Whatcha Reading, Anca Szilágyi?

Every week we ask an interesting figure what they're digging into. Have ideas who we should reach out to? Let it fly: info@seattlereviewofbooks.com. Want to read more? Check out the archives.

Anca Szilágyi is a Seattle based writer, originally from Brooklyn. We said her wonderful first novel, Daughters of the Air, "feels as real and as insistent as the vein pulsing just over your right eye" and was "a creation of unearthly talents." She's been awarded fellowships from Hugo House and Jack Straw, was the inaugural Artist Trust / Gar LaSalle Storyteller Award recipient, and was awarded a grant from 4Culture to work on her novel-in-progress Paralegal.

What are you reading now?

I'm part way through Alison Hawthorne Deming's Zoologies, a collection of essays exploring animals and the human imagination. There's a great anecdote about crows dropping walnuts in crosswalks, letting cars crush them open, and safely swooping down for the tasty nut meat when pedestrians have the light. I'm also falling in love with Tara Hardy's poetry collection My, My, My, My, My, which is just so vulnerable and vital.

What did you read last?

I gobbled an advance review copy of Barbara Barrow's The Quelling, out in September from Lanternfish Press (full disclosure: LFP is my publisher). It's about twin sisters growing up in a psychiatric hospital after being accused of murder as children. It's ferocious and eerily tender.

This past weekend, I also devoured The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin. I found myself jotting down many quotations, but this one is essential: "Everything now, we must assume, is in our hands; we have no right to assume otherwise...If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!"

What are you reading next?

I'm eager to read Translation as Transhumance by Mireille Gansel (trans. Ros Schwartz) which the publisher describes as "half memoir, half philosophical treatise" that "muses on how translation can be an exercise in empathy between those in exile." Also in the queue, Umami by Lala Jufresa (trans. Sophie Hughes). I have a soft spot for precocious 12-year-old protagonists. Plus the word umami and the name Lala Jufresa make me smile.