Alice Stephens

From editorial assistant to copy editor to freelance travel writer, Alice Stephens has had a long and varied career working with the written word. Born in Korea, she has lived on four continents, most recently in Japan, and traveled extensively around the world. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her husband and two sons. Her column, Alice in Wordland, is a regular feature on the Independent’s Books Blog. Be a pioneer and follow her on Twitter at @AliceKSStephens.


99 entries by Alice Stephens

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Novels, adoption, and the power of imagination

Book Review

To the Back of Beyond

By Peter Stamm; translated by Michael Hoffman

Without so much as a goodbye, a Swiss man leaves his wife and family to become a vagabond

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Why the Nobel Prize in Literature got it right this year

Book Review

Manhattan Beach: A Novel

By Jennifer Egan

A young woman perseveres to become a diver at the Brooklyn Naval Yard during World War II.

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The patriarch of a Midwestern family scarred by addiction reaches the end of his life.

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You know it when you read it

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What to read when you get there

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Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel

By Rachel Khong

A young woman returns home to care for her ailing father in this millennial coming-of-age story.

Book Review

Everybody’s Son: A Novel

By Thrity Umrigar

The past comes back to haunt a biracial man adopted into a prominent white family.

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The first rule? What happens in group stays in group.

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Cultural appropriation is a solvable problem.

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In this tale of immigrants and adoptees, a mother and her son are reunited after a decade of living apart.

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Anything Is Possible: A Novel

By Elizabeth Strout

Intricately linked stories tell of damage and redemption in a small Midwestern town.

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A brief history of the tale that binds us

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Occasional flashes of brilliance can't save this flimsy collection unworthy of its author.

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Meet our president: the most unreliable narrator of all

Book Review

Exit West: A Novel

By Mohsin Hamid

A couple flees home in a futuristic world where refugees are the new normal.

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One Good Mama Bone: A Novel

By Bren McClain

The 1950s Deep South comes alive in this folkloric tale of love, sacrifice, and redemption.

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8 books that testify to one of America’s darkest chapters

Book Review

A Separation: A Novel

By Katie Kitamura

If love is a mystery, divorce is a thriller.

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Rise up by embracing writers, filmmakers, musicians, and others in the creative community.

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Transit: A Novel

By Rachel Cusk

The author continues to transcend the boundaries of traditional storytelling in this second installment of a trilogy.

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The DC-based writer discusses the evolution of the modern American family.

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It’s been tough going lately, but there’s solace in the written word.

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Praising President Obama’s enduring love of literature

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This election is destroying my work — and my sanity.

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The award-winning author seems blind to her own cultural privilege.

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Proof that comics can be literary powerhouses, too

Book Review

The Fortunes: A Novel

By Peter Ho Davies

Four canny, interlocking stories capture the history and bigotry of the Chinese-American experience.

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Thoughts on writing, relationships, and really bad books.

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Read your way to comfort during these savage times.

Book Review

The Extra: A Novel

By A.B. Yehoshua; translated by Stuart Schoffman

A musician returns home to Jerusalem to confront her past and Israel’s present

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A behind-the-scenes look at a rewarding, not-so-glamorous gig

Book Review

Girls on Fire: A Novel

By Robin Wasserman

This fraught, over-the-top story of angst, sex, and deception aimed at grownups belongs on the young-adult shelf.

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Titles and descriptions in honor of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

Book Review

The Loney

By Andrew Michael Hurley

A pilgrimage to a desolate stretch of English coastline is imbued with a crescendo of creepiness

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What good are bad reviews?

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Why going backward can be the best way forward

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The timeless brilliance of Lewis Carroll’s beloved heroine

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In praise of old-school writing

Book Review

The Expatriates: A Novel

By Janice Y.K. Lee

An escapist page-turner about the intertwined lives of three Americans in Hong Kong.

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Make 2016 the best year ever, bookworms!

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Today’s bombastic politicos should give these titles a try.

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Because, because, because, because, because…

Book Review

The Incarnations

By Susan Barker

A man receives mysterious letters describing his past lives in this fictitious joyride through Chinese history.

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Does this pseudonym make me look pale (enough)?

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There’s nothing like those years spent reading to your kids

Book Review

A Thousand Miles to Freedom: My Escape from North Korea

By Eunsun Kim with Sébastien Falletti; translated by David Tian

A gripping glimpse into the horrors of life under the Kim regime and the dangers facing those who flee.

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It’s time to put the standard summer-reading list out of our misery

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Can you match these books' first and last lines?

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A darkly comic portrait of a man and a country stuck in arrested development.

