Aminatu sometimes found comfort in the fact that no one there quite knew her. Their expectation of the things she should have done or could have been was not humiliatingly high. To most who met her, Aminatu was “that young African woman.” That, in its ambiguity, was manageable. So she combined whatever it was to be African with what she was inevitably coming to know as black in America.
Why I Chose It: Michigan Quarterly Review Reader Matthew Wamser introduces Glen Hirshberg’s “Over” from our Summer 2020 Issue. A warning: It is so easy to fall in love with the father in this story. In the narrator’s hands, the father comes alive as a truly specific
Once, a long time ago, when the earth was old but Serbs were still young, men and women and everyone in between thought that water was God and they prayed to it fervently.
The newspapers are, sir, blight, disorder of the first order, just like everything that’s printed; but I tread all over it.
Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) wrote a number of zuihitsu (literary essays) about his pets, of which “Buncho” (1909) is the most delicately crafted. It is the story of a caged bird that was brought to the writer as a companion in his lonely study, but which in the end died of neglect, despite the initial attention it received.