Kirstin Allio is the author of the short story collection Clothed, Female Figure and the novel Garner, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Her latest novel, Buddhism for Western Children, will be the inaugural novel from The Iowa Review Series, a new imprint from University of Iowa Press, coming out in the fall of 2018. In this month’s interview, Kirstin Allio and The Common’s editorial assistant Isabel Meyers discuss motherhood, childhood memories, and society’s fascination with religious cults.
Isabel MeyersOn Noticing: an interview with Kirstin Allio
Three Words to Describe the Climate: Sunny, windy, dusty
Best time of the year to visit: Every season in Lubbock has its challenges, but I like it best in either May or September when everything is green and flowering, the hottest days are still either in front of us or past, and the wind is slightly less intense (though it never really goes away).
Current city or town: Kampala, Uganda
How long have you lived here: Since 2011
Three words to describe the climate: Friendly, sunny, dusty
Best time of year to visit? All year. It can get wet in the rainy season, with flash floods, but that doesn’t normally last more than a few hours.
1. The most striking physical features of this city/town are . . . The birds. Kampala is full of wetlands. My home is near one and I sometimes see ten different species in a day. There’s a species that thrives in the middle of the streets. The marabou stork, karoli, the garbage collector. In the past the city had poor waste management and this attracted the storks, but today they have fallen in love with the lampposts and tall buildings and won’t leave, though the council has tried to exterminate them.
Sunna JuhnAsk a Local: Dilman Dila, Kampala, Uganda
Carmen Maria Machado’s debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award, the Kirkus Prize, and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize and the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded numerous fellowships and residencies from organizations that include the Michener-Copernicus Foundation, the Yaddo Corporation, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. Her memoir, House in Indiana, is forthcoming in 2019 from Graywolf Press. Carmen Maria Machado will be at Amherst College on March 1st at 7:30 for a National Book Awards on Campus Conversation, which is a part of LitFest 2018.
This summer Hilary Leichter met with Machado at her home in Philadelphia, where Machado is the Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania.
Julia PikeThe Thing That Would Unmake You: an Interview with Carmen Maria Machado
Three words to describe the climate: early fall, harsh.
Best time to visit? Spring
The most striking physical features of the city/ town are:
A first time visitor to Nsukka will notice an environment full of hills, with houses at the valleys and at the breasts of the hills. Then he moves closer to notice a usually crowded park where the people’s central market, Ogige, is located. Not long ago, the roads were really in bad shape but things have changed now. The new state governor gave the town a serious facelift in terms of road reconstruction and it has increased access to and from the town.
Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters have each been described as landscape writers. Kahn mapped the American West in the biography Horses that Buck and McMasters’ memoir, Welcome to Shirley, grappled with a hometown that was as dangerous as it was idyllic. In subsequent work, both writers found themselves writing and thinking about the places harder to locate on a map and much harder still to define: home. Kahn and McMasters are the editors of the recently published This Is the Place: women writing about home, featuring essays by thirty women writers who explore the complex and messy business of making, being, and leaving—or sometimes escaping—home.
Emma CroweThe Fault Lines of Home: an Interview with Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters
Current city or town: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
How long have you lived here: A year and nine months
Three words to describe the climate: Hot to scorching
Best time of year to visit? November through March. The temperature is in the 60s or 70s, sunbathing on the beach becomes possible and the city finally starts buzzing with outdoor dining and with arts and culture, including Art Dubai, Dubai Design Week and the Dubai International Film Festival.
This year, Bethany Ball’s debut novel What to Do About the Solomons took the literary world by storm, garnering a rave review from The New York Times and a short-listing for The Center For Fiction’s First Novel Prize. In What to Do About the Solomons, Ball writes a provocative, sexy, and darkly funny tale about a multigenerational family with origins in an Israeli kibbutz. She moves us between decades and continents, from lonely childhood to lonely adulthood to the home raid of an alleged money launderer. Perhaps all in a day in for this intricate family that moves simultaneously closer together and farther apart.
In this month’s interview, Dennis Norris II and Bethany Ball talk writing multigenerational families, awkward sex scenes, and more.
Sunna JuhnAwkward Sex Scenes Are My Superpower: An Interview with Bethany Ball