I started doing an independent study at Open Letter in January in an attempt to fill out a Creative Writing minor that I took alongside two degrees: one in Brain and Cognitive Science, and the other in Linguistics. I’ve always loved to read, and I’m a native speaker of Polish, so it just seemed natural to get some credits for reading and reviewing translated works.
I expected to like it.
I didn’t expect to fall in love with it. It was classwork, after all. . .
But all of a sudden, my assignments didn’t feel like homework anymore. Granted, it was terrifying at first to have my reviews ripped to shreds by Chad, but I got over that quickly, and I still am surprised and exhilarated whenever I see one of my own reviews online. And they are much better than they started out as, courtesy of all of Chad’s advice!
So when the opportunity to intern at Open Letter was presented to me, I snatched it right up.
Now, having graduated from the University of Rochester, here I am! I’ll be taking over as the threepercent book review editor until the end of August.
If what I’ll be doing for the rest of the summer is anything like what I’ve been doing thus far, it’ll include a lot of coffee-drinking and copious soaking-up-of incredible books. It’s an added bonus to be able to get an early peek at the wonderful reviews I’ll be posting throughout the summer.
Sometimes I also stick labels to books and envelopes and send out stuff. Surprisingly, I enjoy that. It reminds me of sticker books.
Some random things about me: I bop around Open Letter wearing teddy bear sweaters and blouses embroidered to look like a Lite Brite. And I wear big glasses. I am often hard to overlook. In my free time I write short stories. I am handy with spreadsheets. I like kittens until I start sneezing because of said kittens, and then I like them decidedly less. Sometimes I’m too brutally honest for my own good and for other people’s feelings. It hasn’t become a huge problem yet. Nothing wrong with being passionate, right? I’d like to think it shows in my reviews.
Most of all though, I really adore working at Open Letter, and I hope that shows too! Feel free to comment here or send me an email (Aleksandra.firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions or concerns about any of my posts, or if you just want to chat! I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can.
‘Til then, enjoy threepercent!
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .
Last year, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was an unexpected critical hit. Now, it’s just been published in the U.S. and has already received a great deal of positive critical attention. The Vegetarian was a bold book to attempt as an. . .
It’s been almost a year since the publication of Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, but despite being included on the 2015 PEN Translation award longlist, and some pretty vocal support from key indie presses, the book has. . .
Jorge Eduardo Benavides’ novel La paz de los vencidos (The Peace of the Defeated) takes the form of a diary written by a nameless Peruvian thirty-something intellectual slumming it in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands. Recently relocated. . .
Anyone with any interest at all in contemporary Moroccan writing must start with Souffles. A cultural and political journal, Souffles (the French word for “breaths”) was founded in 1966 by Abdellatif Laâbi and Mostafa Nissabouri. Run by a group of. . .
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .