Book Reviews – Michigan Quarterly Review

Book Reviews

The cover of Salah el Moncef's "Benghazi" over an abstract background

“An Enormous Enigmatic Signifier”: Salah el Moncef’s Benghazi

In her Introduction to The Offering (2015), Mari Ruti characterizes Salah el Moncef’s extraordinary novel as a “gripping detective story of murder, mayhem, and mental illness.” At the same time, she is quick to explain that while readers may be rendered “breathless” by this layered, at times frenetic, narrative, it is hardly the novel’s only …

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Cover of the book featuring a purple figure against a red-orange background laid over a simple abstract background.

Hong Kong and the Hope of Cosmopolitanism: Reading Xu Xi’s Monkey in Residence & Other Speculations

On or about the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, writing Twitter began to buzz with jokes about “the long 2020”—a riff on the convention in literary studies to speak of historical epochs like “the long eighteenth century.” (I can’t recall where I first saw the term, though it may well have been in a …

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A Review of Arji Manuelpillai’s Improvised Explosive Device

Arji Manuelpillai’s debut collection, Improvised Explosive Device (out now with Penned in the Margins) explores the precarity of human existence in a world where violence suffuses every interaction. This book peels back the skin of a society “gasping / like blood bags” to reveal a terrible, raw hunger underneath. Even the landscape is like a …

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Hunger and Home: A Review of Dur e Aziz Amna’s American Fever

What of tomorrow? Perhaps if you imagine a moment long enough, it begins to exist outside of time. The chai is always pouring. The tree never dies. It is raining forever. In Dur e Aziz Amna’s gorgeous debut, American Fever, readers can expect to find all the hallmarks of a bumpy adolescence—destructive confidence, crippling self-doubt, steamy crushes, …

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