ambiguous protagonist

Symptomatic by Danzy Senna

“Every day in this new city I was trying to live in the purity of the present, free from context. Contexts, I knew, were dangerous: Once you put them into the picture, they took over.” As with her latest novel New People, Symptomatic presents its readers with a claustrophobic and disquieting narrative that becomes increasingly […]

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Quicksand by Nella Larsen

“As the days multiplied, her need of something, something vaguely familiar, but which she could not put a name to and hold for definite examination, became almost intolerable.” Similarly to Passing, Quicksand is a study of ambivalence. But whereas Passing centered on the complex dynamic—which ranges from enmity to a kinship of sorts—between two light-skinned […]

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Carol by Claire Morgan

“My Angel,” Carol said. “Flung out of space.” Fans of the film adaptation of Carol may find the novel to be not quite as polished or romantic. I, for one, find the novel’s elusiveness and opaqueness to be entrancing. Unlike other books by Highsmith Carol is not a thriller or a crime novel, however, it […]

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My Education by Susan Choi

“Love bestows such a dangerous sense of entitlement.” Sometimes books really deserve their average rating…and this is one of those cases. As I am writing this the majority of readers have given My Education three stars, and more reviewers have given it 2 stars than 5. I know that at the end of the day […]

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These Violent Delights by Micah Nemerever

“They could only stitch themselves back together if they did something irreversible.” Heavenly Creatures by way of Patricia Highsmith, plus a sprinkle of Like Minds, and with the kind of teenage morbidity one could find in Hangsaman or Stoker. Adroit and gripping, These Violent Delights is a superlative debut novel. Being the self-proclaimed connoisseur of […]

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Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid

“Everything I could see looked unreal to me; everything I could see made me feel I would never be part of it, never penetrate to the inside, never be taken in.” From the very first page, I was enthralled by Lucy’s deceptively simple narration. To begin with, I was struck by the clarity of her […]

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