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Mining the water for words

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Diamond Head: A Novel

By Cecily Wong

A sweeping, multigenerational saga tells the story of a fabulously wealthy Chinese-Hawaiian family that harbors dark secrets.

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Another year of VIDA’s eye-opening numbers

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Why four out of five dentists recommend illiteracy.

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From the law office of Dewey, Cheatham & Howe

Book Review

Through the story of one Chinese immigrant, this case study is a revealing and eye-opening account of modern immigration and the true human cost of what we wear and eat.

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Why everything is a matter of truthiness.

Book Review

Outline: A Novel

By Rachel Cusk

A series of conversations reveal uncomfortable truths about the myriad reasons why relationships fail.

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A look at my personal "Best of 2014."

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At its core, writing is about power, not profit

Book Review

Beautiful You

By Chuck Palahniuk

A comic book drawn in words, this is one raunchy novel.

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Why can’t the entertainment-industrial complex let sleeping characters lie?

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Fear and loathing in the age of McPapers.

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With books, as in life, we only hurt the ones we love.

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Which warm-weather options will make the "life list" this year?

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Protecting delicate flowers from the dark, scary world of literature.

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It's tough to see past the publishing world's serious lack of pigment.

Book Review

The Ten Thousand Things

by John Spurling

An illustration of Daoist philosophy, this elegant historical novel portrays the life of Wang Meng, a master of Chinese painting at the dawn of the Ming Dynasty.

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Why are Asians in novels more often depicted as caricatures than characters?

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An evening of bare-knuckle brawling, lit-nerd style.

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In a novel set in post-Tiananmen Square massacre China, the characters struggle with emptiness and solitude.

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When did "Franzen" become a four-letter word?

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A gloves-off recap of last year's not-so-good reads.

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You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Book Review

This sprawling novel of three generations of women whose lives intersect in Shanghai is at its best when the author delves into the details of courtesan life.

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Alice Stephens offers unsolicited advice to aspiring novelists.

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Notes from the inaugural meeting of the Fear No Book: Club of One.

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Fall down the rabbit hole and join Alice in her adventures in Wordland.

Book Review

A deceptively simple story of a North Korean prisoner of war’s search for a new life in his adopted country of Brazil.

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The Goddess Chronicle

Natsuo Kirino, translated by Rebecca Copeland

This enthralling tale of love, death and sisterhood is a retelling of the Japanese creation myth.

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In her third novel, The Mothers, Jennifer Gilmore traces with unflinching candor the long and painful quest of a New York couple, Jesse and Ramon, to adopt a baby.

Book Review

Taipei

Tao Lin

In this age of extended youth, this novel is a Catcher in the Rye for the Millennial set.

Book Review

The Abundance

Amit Majmudar

Narrated by a nameless, terminally ill woman, this novel portrays the disconnect between Indian emigrants and their American-born children and the bonds that, nonetheless, tie them together.

Book Review

A metaphysical onion of a novel, this fascinating story plays with ideas of time, memory, quantum mechanics, the computer age, history, writing, reading and much more.

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Trees Without Wind

Li Rui, translated by John Balcom

First published in 1996 in China, this novel is a spare, elegant and daring satire of the Cultural Revolution.

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Umbrella

Will Self

An intricate and ambitious novel that strives to capture the essence of modernism and its effect on contemporary society.

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The Antagonist

Lynn Coady

This clever “e-pistolary” novel for the Internet age can be read as both a story about one man's quest for maturity and an exegesis on reading and writing fiction.

Book Review

Ayana Mathis

This first fiction pick of Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 is a beautifully written portrait of a mother’s struggles to raise a large family in the face of poverty and oppression.

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Young-Ha Kim, translated by Charles La Shure

In this intricate novel, based on true events, Korean emigrants unwittingly flee their failing nation for a life of indentured servitude in the Yucatán.

Book Review

Scott D. Seligman

This biography of three immigrants from Canton illustrates legalized discrimination against the Chinese in 19th-century America.

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John W. Dower

This collection of essays looks at Japanese and American “uses of history” to shape national narratives about World War II.

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Pauline A. Chen

In a retelling of a classic Chinese novel about women in the Qing Dynasty, the author offers a more modern twist to the ending.

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Mark Haddon

On the heels of the author’s wildly popular "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" comes another inventive novel — the perfect summer read.

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Set in the most mind-controlled state on the planet, this wildly inventive novel examines the enigmas of narrative and identity.

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Julie Otsuka

This novella captures in prose poem form the immigrant experience of Japanese picture brides in California.