Volume 98, Number 2
The third installment of our biannual Summer fiction issue brings together an eclectic mix of stories showcasing a range of modes and voices, featuring fiction from the confessional to the surreal. All the stories here share a disposition to exercising different kinds of tension, which manifests in hard ethical choices, the impulse and consequences of betrayal, even a tension between realism and the fantastical. Complementing the special fiction section is an essay on the promises and shortcomings of English as a second language (in particular, as the language of new beginning for migrants in Europe) along with a photo portfolio on the unsettling sublimity of an evangelical mecca in the Ozarks.
Volume 98, Number 1
VQR’s Spring issue tends to coincide with a buoyant season. But just as the most recent surge of the coronavirus pandemic has ebbed, war has broken out in Europe. Anxieties are piling up, and yet people seem determined to step stubbornly into some semblance of an outdated normalcy. If anything, this spring is a conflicted and bittersweet season. The work herein—including Claire Rosen’s unforgettable cover image—embraces that tension. It’s a tension that animates Ellyn Gaydos’s feature essay on love, death, and life on a New York pig farm, where the brutal and the sublime intertwine daily. Conflicting sentiments run through other works: cruelty and tenderness in a boyhood memoir by Joseph Earl Thomas; Miranda Featherstone’s essayistic reflection on commitment in the face of agonizing losses; Ara Oshagan’s photo portfolio on disconnect and ritual among the Armenian diaspora; and a suite of fiction—by Karin Lin-Greenberg, Evgeniya Dame, and Gothataone Moeng—featuring familiar pasts fast dissolving into uncertain futures.
Volume 97, Number 4
VQR’s Winter 2021 issue engages questions of identity—how we perceive ourselves and others, and how those perceptions change. In one essay, Peter Trachtenberg reassesses his understanding of his father’s migration story—and by extension the man himself—through documents he inherited after his father’s death, comparing the ink on the page to the man in the flesh that he knew. Lars Horn’s essay turns the microscope inward, to look at self-transformation and self-discovery, brought to the fore through an unexpected pilgrimage. In a wry, shrewd memoiristic essay, JoAnna Novak reflects on the suspended joys of excess by realizing, to her surprise, that what she longs for in the midst of the pandemic is the luxuriously open-ended all-you-can-eat buffet. These pieces are complemented by others on one-dimensional narratives, the unreality of social media intimacy, the transformative power of tragedy in youth, and even the unexpected rebirth of an idyllic landscape that had been written off as a site of environmental ruin long ago.
Volume 97, Number 3
The Fall issue features a portfolio by the artist Alicja Wróblewska, whose beguilingly vivid sculptures give shape to the impact of consumer plastics on the world’s oceans. Reporting by Lois Parshley examines the fallout of neglected radioactive waste in Washington state, and how its mismanagement is part of a larger pattern of neglect across of the country. Emily Maloney reflects on the complicated origins of the opioid crisis in an essay that also looks to what might lie ahead for both chronic-pain sufferers and doctors alike. The fiction rides three distinct waves of tension—through dissolution, reunion, and fragile creatures. Erin Thompson wades into the debate surrounding Confederate monuments. Other content includes work from Deb Lucke, Lenore Myka, and SeongEun Macfarlane; essays by James McWilliams and Raj Telhan; and poetry by Anders Carlson-Wee, Didi Jackson, Sally Wen Mao, Michael Martella, and Jason Schneiderman.
Volume 97, Number 2
Our Summer issue deconstructs notions of leisure and freedom. In our cover story, Erika Meitner and Anna Maria Barry-Jester ruminate on Miami’s changing landscape as sea levels rise. Elias Rodriques observes a mother’s complicated repatriation to Jamaica; Rachel Greenwald Smith confronts privilege in lockdown; and Terrance Hayes imagines a Jasper Johns exhibit within a radically transformed White House art space. Other features include a portfolio of Elise Engler’s daily illustrations of the news; fiction by Claire Boyles, Nina MacLaughlin, and Erin Kate Ryan; and poetry by Ama Codjoe, Airea D. Matthews, Christopher Soto, and Tomás Q. Morín.
Volume 97, Number 1
This issue marks the first anniversary of the coronavirus through features that share themes of separation and dissonance—both physical and ideological, personal and public. Features include Dina Litovsky’s photo essay on the atmosphere of Manhattan’s first lockdown last spring; May Jeong’s report on the repatriation of Afghan migrants to a home country they barely know; Ryan Bradley on the worlds we find underground, which few of us even know about; T Kira Madden’s short story on the splitting of a self in grief; and Rachel Vorona Cote on the strange anachronisms that make recent period dramas so unique.
Volume 96, Number 4
The essays in our Winter issue showcase writers displaying a fundamental talent—that of deep, lucid inquiry into widely shared experiences. Julia Cooke offers a kind of close reading of the birth narrative—its power and its politics; Pamela Erens mines fresh critical insight from the novels of literary phenomenon Elena Ferrante; Simon Han, meanwhile, tests a new metaphor—that of sleepwalking—for the experience of living through 2020; and in the final installment of his borderlands trilogy, Francisco Cantú explores the origins and cultural power of Tejano-music titan Selena. Other features include a story, reported in collaboration with the Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN), on the growing popularity of homesteading in the age of the pandemic; photographer Brian Palmer’s sublimely rendered visual documentary of forgotten African American burial grounds; and fiction and poetry that forgo convention for more adventurous constructions of interior life. (Cover Art: Hudson Christie)
Volume 96, Number 3
This far into a century of upheavals, what does it mean to practice citizenship? How have our expectations—of our neighbors, of our institutions, of ourselves—evolved to respond to the influences of the age we live in? Can the ideals of citizenship transcend national interests? The Fall issue on citizenship in our century is neither prescriptive nor comprehensive, but exploratory, holding up the concept of citizenship to see the truths refracted through it. Through reporting, fiction, poetry, photography, and even fable, we ask questions that are vital to understanding the ways in which citizenship reaches through daily lived experience.
Volume 96, Number 2
This issue, the second of our summer-fiction biennial collection, landing in a year of surreal global emergency and sustained anxiety, celebrates the power of fiction to fortify our human connections from afar, and to expand our sense of self. It also features a vital selection of poetry, essays, criticism, and comics, as well as reporting on how a small but mighty magazine works to protect India’s threatened free press.
Volume 96, Number 1
The cover story for our spring issue explores the phenomenon of vicarious trauma among immigrant advocates. The issue also features essays that look at the intersection of disability and desire, the imitation of natural architecture, and the resonance and dissonance between imagined and real landscapes. Other features include fiction by Kevin Wilson and Kelli Jo Ford; poetry by Joy Priest and Kevin Young; and art by Stu Sherman and Beverly Acha.