalent Identity in Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex
Despite negative interpretations coming from Marxist critics like Fredric Jameson (1) and the implications of cultural relativism associated with it, (2) Postmodernism represented a powerful cultural shift that, even if commodified, has produced profound...
Read preview Overview
Hearts of Stone: Quarrying the Canadian Shield in Recent Canadian Women's Writing
Too long a sacrifice Can make a stone of the heart. William Butler Yeats, "Easter 1916" Take away our hearts o' stone, and give us hearts o' flesh! Sean O'Casey, Juno and the Paycock Recent Canadian women writers quarry the human heart, but...
Read preview Overview

Vol. 32, No. 1-2, January

Nikos Kazantzakis, Nietzsche, and the Myth of the Hero
In practicality the same circumstances under which Christ was born, his dark brother, the Antichrist, would be born, and he would work very much the same miracles but in order to seduce mankind. (1) C. G. Jung's statement, given during his five-year-long...
Read preview Overview
The Spectator's Pleasure: Yeats's "Long-Legged Fly"
This paper proposes an analysis of Yeats's poem "Long-legged Fly" based on the idea that the self is a space wherein imagination's drives inscribe ideographic realities of desire. I will argue that the re-presentation of such inscriptions in the presence...
Read preview Overview
Haunted Fiction: Modern Chinese Literature and the Supernatural
Since the early 1980s a considerable number of self-consciously experimental, modernist, or postmodernist mainland Chinese writers have been describing weird and abnormal phenomena as part of their fictional universe. This emergence, or reemergence,...
Read preview Overview
Willa Cather's Use of Inner Light
A noteworthy technique that the American writer Willa Cather (1873-1947) uses for effecting characterization is by having the character contain light within; light becomes a vital force, the elan vital, the essential spirit operating within. This becomes...
Read preview Overview
Alternatives to Modernism in Contemporary Egyptian Fiction: Ibrahim Abdel-Maguid's No One Sleeps in Alexandria
It is not by mere chance that fictional writing in Egypt took a new turn at the beginning of the twentieth century. Innovations in literary forms were partly inspired by new waves of cultural productions that came along with modernism. However, modernism...
Read preview Overview
Is There a Work in This Classroom? Interpretations, Textual Readings, and American Fiction
If you suggest some fresh and more ingenious reason for doubting that the author meant what he said, or that what he said had any truth content of the remotest kind, you win ten points by the rules of the modern critical game; you lose ten points if...
Read preview Overview
Misrecognizing History: Complicitous Genres in Kazuo Ishiguro's the Remains of the Day
The theme of guilt looms large in Kazuo Ishiguro's fiction. A locus classicus for Ishiguro criticism is an explicit observation concerning the dramatization of regret: "What I'm interested in is not the actual fact that my characters have done things...
Read preview Overview
A Little Nostalgia: The Detective Novels of Alexandra Marinina
Old Songs about the Main Things. In December 2002, Russkoe Radio-2, a station that broadcasts songs of the Soviet era, celebrated the year of its work with a party advertised as "Our Motherland is the USSR!" Appetizers served featured such hits of...
Read preview Overview

Vol. 31, No. 1-2, January

Saad E. A. Elkhadem: 1932-2003
Late in 2003 we lost Saad Elkhadem, Professor Emeritus of the University of New Brunswick and founding member of the International Fiction Review. Saad was born in Cairo, Egypt, where he began his education followed by graduate studies in Graz,...
Read preview Overview
Moby-Dick and Schopenhauer
For it is the case with regard to everything, that each man can only prize that which to a certain extent is analogous to him and for which he has at least a slight inclination.--Arthur Schopenhauer In his last years, Herman Melville (1819-1891)...
Read preview Overview
Reading Amy Tan's Hologram: The Hundred Secret Senses
I have to write what I have to write about, including the question of life continuing beyond our ordinary senses.--Amy Tan In Amy Tan's novel The Hundred Secret Senses (1995), the world of yin and the world of yang are presented adjacently and ambiguously....
Read preview Overview
Using the Heart: The Symbolism of Individual Change in Bessie Head's Maru
Bessie Head's commentary in Maru (1971) is delivered at the personal level, though it purports a solution to the racism suffered by the Masarwa people. The novel traces the symbolic change of Dilepe village (Botswana) and, by extension, that of Africa,...
Read preview Overview
"Flowers in All Their Colours": Natios and Communities in Ngugi Wa Thiong'o's Petals of Blood
How has the neocolonial nation been defined in fiction? Representations vary from depictions of barren wastelands run by corrupt rulers in Ousmane Sembene's Xala (1974) to isolated outposts ruled by megalomaniacal army generals in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's...
Read preview Overview
"Musak": The Office and the Language of Madness
There are certain works of fiction that one repeatedly revisits. I, for instance, find myself constantly going back to the short stories of Mario Benedetti (Uruguay, 1920). What fascinates me about Benedetti's short fiction is the way he manages to...
Read preview Overview
Gunter Grass's Tribute to Uwe Johnson
The friendship between Gunter Grass and Uwe Johnson was a significant factor in their lives and, in regard to Grass, in his work. The high esteem Grass accorded his fellow novelist and close friend has been aptly demonstrated by Grass's having listed...
Read preview Overview
Textual Dynamics in Chinua Achebe's Home and Exile and No Longer at Ease
In this paper, I use Chinua Achebe's nonfiction work Home and Exile (2000) and his novel No Longer at Ease (1960) as reference points for arguing that the application of intertextual theory to postcolonial literature in such groundbreaking studies...
Read preview Overview
Temples and Tabernacles: Alternative Religions in the Fictional Microcosms of Robertson Davies, Margaret Laurence, and Alice Munro
Some of the greatest Canadian novelists are regionalists who convey Canadian identity through developing fictional microcosms. Robertson Davies, Margaret Laurence, and Alice Munro follow in the tradition of novelists such as Walter Scott, Thomas Hardy,...
Read preview Overview
New Titles
Two-page reviews of the following titles are invited Alber, Charles J. Enduring the Revolution: Ding Ling and the Politics of Literature in Guomindang China. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002. Pp. 242. $64.95 Alexander, Goldie. Body and Soul. Victoria,...
Read preview Overview

