The Ex-Jehovah’s Witness Who Found Her Voice When She Lost Her Clothes

By Sarah Hoenicke for Narratively Shelbie Dimond drops her high-waisted jeans, shirt, bra, and thong into a pile beside her camera kit. She looks over Hollywood’s rooftops from a large patio. Strangers amble out of the house, smoking cigarettes or chasing their dogs. “Um, can you get naked?” she asks Kevin, who’s given her access to […]

Interrogating Whiteness: reading Austin Channing Brown’s “I’m Still Here”

By Sarah Hoenicke for Anomaly Michael Brown was killed just weeks before I began my junior year at a private college in Oakland, California. “Police brutality” wasn’t a phrase I’d considered within an American context. My parents homeschooled my eight siblings and me. Our access to TV, the internet, music, movies, and people outside our church’s […]

Black Infants in the East Bay Are Experiencing Higher Negative Health Outcomes

Written by Sarah Hoenicke, with videos and additional reporting by Sarah Cahlan, and photos by Drew Costley While she was carrying her third child, Tanisha Fuller had to convince her hospital caretakers that something was really wrong. It was 2003, she was six months pregnant, and she was unsure of what was happening to her. […]

25 Years After November 26, 1992

By Sarah Hoenicke for the LA Review of Books blog (BLARB) The focal poem discussed in this essay is included in full, below: November 26, 1992: Thanksgiving at the Sea Ranch, Contemplating Metempsychosis By Sandra M. Gilbert You tried coming back as a spider. I was too fast for you. As you climbed my ankle, I swept […]

A Time to Mourn

By Sarah Hoenicke for Anomaly This month, my plan was to write about two new books, both by white men with the first name John. I wouldn’t usually choose titles with such homogeneity. When I select books, it’s because I think they’ll add to who I am by exposing me to who I am not, and […]

Speaking Up With Beck Levy

By Sarah Hoenicke for the Rational Online In the class we took on nonfiction writing at Mills College, Beck Levy sat at the end of the table facing away from the windows, and the sun at her back made her dark curly hair shine at its edges. She wore a look of intensity on her face […]

And to Questioning, Stay Faithful

By Sarah Hoenicke, monthly column for Anomaly “If I pulled off the hangnail, I could once again pray undistracted,” writes Tova Mirvis in her recent memoir, The Book of Separation. “But if I pulled it off,” she continues, “I would be breaking one of the laws of the day. In this small sliver of nail,” […]

Jesus Christ is Now Following You!

By Sarah Hoenicke, for Catapult “When will American Christians put two and two together and start acting like their Savior?” It began on a bright and windless morning in fall. I was dressing for the school day ahead, readying for my commute from San Francisco to Oakland, when my phone buzzed with a notification from Instagram: […]

Points of Access: Achy Obejas’s “The Tower of the Antilles”

By Sarah Hoenicke for the LA Review of Books “THE MALDIVES,” a story included in Achy Obejas’s most recent collection, The Tower of the Antilles (Akashic Books), is about a woman leaving her cramped, limited home in Cuba for the United States. She’s lesbian, and in the process of being “saved” from her country by […]

Restaurant Employees: Our Shameful Histories

By Sarah Hoenicke for Fiction Advocate It would be easy to assume that the casual racism and sexism of the characters in Mimi Pond’s The Customer is Always Wrong are relics, representative of a less enlightened time. But, though lead character Madge is stuck at a “meaningless” restaurant job in the seventies, her experience jives strongly […]

Cosmic Disruption: A Twenty-first Century Decentering

By Sarah Hoenicke for Anomaly “It looked as though we had all gathered on hilltops to pray for the world on its last day,” Annie Dillard writes of a congregation of eclipse-viewers, in her essay, “Total Eclipse.” Dr. Ofelia Zepeda’s poem, “Riding the Earth,” reverses the gaze; instead of people come together looking out at the […]

