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Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is the author of Harmless Like You and Starling DaysShe is the winner of The Authors’ Club First Novel Award and a Betty Trask Award. Her work has been a New York Times Editors’ Choice, an NPR 2017 Great Read and shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award. She is the editor of the Go Home! anthology.

Articles Available Online


Cathy Park Hong’s ‘Minor Feelings’

Book Review

April 2020

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Book Review

April 2020

Before beginning Minor Feelings, A Reckoning on Race and the Asian Condition, an essay collection by the poet Cathy Park Hong, I sat with...
The White Book feels as if it is being whispered: each paragraph seems to come from some deep and interior place Han Kang wrote it whilst living in Warsaw, though in the book the city is never named explicitly Instead it is only a white city, white for its snow and white for its stone ruins In an interview with Granta, Kang said that when writing this book, she imagined her prematurely dead sister had lived and visited the city ‘in my place’   Photographs are interspersed throughout In some, a woman appears, her face obscured by shadow In others, only her hands are visible She holds a child’s gown She holds a pebble-like object covered in salt The photographs are of white objects, but in contrast to the white pages, they are startlingly grey The specks and splashes of whiteness are surrounded by shadow The woman seems trapped in darkness Who is this woman supposed to represent? The narrator? The ghost of the sister? The novelist Kang? All or none of the above?  The literal answer is that they are photographs of a performance by Kang, shot by the photographer Choi Jinhyuk But within the pages, they seem to carry the spirit of characters — and the novelist herself   The text is a loose collection of thoughts, scenes, and images Few are longer than a page They are gathered into three sections — ‘I’, ‘She’, and ‘All Whiteness’ ‘I’ follows the narrator considering the colour white and describes her sister’s passing ‘She’ imagines the sister’s life Some subsections describe what the sister might have done—having an X-ray, finding a pebble, attempting to befriend a dog Others contemplate white things—seagulls, a dead butterfly, a lace curtain   Both ‘I’ and ‘She’ are pensive and slightly sorrowful At first, this similarity is disorienting: it is hard to see where one perspective ends and the other begins Slowly, the reader realises that this muddling is the point The concern of the narrator is not whether the sister would have been a vastly different person, but what it means to replace one life with another Her mother would not have

Book Review

November 2017

Han Kang’s ‘The White Book’

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Book Review

November 2017

The White Book feels as if it is being whispered: each paragraph seems to come from some deep and...

Growing up, the joke in my family was that I could sleep on broken glass if I had to  Back then, I often slept for 11, 12, 13 hours at a time  If I woke to a quiet house I would turn over and go back to sleep, no matter how long I’d been in bed for  If I woke again and it was still quiet I would go downstairs to see if my father had killed my mother in the night, or the other way around   I stopped sleeping some time before my final year in school, when I was 16 or 17  I can’t remember exactly when  At first I was bemused by it  I would lie in bed and wait patiently for sleep to come  I burned vanilla scented candles and read huge novels, The Count of Monte Cristo, Great Expectations, War and Peace, Middlemarch  Nothing worked  When I realised I was never going to sleep again I was furious  What had I ever done?  So I stopped trying  I drank hot chocolate late into the night and wrote stories about girls who were dying to be saved, but in the end just died  Afterwards, I ripped them into tiny pieces that my mother wouldn’t be able to read when she was going through my waste basket and searching under my bed   I’ve tried all the cures for insomnia – counting sheep, counting numbers, warm baths, hot showers, warm milky drinks, chamomile tea, sleeping pills, magnesium, going to bed at the same time every night, herbal remedies, massage, sex, drunkenness – but the only thing that really works is to stop being miserable   *   As a rule, I don’t do well at parties, but I went along with it to seem good humoured and young, or at least as young as I was pretending to be  I’d been searching for somewhere to live for weeks when Kate’s ad appeared  ‘If you like books and music, we’ll get along’, it said, ‘Must like cats’  I’d read hundreds of ads by then and was sure no one in Dublin wanted to live with a 37-year-old proofreader, not even the 37-year-olds  In my

Contributor

June 2016

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Contributor

June 2016

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is the author of Harmless Like You and Starling Days. She is the winner of The Authors’ Club First Novel...

The Giving Up Game

fiction

December 2016

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

fiction

December 2016

The peculiar thing was that Astrid appeared exactly as she did on screen. She was neither taller nor shorter. Her smile had the same...
Harmless Like You

fiction

Issue No. 17

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

fiction

Issue No. 17

Interstate 95, September 2016   Celeste sat on the front seat wearing her black turtleneck sweater. She had three sweaters: black, blue, and festive....

READ NEXT

poetry

January 2015

Diana's Tree

Alejandra Pizarnik

TR. Yvette Siegert

poetry

January 2015

Diana’s Tree, Alejandra Pizarnik’s fourth collection, was published in 1962, when the poet was barely 26 years old. Named after...

Interview

Issue No. 12

Interview with Yvonne Rainer

Orit Gat

Interview

Issue No. 12

TWO DAYS BEFORE WE WERE SCHEDULED TO MEET, Yvonne Rainer walked into the gallery I was looking after for...

fiction

Issue No. 3

Forkhead Box

Jeremy M. Davies

fiction

Issue No. 3

What interests me most is that Schaumann, the state executioner, bred mice. In his spare time. Sirens, ozone, exhaust...

 

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