How his new collection “First Person Singular” represents a life.

Even the most ardent members of Haruki Murakami’s overwhelming global following will admit that the Japanese author’s career has been in a prolonged nadir since the publication of 1Q84. In all objective metrics, he’s doing well for himself: his 2013 novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage topped The New York Times’ bestsellers list and sold millions of copies worldwide despite receiving mixed reviews from critics. His 2017 novel Killing Commendatore was also met with a lukewarm reception, yet the first-edition Japanese prints still went over 1.3 million copies.

There’s no doubt that his fame and loyal fans—ranging…

A pandemic story from Labor & Delivery

I hold her leg. My right hand supports her right heel against my left hip. My left hand pushes her thigh near where she grabs behind her knees. On the other side, a nurse does the same. At the end of the bed, wearing sterile gloves and a pale blue gown, sits a resident physician in charge of tracking Baby’s head coming down and cheering on Mom to push during contractions.

When I raise my head to look at the computer screens displaying the tocodynamometer readings, I see that we are joined by many others. There are the charge nurses…

How Lee Isaac Chung’s film talks about family and love.

In an interview, Korean-American director Lee Isaac Chung said that in writing the screenplay for Minari he was inspired by a quote from Willa Cather, the Pulitzer Prize winning American author of My Ántonia, who said that her life really began when she stopped admiring and started remembering.

The first shots of Minari spell out Chung’s personal and intimate orientation towards film making. We start with a close-up of David Yi, the son, who is looking forward. From his perspective, we see his mother Monica driving and his sister Anne reading. Notably, the father character Jacob is not with them.

And why I’m leaving medicine to become a writer.

In the Fall of 2017, I created an account on Medium and started to publish my writing. I was a junior in college, and saw the site as an interesting form of social media to share essays that I was writing for class (hence why all of my initial posts were about James Joyce’s Ulysses.)

I began to experiment. I played with different formats and topics, although I never strayed far from my favorite subject: literary fiction. Before I graduated, I had amassed tens of personal essays on the books I had read and felt attached to. I had even…

What her 1992 masterpiece teaches us about the soul.

In this interview on Beloved, Toni Morrison mentions her affinity for American jazz pianist Keith Jarrett. The implication of this quiet revelation about the music tastes of our nation’s most influential African-American novelist — that amongst the hot bevy of black musicians who built the historical and technical groundwork of jazz and blues, she likes Keith Jarrett the most — is not only a fun fact, but a reframing of how I read music and racial identity in Morrison’s 1992 novel, Jazz.

Like Morrison’s character Golden Gray, Jarrett’s identity is porous and subject to interpretation. Ornette Coleman, the creator of…

“Convenience Store Woman” and the post-human.

Let’s settle something first. Is it weird that Keiko Furukawa, the 36-year old narrator of “Convenience Store Woman”, is satisfied with her life after having worked 18 years in a Smile Mart, for which she’s never gained a substantial income nor been offered a promotion? Is it concerning that Keiko lacks intimate relationships, that she readily accepts incel-stalker Shiraha as her sham boyfriend, or that she casually wonders what would happen if she murdered her nephew?

And doesn’t it feel discomforting, as a reader, to belong to the society that constantly haunts her daydreams with judgement and expectation? Didn’t we…

Fourteen influential reads, from Morrison to Nabokov.

I set myself a goal of reading 52 books on Goodreads, and ended up finishing 64. Most of that was during my last semester of college, a blessed free-time-oasis that sadly bled into a drowsy summer and then a raging, ball-blistering first semester of medical school.

It was a strange and upsetting transition. Of the 64 books, only 11 of them were read while I was in medical school. I want to believe that to be a doctor, you must be a human first. That should mean having time set for classes, for study, but also for reading widely. …

It’s about growing up in America.

In medical school we have these weekly group lunch meetings with our advisers. It’s supposed to be a way for us, distressed students wading through anatomy and physiology, to reflect on what we’re learning and to connect with each other plus our advisers, people who are on top and can look down with some perspective.

My adviser likes bringing us medical ethics cases, and having us debate the tired dichotomies of physician/patient autonomy, individual/surrogate decision-making, beneficence/limited resources, etc. …

Reflecting on a year on Medium.

On the first of October 2017, I wrote my first Medium article.

It was my senior year of college, and I was taking an English course on James Joyce’s Ulysses. (I was a pre-med, so this class was a major reprieve) I loved writing essays, short and long, for class and for curiosity’s sake, about the novel. Reading Ulysses, and I’ve decided to waive all aversion to pretentiousness in this article, was a walk through a minefield of ideas. Every new thought was followed by an uncontrollable need to write.

So my first few articles, which few of my readers…

This past week I’ve read two, seemingly polar opposite LitHub articles. The first was “In Praise of Difficult Novels” by Will Self, which argues for a return of the High Modernist movement in current literary fiction. The second was “On the Very Contemporary Art of Flash Fiction” by John Dufresne, which explains the opportunities, especially in respect to writing on the Internet, of flash fiction.

I don’t judge a piece of writing based on its length. What’s important is what the author is able to convey to readers within the limitations of their form. This is why flash fiction can…

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