“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.
When I first moved to New York, I spent hours walking around the city. I had no idea where I was, so everything counted as a discovery.
I first met Kenny Fries at The MacDowell Colony, when he was talking happily about a fellowship in Tokyo starting that summer. By chance, I had already signed up for a hiking trip outside Kyoto and I decided to pop in on Kenny at the end of it. That was the first of three visits with him as guide and companion. I saw how his deep interest and respect for Japanese culture won him the tender regard of people wherever we went. As a fiction writer, I have always loved the way his writing links the events of his own life with questions raised by the narratives of history.
The Chinese often describe death as a walking out of life —
“he walked” or “he left.” A simple gesture, leaving
the room unannounced, a quiet slippage from one body into the next.
My mother’s father died on Halloween. They said
the ghouls took him. In Taipei, a door slammed
shut. In America, I went trick-or-treating, counted
the Snickers and the Smarties, licked my fingers.
They burned his body down to powder. At the funeral,
we lit fake money and paper flowers on fire. The ashes
could have been anybody; I stared into its face.
I’ve heard other writers say that a story starts for them with an image, one that develops in their minds without any provocation. They can spring up like Vine videos, short six-second bursts of an image in motion. That’s how this story began for me. I saw a tattoo, or rather a fuzzy, blurry image of a tattoo, deep red in color. I didn’t know what it was of—some kind of animal, maybe. I thought it had legs, but I wasn’t sure.
The new issue is here. Get it now.
Contributors: Sara Ahmed, Kelli Allen, Hannah Lillith Assadi, Paula Bomer, Jamel Brinkley, Lucie Britsch, Rebecca Durham, Bernard Ferguson, Amy Gall, Sarah Gerard, Shen Haobo (translated by Liang Yujing), Heikki Huotari, Meiko Ko, Robert Lopez, Emily Luan, Naivo (translated by Allison M. Charette), Jacqueline Osherow, Angela Palm, Seth Rogoff, Vanessa Angélica Villarreal, Casey Walker, Jillian Weise