Vol. 30, No. 1-2, January

The Quest for Community in American Postmodern Fiction
The good intentions, and good deeds, of liberalism and the contemporary liberal state notwithstanding, there have been myriad countervailing pressures working against the formation of communities in postmodern America, and it is on two of these that...
Read preview Overview
Where Do Stories Begin and End? the Example of Marc Petit
Among the comments that critics make about Marc Petit's fiction, there are many flattering comparisons to other writers, including Kafka, Rimbaud, Trakl, Borges, Sue, Verne, Arnim, and the brothers Grimm. (1) This shows the high regard in which his...
Read preview Overview
African Interests: White Liberalism and Resistance in Margaret Laurence's "Pure Diamond Man"
In a letter to Mordecai Richler, dated 2 August 1968, Margaret Laurence made an unusual reference to Africa while complimenting Richler for his novel Cocksure: "[I]f you have ever once been a white liberal," she says, "you never forget how it was,...
Read preview Overview
Proto-Postcolonial? Angus Wilson and the Languages of Liberalism
All fiction for me is a kind of magic and trickery--a confidence trick, trying to make people believe something is true that isn't. (1) Sir Angus Wilson, novelist, critic, journalist, playwright, and professor, has always been seen as that very...
Read preview Overview
Camus and Hemingway: The Solidarity of Rebellion
Ernest Hemingway's writing had a profound influence on the new generation of French writers in the 1930s, particularly Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, and, in a 1946 essay in the Atlantic Monthly, Sartre said that L'Etranger would not be what it...
Read preview Overview
If English Is Spanish Then Spanish Is ...: Literary Challenges of Representing Bilingual Speech Production and Reception in Esmeralda Santiago's America's Dream
Much has been written of late about the difficulties of translation, issues of faithfulness and readability that arise when a text originally produced in one language is remade in another, but here the questions are of a different order. Much of Santiago's...
Read preview Overview
Beast in Chicago: Saul Bellow's Apocalypse in the Dean's December
Saul Bellow's The Dean's December (1) is in many ways an apocalyptic novel. It depicts a world in the grip of spiritual crisis. It has a prophetlike narrator who believes in the power of the word to transform the world. The narrative is clearly driven...
Read preview Overview
Variations on Three Bodies of Knowledge
A notable aspect of the problem-solving process--the primary task of the literary detective--is the continuous interplay between existing knowledge and knowledge directly related to the case in hand. This article focuses on describing and comparing...
Read preview Overview

