October Reads: Bodies, Missing, Lines

The Hyphen Reader: October 2015 
October 31, 2015

Dear Readers,

It's our second birthday! Yes, the Hyphen Reader was started in October two years ago! Crazy how time flies... but I hope you've been enjoying our curation!

October brings us an excerpt from Alexandra Kleeman's acclaimed debut novel, a haunting poem from Monica Sok, and a review of Hyphen's former music editor's debut novel (which we excerpted a few months back!).

Also, PLEASE send in forthcoming books! It's looking slim down there, but I refuse to believe so few of us are publishing books each month.

Also, write us at hyphenreader [at] hyphenmagazine.com and wish us a happy birthday!

Karissa Chen
Fiction & Poetry Editor

[ O N  T H E  B L O G ]

Excerpt from You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman

There's a commercial on TV where a woman using this new citrus-based facial scrub begins to scratch at the side of her face, discovering that it has edges, shriveled and curling slightly like old paper. Eyeing the camera, she grasps these edges and lifts up on them until she is peeling the whole surface of her face off with a filmy sound like plastic wrap unsticking from itself. Underneath is another face exactly like hers, but prettier. It’s younger and wearing better makeup. You’d think that she might want to stop here and start being happy with herself the way she newly is. But she doesn’t stop: instead, she clutches at the side of her face and begins to peel again, and this time the face underneath is even prettier and she’s smiling wildly at the camera, she’s so pleased.

Alexandra Kleeman's strange, satirical novel revolves around a woman named A, her relationships with her roommate B and her boyfriend C, and also features commercials with cats that never get the cakes they desperately desire and a man who compulsively buys veal to prevent others from consuming the meat. This novel exploring commercialism, consumption and the body is darkly funny yet discomfiting.


[ A R O U N D  T H E  W E B ]

"Missing" by Monica Sok

From The Offing

—The sisters who tied their hands together as they slept; they’re both missing — Apsaras last seen bathing in the river; their sarongs float down to Tonle Sap — Brown-wood owl, Eastern great egrets, giant ibises — News coverage on the evacuation of Phnom Penh on the front page of Le Monde in 1975 — 

A haunting and heartbreaking catalog of Cambodian people, things, moments, and lives.


[ B O O K  O F  T H E  M O N T H ]

Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam

Review by Andrea Kim Taylor

"Hyphen’s former music editor Tanwi Nandini Islam’s debut novel Bright Lines exudes and explores intimacy in profoundly diverse ways. From living with the Saleems (Anwar, Hashi, Charu and Ella) in their house, bedrooms, and independently-owned businesses, to exploring their Brooklyn and Bangladesh, readers will palpably know what it is like to live in their worlds. The sinewy paths these characters take throughout Bright Lines towards self-awareness and self-acceptance reveals their strengths and fragility, their ambitions and their fears. Quickly, you find yourself relating to each of them deeply with all of your senses alerted as Anwar and Ella work in their garden, while Hashi or Charu are cooking, or when Anwar enters his apothecary. Islam’s writing is strikingly personal; she pulls the reader in with the familiarity of human complexity, yet layers our relationship to the Saleems with insights into their struggles relating to America and being American. "


[ F R E S H  I N K ]

We'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Pathless Sky by Chaitali Sen (Europa Editions)



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Karissa Chen


Karissa Chen is Editor-in-Chief of Hyphen magazine. She also serves as the Senior Literature Editor.