A Gentle Visit

By Sarah Hoenicke for Anomaly “The visit was a liniment,” writes poet Alberto Ríos in “Coffee in the Afternoon.” A balm for the nerves of two people living in the world, A balm in the tenor of its language, which spoke through our hands In the small lifting of our cups and our cakes to our […]

An American Weakness

By Sarah Hoenicke for Anomaly In a recent op-ed for the New York Times, Julia Fierro writes: “Weakness or, to be more specific, showing or admitting to weakness, seemed both un-Italian and un-American.” Fierro is writing here about the impact of Zoloft on her life, and more specifically, her writing career. Before Zoloft, her anxiety and […]

Micro-Review: Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas’s Don’t Come Back

By Sarah Hoenicke for Gulf Coast Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas’s series of essays, Don’t Come Back, is an exploration of belonging and of the ways memory and imagination interact to create history. Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas reminds readers that we can still write creation narratives, as she does in four of the essays. There are still stories untold, and original […]

The Choice to Stay: SJ Sindu’s “Marriage of a Thousand Lies”

By Sarah Hoenicke for the LA Review of Books TO BE WHO SHE IS AND NOT DISAPPEAR — this is the great challenge for Lucky (Lakshmi), the main character of SJ Sindu’s debut, Marriage of a Thousand Lies (Soho, June 2017). The marriage ostensibly central to the book is that of Lucky and Kris (Krishna); […]

The Many Homelands of the Mind

By Sarah Hoenicke for the Punch Two literary journals, in their recent issues, put together interesting perspectives on home and belonging Home. Homestead. Homemade. Homegrown. Homeland. Homesick. At home. To home in on—clearly, the concept of home invades much of our thinking, and so, too, our language. Home signifies interior; to be away from it, […]

The Many Faces of Arab Culture: Hala Alyan’s Salt Houses

By Sarah Hoenicke for the Rumpus Most Americans have a simplistic idea of Arab cultures and the variety of experiences within them. We seem to assume that every Arab is religious; that every Arab woman wears the veil, and that it is forced on her; that women have little freedom to be educated, think for themselves, […]

The Secret Life: On Julie Buntin’s Marlena

By Sarah Hoenicke for Brooklyn Magazine “Everyone has a secret life. But when you’re a girl with a best friend, you think your secret life is something you can share,” says Cat, the young narrator of Julie Buntin’s stirring debut, Marlena. Marlena and Cat think, like most teens, that their friendship is exceptional. Marlena begins just […]

Playwright-Performer Sarah Jones (And Company) Talk Trump’s First 100 Days

By Sarah Hoenicke for Playwright-performer Sarah Jones “plays with the spaces between” questions about self-creation for her one-woman shows, Surface Transit (2000), Tony award-winning Bridge & Tunnel (2004, produced by Meryl Streep), and Sell/Buy/Date (2016). Jones slips seamlessly into character during her shows, donning their props and accents: elderly Jewish Lorraine; soft-spoken Lakota Gary; […]

On American War, Omar El Akkad’s Tale of the Second American Civil War

By Sarah Hoenicke for Gulf Coast Omar El Akkad’s fiction debut, American War (April, Knopf), envisions a second American Civil War, waged 2074 to 2093, again between South and North. The effects of global climate change have induced a mass-move inland as the coasts are lost to rising seas and frequent, massively destructive storms. The Southerners […]

Jami Attenberg: Listening to Write

By Sarah Hoenicke for Guernica Photo by Zack Smith Photography. You think, because she’s so funny, so sharp, so sarcastic and constantly moving, that Jami Attenberg can’t make you sad. But she can floor you. Fiction like Attenberg’s—entertaining, witty, a swirl of happiness, hope, and disaster—is an escape from daily reality and worry. It’s also a […]

Theoretically Personal

By Sarah Hoenicke for BOMB Resisting confession in Yiyun Li’s Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life “For years I have had the belief that all my questions will be answered by the books I am reading,” Yiyun Li writes in her latest effort, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to […]