Vol. 29, No. 1-2, January

The Significance of the Epiphany in der Steppenwolf
In its literary dimension, the term "epiphany" refers to an occasion on which a character in a work of fiction is suddenly overtaken by a moment of insight into the tenor of his or her life. Originally the word had a religious connotation, since...
Read preview Overview
Sandra Cisneros's Modern Malinche: A Reconsideration of Feminine Archetypes in Woman Hollering Creek
Sandra Cisneros's collection of stories Woman Hollering Creek (1991) depicts the situation of the Mexican-American woman: typically caught between two cultures, she resides in a cultural borderland. (1) The topics of the stories range from the confusions...
Read preview Overview
Early Precursors to the Egyptian Novel
The contemporary Egyptian novel owes its existence to two literary sources: the traditional narratives that were created in Egypt in the nineteenth century by theologians, linguists, intellectuals, and poets and are related to old Arabic literary...
Read preview Overview
The Politics and Poetics of Philippine Festival in Ninotchka Rosca's State of War
"Both the social function and the symbolic meaning of the festival are closely related to a series of overt values that the community recognizes as essential to its ideology and worldview, to its social identity, its historical continuity, and to...
Read preview Overview
Class, Culture, and the Colonial Context: The Status of Women in Buchi Emecheta's the Joys of Motherhood
Much of the written scholarship on Buchi Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood (1979) focuses on the novel's critique of traditional Ibo society. (1) Specifically, such articles read Emecheta's text as a denunciation of the reproductive practices of...
Read preview Overview
Writing as Tea Ceremony: Kawabata's Geido Aesthetics
In his article "Alternative Modernity? Playing the Japanese Game of Culture" (1994), Andrew Feenberg suggests that Yasunari Kawabata's novel The Master of Go (1954) embodies the Zen Buddhist principle that playing Go in traditional Japan constituted...
Read preview Overview
Between Generations across Cultures: Exploring Female Memory in Women's Fiction
"We think back through our mothers if we are women," said Virginia Woolf in 1929, addressing an audience of women. (1) She was pointing to the lack of a women's tradition in literature specifically; however, she also meant that women's intellectual...
Read preview Overview
Edgar Allan Poe and E. T. A. Hoffmann: The Double in "William Wilson" and the Devil's Elixirs
In response to accusations that the horror in his stories was derived from German literary sources, Edgar Allan Poe claimed in the Preface for the Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque in 1840 that "if in many of my productions terror has been the...
Read preview Overview
The Provocations of Lenina in Huxley's Brave New World
As befits a Juvenalian satirist, indignantly, bitterly, misanthropically chastising his culture, Aldous Huxley often expresses outright disgust with the entire human species. In Antic Hay (1923), his second novel, an anonymous old man tells Theodore...
Read preview Overview
Dissolving the Reader/author Binary: Sylvia Molloy's Certificate of Absence, Helena Parente Cunha's Woman between Mirrors, and Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body
In Western culture, we have been trained in binary thought: good or evil, white or black, logical or emotional, male or female. One of the consequences of such thought processes is associative, wherein the individual equates all of the terms on...
Read preview Overview

Vol. 28, No. 1-2, January

Great War Narrative into Film: Transformation, Reception, and Reaction
It is a truism of twentieth-century European history that the First World War formed or, from certain points of view, deformed all aspects of European life. Certainly, the commemoration of that war occupied a central position in European thought in...
Read preview Overview
International Fiction vs. Ethnic Autobiography: Cultural Appropriation in Mark Twain and Edward Rivera
Negotiating foreignness has been at the heart of two subgenres of American prose literature, international fiction dealing with Americans in the Old World and ethnic autobiography depicting the fate of newcomers in the United States. The former flourished...
Read preview Overview
Nawal El Saadawi's the Fall of the Imam and the Possibility of a Feminine Writing
The writing of Nawal El Saadawi(1) reminds readers that not all "democracies" of what we used to be comfortable calling the "free world" are quite as respectful of civil liberties as we often naively assume them to be. Saadawi was trained first as...
Read preview Overview
Phoenix Has No Coat: Historicity, Eschatology, and Sins of Omission in Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path"
Unsurprisingly, Eudora Welty's short story "A Worn Path" has inspired many interpretations. Most critics, including Elaine Orr, James Walter, Peter Schmidt, and James Robert Saunders, assert the work as an optimistic depiction of its protagonist, Phoenix...
Read preview Overview
J. M. Coetzee and the Postcolonial Rhetoric of Simultaneity
Having published nine novels and won such prestigious literary awards as the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize (1980), the Booker Prize (1983, 1999), and the Jerusalem Prize (1987), J. M. Coetzee has become one of the most important late twentieth-century...
Read preview Overview
The Paradox of Globalization as an "Untotalizable Totality" in Salman Rushdie's the Ground beneath Her Feet
In his 1999 novel The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Salman Rushdie explores the shifting cultural ground upon which identifies, nations, and empires are built. In its evocation of music as a "globalized cultural phenomenon,"(1) Rushdie's novel is at once...
Read preview Overview
Oral Tradition and Modern Storytelling: Revisiting Chinua Achebe's Short Stories
An exclusive preoccupation with Chinua Achebe's novels has somewhat decidedly deflected attention away from his work both as a short-story writer and as a writer of children's fiction.(1) The aim of this essay is to rekindle interest specifically in...
Read preview Overview
German Minority Literature: Tongues Set Free & Pointed Tongues
When Elias Canetti--polyglot, author, Spanish-speaking, Bulgarian-born Jew, and 1981 Nobel laureate--wrote his 1977 autobiographical novel The Tongue Set Free, from which the title of this article is taken, he could have had no inkling that he would...
Read preview Overview
Reading Bulgakov's the Master and Margarita from the Perspective of Hinduism
Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita (1966-67)(1) has been praised highly for both its literary merit and its spiritual significance. Many critical studies explain the complex nature of the interrelationship between the natural and supernatural...
Read preview Overview