22 June 12 | Aleksandra Fazlipour

Hi there!

I’m Aleksandra Fazlipour, although I typically go by Alek. Chad introduced me before, but I finally got registered as a contributor to the site, so it’s my turn to do it again!

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.fazlipour@gmail.com) 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!


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
The Indian
The Indian by Jón Gnarr
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

The opening of Jón Gnarr’s novel/memoir The Indian is a playful bit of extravagant ego, telling the traditional story of creation, where the “Let there be light!” moment is also the moment of his birth on January 2nd, 1967. Then. . .

Read More >

Mother of 1084; Old Women; Breast Stories
Mother of 1084; Old Women; Breast Stories by Mahasweta Devi
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

Mahasweta Devi is not only one of the most prolific Bengali authors, but she’s also an important activist. In fact, for Devi, the two seem to go together. As you can probably tell from the titles, she writes about women. . .

Read More >

Tristana
Tristana by Benito Pérez Galdós
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

The prolific Spanish author Benito Pérez Galdós wrote his short novel, Tristana, during the closing years of the nineteenth century, a time when very few options were available to women of limited financial means who did not want a husband.. . .

Read More >

The History of Silence
The History of Silence by Pedro Zarraluki
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .

Read More >

Flesh-Coloured Dominoes
Flesh-Coloured Dominoes by Zigmunds Skujiņš
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

There are plenty of reasons you can fail to find the rhythm of a book. Sometimes it’s a matter of discarding initial assumptions or impressions, sometimes of resetting oneself. Zigmunds Skujiņš’s Flesh-Coloured Dominoes was a defining experience in the necessity. . .

Read More >

Iraqi Nights
Iraqi Nights by Dunya Mikhail
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

In a culture that privileges prose, reviewing poetry is fairly pointless. And I’ve long since stopped caring about what the world reads and dropped the crusade to get Americans to read more poems. Part of the fault, as I’ve suggested. . .

Read More >

Three-Light Years
Three-Light Years by Andrea Canobbio
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

I would like to pose the argument that it is rare for one to ever come across a truly passive protagonist in a novel. The protagonist (perhaps) of Three Light-Years, Claudio Viberti, is just that—a shy internist who lives in. . .

Read More >

The Little Horse
The Little Horse by Thorvald Steen
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .

Read More >

Guys Like Me
Guys Like Me by Dominique Fabre
Reviewed by Peter Biello

We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .

Read More >

Birth of a Bridge
Birth of a Bridge by Maylis de Kerangal
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .

Read More >