BOOKS | The Young Widower’s Handbook

By Sarah Hoenicke for Wales Arts Review In his pleasantly hyperbolic fiction debut, The Young Widower’s Handbook, Tom McAllister engages his readers in the life of Hunter Cady and the memory of his wife, Kait, who dies early in the story. Almost everything we learn about Kait comes through Hunter – his recollections of their conversations, […]

In Conversation with Daniel Lowe

Sarah Hoenicke talks to the author of All That’s Left to Tell, Daniel Lowe, for Wales Arts Review We know that stories have lives of their own, independent of their tellers. They wind and shape themselves differently in hearers’ minds, and then come out slightly transformed in retellings. In Daniel Lowe’s fiction debut, All That’s Left […]

The joys of a novel: Jade Chang interviewed by Sarah Hoenicke

By Sarah Hoenicke for the Columbia Journal “Sometimes just living your life in a way that is completely unapologetic is a rebellion.” Jade Chang’s debut novel, The Wangs vs. the World, is an extraordinarily balanced first book.  Often, debuts lack perfect continuity—containing lapses into portions of the story that the author needed to know, but […]

Anuk Arudpragasam: Within the Bounds of the Body

Anuk Arudpragasam’s debut novel, The Story of a Brief Marriage, takes place over a single day near the end of the Sri Lankan civil war. The novel’s protagonist, Dinesh, has been pushed, with fellow beleaguered citizens, to the coast. When we meet him, he is living in a camp, helping tend to the wounded and bury the dead, his existence overwhelmed by the needs of those around him.

Book Review: The Expense of a View by Polly Buckingham

By Sarah Hoenicke for the Masters Review Our current political conversation often revolves around the financial disparities rampant in American culture. Polly Buckingham’s recent story collection, The Expense of a View, hones in on the lives most impacted by the inequalities this gaping imbalance engenders. Buckingham tells the stories of the system’s most vulnerable—the ill, the […]

Climate Change, Violence: What Can Be Done?

By Sarah Hoenicke for the Montreal Review Sarah:  Can you tell me briefly about each of your books? Roy:  Learning to Die in the Anthropocene is a philosophical meditation, in the tradition of Susan Sontag or Camus, on climate change and how to approach and think about climate change from a humanistic perspective (from someone […]

When the Hurlyburly’s Done: Roy Scranton’s “War Porn”

By Sarah Hoenicke, for the Los Angeles Review of Books WAR PORN, Roy Scranton’s fiction debut, is not a comfortable book. Scranton’s experimental and interesting prose is meant to disturb the entrenched thought patterns of his readers. He defies the American cultural tenet that our military is lawful, moral, and organized, depicting it instead as it […]

The Story of a Brief Marriage, by Anuk Arudpragasam

By Sarah Hoenicke, for Entropy Mag The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam Flatiron Books (Macmillan), 2016 208 pages – Flatiron In his debut novel, The Story of a Brief Marriage, Anuk Arudpragasam has taken one day and stretched it to cover two hundred pages. The plot points of the book could easily […]

Finding New Voices: An interview with John Freeman

by Sarah Hoenicke, for Necessary Fiction John Freeman’s writing and criticism have appeared in many publications across the world. He served as Editor-in-Chief at Granta and was president of the National Book Critics Circle. His most recent project is Freeman’s, a themed biannual literary anthology-meets-journal. The second issue, Freeman’s: Family, is available now. Freeman’s main aim […]

Review — Freeman’s: Family

By Sarah Hoenicke Mine is the only body I’ll ever experience. I am limited by my perceptions, my history. Reading is one way to transcend these boundaries, somewhat, to enter the psyches of others, through their words. Reading can result in an understanding of experiences that can’t or won’t be shared by two people. But […]

Nayomi Munaweera’s Writing Life

By Sarah Hoenicke When Nayomi Munaweera’s first novel, Island of a Thousand Mirrors, was released in 2011, she threw a dance party at Club Baobab in San Francisco. “There were probably a hundred or more of Nayomi’s friends and fans there,” said novelist Keenan Norris who met Munaweera in 2006. Island’s coming out party was […]