Faculty Summer Reading List

Faculty Summer Reading List

We asked our faculty what they’re reading this summer — and ended up adding to my own towering TBR list.


Kyle Dargan

“I’ll be looking forward to working my way through poet Greg Pardlo’s memoir Air Traffic, Hieu Minh Nguyen newest collection Not Here, Tarfia Faizullah’s Registers of Illuminated Villages, Fatimah Asghar’s If They Come for Us, and David Martinez’s Post-Traumatic Hood Disorder. I’ll also be guest editing Best New Poets 2018, so lots of poems to pick through there too.”


David Keplinger

“Anne Carson, Float, A collection of chapbooks contained in a laminated box, it’s a book that studies in lyrical essays and poems the failures of language as well as its exaltations.

Teju Cole, Blind Spot. In my Translation/adaptation class students often create projects that respond with ekphrastic poetry to music, photographs, and visual arts. Cole’s book is a beautiful approach to this problem of the untranslatable gaps and how this tension brings rise to new ways of writing that we didn’t previously think possible.

Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Odyssey. The first English translation of the Odyssey by a woman appeared this year to great acclaim. Wilson’s subtle choices reveal yet new ways of reading the subtexts of this ancient epic.”

Also on the list: Masatsugu Ono’s Lion Cross Point and Fady Joudah’s Footprints in the Order of Disappearance.


Stephanie Grant

Open City, a novel, by Teju Cole, who will visit AU in the fall.  A meditative, post-911 novel in which a Nigerian emigre walks around New York City and contemplates past and future; every pressing political issue of the day gets touched on, with real complexity.

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday, a novel that places in juxtaposition a young American writer’s affair with an eminence grise and a young Iraqi-American who gets stopped by passport control in London as he tries to journey back to post-war Iraq.  That is, the second Iraq war.

My Struggle, Volume 6, by Karl Ove Knausgaard, the last volume of a 3,600 page novel about the daily life of the Norwegian writer, which as been something of an international sensation as well as a scandal: in German, “my struggle” translates to Mein Kampf.”


Patty Park

“My summer reading list will be a mix of syllabus-planning, pleasure, and novel-research.  Here are a few I plan to get to:

Open City  by Teju Cole. He’s coming to AU in the fall. ‘Nuff said.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. Yes, this is so 2013, but I’m finally catching up with the times.

Nunca Más , a report published by the Argentine National Commission on the Disappeared. I’ve been slowly making my way through this tome, but it’s not exactly beach reading. These first-hand accounts of torture during the Argentine Dirty War show the absolute worst of humanity.”

Dolen Perkins-Valdez

“I’m going to dive into Ibram X. Kendi’s book Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. I don’t read reviews before I read the book, so I can’t really blurb it other than to say that before he arrived, I’d read some of his ideas on the African American Intellectual History Society blog “Black Perspectives” which is outstanding. In my other life, I was an African American History professor, and I get a nerdy thrill from reading the work of historians.

I want to be smooth as butter just like David Keplinger and Kyle Dargan. Uh oh. Was that a cliché? I’m planning to read Keplinger and Dargan’s work this summer to help elevate my language. On my desk I’ve got The Prayers of Others by Keplinger and I’m also going to read his most recent work Another CityI’ve just caught a glimpse of Dargan’s new book cover for  Anagnorisis. It’s gorgeous! The book doesn’t come out until fall, but I’m hoping to get my hands on an advance copy this summer. Hint hint.

Finally, I’m intrigued by the debut author Nafissa Thompson-Spires. Her collection of short stories is called Heads of the Colored People. Who can resist this knockout opening line? ‘Riley wore blue contact lenses and bleached his hair–which he worked with gel and a blow-dryer and a flatiron some mornings into Sonic the Hedgehog spikes so stiff you could prick your finger on them, and sometimes into a wispy side-swooped bob with long bangs–and he was black.'”

Rachel Louise Snyder

“For reasons having to do with my being American and concerned about the state of the union, I’ll be reading James Comey’s memoir, A Higher Loyalty.

And, of course, I’ll be reading the entire lineup of next year’s Visiting Writers Series – which will be announced very soon! But to narrow it down to my three that I am under no obligation to read, but will anyway? Here goes:

I can’t wait to read Alexander Chee’s new book of essays, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. His fiction is so stylized and maximal that it’ll be a mini-craft lesson for me on how his voice works in this form.

I also plan to read Meaghan O’Connell’s new memoir,  And Now We Have Everything. I’m normally not interested in reading about pregnancy or motherhood or child-rearing (if I live it, I generally don’t need to read it!), but this one’s gotten a lot of great buzz, so I’ll give it a try.

And, finally, I cannot wait to read Kate Tempest’s novel, The Bricks that Built the Houses. Tempest is probably my favorite poet at the moment. She’s also a hip-hop artist (she’s just put out a project called Let Them Eat Chaos, which is both a long-form poem and an album). I have been so moved artistically and emotionally by her poetry that I have fairly mountainous expectations for her novel… but honestly? I think there’s nothing this young woman can’t do.”


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