Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Sankar
June 4th, 2014 | 8:00am

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Sankar

 

I didn’t tell anyone at work that I was fasting for Ramadan. Unsure how my Muslim friends would react to an amateur appropriation of their religious culture, I found the explanation difficult.

 

“Why?” A friend—American, like me—asked the obvious question.

 

I stumbled through my rudimentary understanding of the Qur’an, the fact that I was trying to focus on more than immediate bodily needs, to purify my mind, et cetera. I explained that I wanted to understand my friends better, those who chose to practice.

Multiple Authors
June 3rd, 2014 | 8:00am

 

David Breslin is a Curator and Associate Director of the Research and Academic Program at the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts, and a writer of nonfiction on art, feminism and language-based practices. His essay, “Plugs: Five Thoughts on Cady Noland’s Stocks,” was published in Issue No. 07 of The Common. Marni Berger spoke with Breslin at a coffee shop off Washington Square Park in New York City, where they discussed the American art world, how to handle painful subjects, and finding the ideal writing space.

 

reviewed by NICOLE TRESKA
June 2nd, 2014 | 9:36am


In All Our Names, the Ethiopian-born novelist Dinaw Mengestu tells the story of two Isaacs and a Helen living, loving, and leaving each other—apparently in the 1970s. The story, which takes place in both Uganda, and a generic Midwestern U.S. town called Laurel, is narrated partly by Isaac, whose real name isn’t really Isaac (he is also called Langston, Professor, and Dickens at different times and by different people), and partly by Helen, the American social worker assigned to him after he comes to the U.S. to study at university.
 

May 28th, 2014 | 8:00am

We saw them first from a small knoll among the massive spruces and the cedars. They darkened the water of the creek, turning it reddish black and opaque where it widened and slowed among the rocks. "Are those all fish?" I said.

May 27th, 2014 | 8:00am

I spend an hour opening envelopes every day in the basement of the American Library Association.  Past the freight elevator and the official mailroom with its mechanized sorting machines is a room that looks like a cage because of the metal fencing that covers its entrance from floor to ceiling.