Alice Stephens

Alice Stephens loves to read and write book reviews. Born in Korea, she has lived on four continents and traveled the world. She lives in Maryland with her family and their lovable mutt, Scooter. Her column, Alice in Wordland, is a regular feature on the Independent’s Book Blog. Her debut novel, Famous Adopted People, is published by Unnamed Press (October 2018). To learn more, please visit her website, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and/or like her Facebook page. Or else you can just read her book.


162 entries by Alice Stephens

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How whitewashing marginalizes writers of color.

Book Review

Skinship: Stories

By Yoon Choi

The Korean American experience is examined in this debut collection.

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Learning from missteps while taking the next steps.

Book Review

Though based on real events, this tale of a Japanese woman forced to give up her child is surprisingly whitewashed.

Book Review

Folklorn

By Angela Mi Young Hur

A Korean American woman struggles to escape the transgenerational trauma that threatens her sanity.

Book Review

In this hybrid memoir, an artist explores adoption through writing and visual art.

Book Review

The Lady of Zamalek: A Novel

By Ashraf El-Ashmawi; translated by Peter Daniel

The history of corruption in modern Egypt is encapsulated in this thrilling saga of one family’s rise and fall.

Book Review

Crying in H Mart: A Memoir

By Michelle Zauner

The author seeks to better understand her dying mother and strengthen family ties through food.

Book Review

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982

By Cho Nam-joo; translated by Jamie Chang

A case history of a South Korean Everywoman driven to the brink by misogyny.

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Actually, you can’t always open a mind by opening a book…

Book Review

Aviary: A Novel

By Deirdre McNamer

A mysterious fire reveals the precarity of elder life in America.

Book Review

In the Company of Men: A Novel

By Véronique Tadjo

A moving chronicle of the West African Ebola outbreak narrated by witnesses to the devastation.

Book Review

A transracial adoptee reveals her struggle to build a Black identity in a world of white privilege.

Book Review

A woman is forced to relinquish her newborn in this eye-opening look at the dark side of an allegedly benevolent industry.

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The worst year ever allowed this bookworm to achieve a personal best.

Book Review

The Adoption

By Zidrou and Arno Monin; translated by Jeremy Melloul

The grandfather of an adopted girl travels halfway around the world to discover the meaning of family.

Book Review

Jillian in the Borderlands

By Beth Alvarado

An omniscient, mute girl grows up along the haunted fringes of the American Southwest.

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The online literary journal seeks later-blossoming writers.

Book Review

A Mexican American girl grows up brown and nerdy in 1960s and 70s California.

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Isn’t it time politics caught up to culture?

Book Review

The Disaster Tourist: A Novel

By Yun Ko-eun; translated by Lizzie Buehler

A woman plans the ultimate dismal getaway in this dark tale of voracious experiential consumerism.

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The author talks social justice, transracial adoption, and her latest novel, Everyone Was Falling.

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When white people get agitated about cancel culture, I just have to laugh. It’s either that or scream.

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The writer discusses identity, belonging, releasing a book during the pandemic, and her ideal cup of tea.

Book Review

Fantasy

By Kim-Anh Schreiber

A woman makes sense of her trauma with the help of a Japanese cult movie.

Book Review

Why We Swim

By Bonnie Tsui

An entertaining look at humans’ affinity for moving through water.

Book Review

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982: A Novel

By Cho Nam-joo; translated by Jamie Chang

A case history of a South Korean Everywoman driven to the brink by misogyny.

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When it comes to writing a good query letter, it takes a village.

Book Review

The aftermath of a bomb haunts the lives of three Laotian orphans.

Book Review

Night Theater: A Novel

By Vikram Paralkar

A surgeon in rural India operates on a family of corpses to give them a second chance at life.

Book Review

Labyrinth: A Novel

By Burhan Sönmez; translated by Űmit Hussein

A man attempts to reclaim his identity after losing his memory in a suicide attempt.

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My year in book reviews, plus an important PSA.

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…and other ethical dilemmas of the striving author.

Book Review

Accommodations

By Wioletta Greg; translated by Jennifer Croft

A young woman comes of age in post-Communist Poland.

Book Review

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

By Ottessa Moshfegh

A wounded young woman tries to sleep her way through 12 straight months.

Book Review

China Dream: A Novel

By Ma Jian; translated by Flora Drew

An ambitious apparatchik can’t keep his dark past from intruding on the present.

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Book Review

First Person

By Richard Flanagan

While ghostwriting the memoir of a notorious criminal, an aspiring novelist battles for his very soul.

Book Review

The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth: A Novel

By Veeraporn Nitiprapha; translated by Kong Rithdee

This lush, extravagant tale offers a rare glimpse into the torrid heart of modern Thailand.

Book Review

A People’s History of Heaven: A Novel

By Mathangi Subramanian

A group of friends use girl power to save their Bangalore slum from destruction.

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Book Review

A treasure trove of thoughts by a pioneering writer who challenged stereotypes of middle-class African Americans.

Book Review

This powerful collection is set against the backdrop of a changing Washington, DC.

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In celebration of National Adoption Awareness Month, an adoptee offers some suggested reading.

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A searing reading list for devastating times

Book Review

Goodbye, Vitamin

By Rachel Khong

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

Book Review

In this fun beach read, a jilted housewife goes on a madcap journey to win a Palm Springs pageant.

Book Review

Immigrant, Montana: A Novel

By Amitava Kumar

A student from India comes to America seeking an education of the head and heart.

Book Review

A wounded young woman tries to sleep her way through 12 straight months.

Book Review

Kudos: A Novel

By Rachel Cusk

In this final installment of a trilogy, the narrator observes the international book-festival circuit.

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If you’re writing honestly, it may not be possible.

Book Review

First Person: A Novel

By Richard Flanagan

While ghostwriting the memoir of a notorious criminal, an aspiring novelist battles for his very soul.

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Why writers need to cultivate a community

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Time to test your bookish brain!

Book Review

South and West

By Joan Didion

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

Book Review

One Good Mama Bone

By Bren McClain

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

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Why size sometimes matters.

Book Review

Good Neighbors: A Novel

By Joanne Serling

A tight-knit group of friends must confront unsettling truths about themselves after one couple adopts a child.

Book Review

A Separation

By Katie Kitamura

If love is a mystery, divorce is a thriller.

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Turns out, the 62nd time’s the charm...

Book Review

A tender portrayal of the effects of mental illness on a woman and the people who love her.

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It’s a reading guide, not a carol...

Book Review

The Perfect Nanny: A Novel

By Leila Slimani; translated by Sam Taylor

How well do you know the person watching your children?

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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.

Book Review

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

Book Review

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.

Book Review

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

Book Review

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

Book Review

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.

Book Review

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.

Book Review

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?