An Old Man Remembers Love, (and You’ll Want to Read It)

I made the mistake of introducing myself to Philip Roth by reading one his later work. Indignation, a 2008 novel, drew on some of Roth’s familiar themes—Jewish identity, American identity, relationships—but it had none of the spark I was hoping for. It felt like an older man’s attempt to imagine himself back into first love. […]

#9 – Out of Darkness, Shining Light: Heartlands Best Reads of 2019

As we continue the countdown of best reads of 2019, we come to Out of Darkness, Shining Light by the Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah. It’s a vivid imagining of the company that escorted the body of Dr. David Livingstone, the famed explorer and missionary, back to the coast following his death in central Africa. Gappah’s novel […]

Love And Fire Children: Kevin Wilson’s Nothing to See Here

I don’t know why it’s the late spring of 1995 when Nothing to See Here begins. Perhaps it’s because it’s a time blessedly free of cell phones and texting and the narrative complications they introduce. Maybe it’s because politics had a few more norms such that a main character who is a senator could imagine […]

Long Loves in a Small Coastal Town: A Review of In West Mills

De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s debut novel begins with an arresting scene. Pratt Shepherd is in the middle of a fight with his free-spirited girlfriend in a small, coastal North Carolina town on the eve of World War 2. However, Azalea ‘Knot’ Centre, a sometime teacher at the local school for African-American children, is nobody’s possession. When […]

Dr. Livingstone? Don’t Presume: Bringing the Bones Out of Africa

Even when I was a child in the 1960s and 70s there was still some adventurer’s romance attached to the words of Henry Stanley upon finding his quarry: Dr. Livingstone, I presume? Despite the flood of newly independent African nations in that era, people could still be heard referring to Africa as “the dark continent” […]