When I was sixteen, I accidentally choked out Brian Herskowitz. One second he was trying to pull down on my sleeve and reduce the pressure on his neck, and the next he was very quiet, face down on the mat. I let go and sat back, not sure what to do.
The Leavers is a dual narrative about Polly and her son Deming. Leon is Polly’s boyfriend and Deming’s stepfather during the years they live together in New York City. He works in a slaughterhouse as a meat cutter. I wrote this scene in which Leon and his friend Quan go to a cockfight early on the writing process.
Years later, a man described why the gods of finance couldn’t wipe everyone’s debt and / start over. Everyone’s debt is another person’s asset. That autumn, the bank did not / call. The bank sent letters in nondescript envelopes. Invitations to pay a past-due balance.
The first drafts I wrote of the novel, then somewhat portentously called American Eden, had more or less the same storyline and structure, but contained a kinetic central section set in Harlem and midtown. In those drafts, my wayward protagonists are still headed for the west coast; they just happen to find themselves with a two-day layover in the New York on their way there.
Terry got his hands out in front of him, telling me not to go nowhere. He starts moving over to my side of the car and I see the two Perkins girls is looking at us from the sidewalk. They hair glistening and freshly parted in thick twists with elastic ball barrettes, like oversized Lemonheads and Red Hots. They looking at me and Terry. He coming around to my window and I’m thinking about them girls watching us, wondering how many times a kid needs to see some shit like this before they give up on the pretty daydreams taped to they bedroom walls.
Ornela Vorpsi’s The Country Where No One Ever Dies (Dalkey Archive 2009) belongs among the very best post-communist novels. The novel, which was published originally in Italian in 2003, explores the traumas of authoritarianism, hyper-sexualized patriarchy, and violence in many forms, offering raw and poetic insights into individual and collective memory, migration/exile, and the meaning of art and literature.
“Who but a maniac or a goddamn fool would sit down and write a novel attacking marriage? And who’d want to read such a novel?” For Richard Yates, author of Revolutionary Road, these questions were rhetorical. His defensive stance came from what he always saw as a wild misreading of his famous 1961 novel.
Epiphany’s Fall/Winter 2017 issue features an excerpt from Naivo's Beyond the Rice Fields, the first Malagasy novel translated into English. The novel’s central love story unfolds in dialogue with the cultural and political developments of early nineteenth-century Madagascar following the arrival of the first British missionaries. Naivo explores the conflict between traditional Malagasy culture and mounting European influence in the very form of his novel, which was inspired by the hainteny oral poetry tradition. Epiphany’s editor-in-chief Tracy O’Neill spoke with Naivo and his translator Allison M. Charette at Brooklyn’s Community Bookstore in November of 2017.
Greatly under the influence of Philip Roth’s Nathan Zuckerman in my twenties, I wanted to create a character that could both stand in for myself as an autobiographical tool and work as an alter ego, a character who did things I would never do, lived a life I never had. The character that was born of this idea was Madeleine, and her name had two functions for me at the time. She represented Proust’s cookie, a portal to memory, and also she was “Maddie”— she was “mad,” crazy, angry.
Like Roth, I hoped to use this character throughout my writing life. I didn’t want to retire her after one book. But when shaping the novella Inside Madeleine, I cut many chapters about Madeleine
There is no better time to read Elena Georgiou’s collection The Immigrant’s Refrigerator, which explores boundaries—both physical and emotional—and how they shape individual’s identity and community (both adopted and home). Georgiou translates the experience of exile as her characters try to find love amid displacement or celebrate the intimacy of a shared meal against the backdrop of unspeakable violence. The Immigrant’s Refrigerator reminds us that “home” is in reality an unfixed, fluid state always being negotiated by the personal, political, cultural.
Buy the Spring/Summer 2018 flip-cover double issue!
Pre-order the new issue by May 3rd and receive 15% off! Use code BREAKOUT at checkout.
The Spring/Summer 2018 edition of Epiphany is a flip-cover double issue. On one side, you’ll find five stories, six poems, and one essay selected for this issue by Epiphany’s editors. On the other side, you’ll find work from the winners of the first annual Breakout 8 Writers Prize, judged by Hannah Tinti, Alexander Chee, and Tracy O’Neill.
Read, flip, repeat, enjoy!
Contributors: Anzhelina Polonskaya / Alisson Wood* / Amber Wheeler Bacon* / Amy Lee Lillard* / Andrew Wachtel / Candice Wuehle / Colin Schmidt / Collin Frazier / Edith Lee* / Elisa Gonzalez / Gabriela Wiener / Jennifer Adock / Jiaming Tang* / Josephine Blair / Lore Segal / Lucy Greaves / Marc Castel de Lucas* / Nelly Rosario / Nicole Treska / Rasheeda Saka* / Terese Svoboda / Yesenia Montilla / Yuxi Lin*
(* indicates Breakout 8 Writers Prize winner)