Robin Lee Carlson speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Reading the Ashes,” which appears in The Common’s fall 2022 issue. Robin talks about the many-year process of observation, illustration, and writing that went into the essay, which explores the cycle of fire and rebirth in Cold Canyon. She also discusses how her work balances the poetic and artistic with the scientific, how sketching and watercolors help her understand the natural world, and how she hopes her book will encourage readers to observe and question ecological change in their local areas.
Sindya Bhanoo speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “Tsunami Bride,” which appears in The Common’s new fall issue. Sindya talks about her experience reporting from India after the 2004 tsunami, and how that experience eventually became a story about a journalist in the same position, told from a local’s perspective. She also discusses how the training and techniques she developed as a journalist have shaped her drafting and revision process for fiction, how food often makes its way into her stories, and how her 2022 story collection Seeking Fortune Elsewhere came together.
Liesl Schwabe speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “The Marching Bands of Mahatma Gandhi Road,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. Liesl talks about the time she spent in Kolkata, India listening to the mostly-Muslim marching bands perform at Hindu weddings and religious ceremonies, and what drew her to this subject. She also discusses the research, writing, and revision that went into this essay, her approach to teaching creative writing, and her next writing projects.
Podcast: Liesl Schwabe on “The Marching Bands of Mahatma Gandhi Road”
Steven Tagle speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his essay “Notes on Looking Back,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. Steven talks about writing this essay, originally in Greek, as a way to explore his love of the language and the experience of learning, speaking, and writing in it. Steven first came to Greece several years ago as a Fulbright Fellow. He discusses his current writing project about borders and migration, and the time he spent visiting and getting to know a family in a refugee camp in Greece. Steven also talks about life in Greece—how friendly and welcoming Greek people can be to outsiders, and how the country weathered the pandemic. When he interned at The Common, Steven spearheaded the magazine’s first podcast series.
Noor Naga speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about co-editing The Common’s first-of-its-kind portfolio of writing from the Arabian Gulf, which appeared in Issue 22. Noor penned an introduction to the portfolio, titled “Who Writes the Arabian Gulf?”, which explores her experience growing up in the Gulf with no real contemporary literature written for, by, or about that diverse population. Noor discusses her idea to create the portfolio, what she enjoyed about assembling it from submissions, and what themes unite the pieces that became part of it. She also talks about her forthcoming novel from Graywolf Press, and why an earlier novel didn’t find a home in publishing.
Podcast: Noor Naga on “Who Writes the Arabian Gulf?”
Xochitl Gonzalez has an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Prize in Fiction. She was the winner of the 2019 Disquiet Literary Prize, and her work has been published in Bustle, Vogue, and The Cut. She is a contributor to The Atlantic, where her weekly newsletter Brooklyn, Everywhere explores gentrification of people and places. Her debut novel Olga Dies Dreaming is out now from Flatiron Books. Prior to beginning her MFA, Xochitl was an entrepreneur and strategic consultant for nearly 15 years.
Reclaiming Brooklyn and Puerto Rico: An Interview with Xochitl Gonzalez
Priyanka Sacheti speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Oman is Mars: An Alien All Along,” which appears in a portfolio of writing from the Arabian Gulf, in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Priyanka talks about her feeling of not belonging anywhere—born in Australia to an Indian family, but growing up in Oman as a third culture kid. She also discusses her work as a poet and an artist, and her experience being stranded between countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Podcast: Priyanka Sacheti on “Oman is Mars: An Alien All Along”
Carin Clevidence speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Ghosts of the Southern Ocean,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Carin talks about how her experiences traveling to Antarctica on expeditions have changed over the years, and how that change comes through in her writing. She also discusses her 2011 novel The House on Salt Hay Road, and the novel she’s recently completed about an expedition to Antarctica.
Podcast: Carin Clevidence on “Ghosts of the Southern Ocean”
In the June edition of Friday Reads, our Managing Editor and two of our volunteer readers recommend books that have refreshed and engaged them as the start of summer creeps closer. Read onward for reflections on translation, the lasting and often problematic legacy of novels, and the importance of maintaining hope.
Recommendations: Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri, Without a Map by Meredith Hall, Lolita in the Afterlife edited by Jenny Minton Quigley
Mark your calendars! For the fifth year, The Common is preparing for LitFest, a weekend of events to recognize and celebrate contemporary literature. In conjunction with the National Book Awards and Amherst College, The Common will celebrate extraordinary voices such as Jesmyn Ward, Susan Choi, Laila Lalami, and Ben Rhodes.
LitFest will be held on the campus of Amherst College from February 27th through March 1st. For more details, visit the LitFest website. But first, read on for recommendations from the participating authors.
Recommendations: Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward; Trust Exercise by Susan Choi; Battle Dress by Karen Skolfield, and The World as It Is by Ben Rhodes.