Alice Stephens

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.


172 entries by Alice Stephens

Book Review

Sleepwalk: A Novel

By Dan Chaon

Sleepwalk: A Novel

In a near-future dystopia, a contract killer learns he may have fathered multiple children.

Feature

Reading My Roots

Awakening to Korea with The Grass Roof.

Book Review

Violets

By Kyung-sook Shin; translated by Anton Hur

Violets

After a traumatic childhood, a young woman slowly awakens to friendship and desire.

Book Review

Border Less: A Novel

By Namrata Poddar

Border Less: A Novel

A woman’s journey from call-center worker in Mumbai to successful American Desi is told in linked stories.

Book Review

The Swimmers: A Novel

By Julie Otsuka

The Swimmers: A Novel

As a woman slips into dementia, she and her daughter face the end of her life.

Book Review

Pyre

By Perumal Murugan; translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan

Pyre

A young Tamil man brings his bride to his rural, tradition-bound village.

Feature

Announcing the Adoptee Literary Festival

An event that centers marginalized voices is born.

Book Review

American Baby

By Gabrielle Glaser

American Baby

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

Book Review

Lemon: A Novel

By Kwon Yeo-sun; translated by Janet Hong

Lemon: A Novel

The murder of a high-school student changes the trajectory of three women’s lives.

Feature

An Interview with Melissa Guida-Richards

How the writer's new book gives fellow transracial adoptees a voice.

Feature

Many Stories Matter

How whitewashing marginalizes writers of color.

Book Review

Skinship: Stories

By Yoon Choi

Skinship: Stories

The Korean American experience is examined in this debut collection.

Feature

Bending the Narrative Arc

Learning from missteps while taking the next steps.

Book Review

All Sorrows Can Be Borne: A Novel

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

Folklorn

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

Book Review

The Guild of the Infant Saviour: An Adopted Child’s Memory Book

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 Lady of Zamalek: A Novel

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

Crying in H Mart: A Memoir

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

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982

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

Feature

The Greatest Story Ever Sold

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

Book Review

Aviary: A Novel

By Deirdre McNamer

Aviary: A Novel

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

Book Review

In the Company of Men: A Novel

By Véronique Tadjo

In the Company of Men: A Novel

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

Book Review

Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir

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

Book Review

American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption

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

Feature

Readerly Riches

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 Adoption

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

Jillian in the Borderlands

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

Feature

See Your Byline in Bloom!

The online literary journal seeks later-blossoming writers.

Book Review

Living Color: Angie Rubio Stories

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

Feature

American Dissonance

Isn’t it time politics caught up to culture?

Book Review

The Disaster Tourist: A Novel

By Yun Ko-eun; translated by Lizzie Buehler

The Disaster Tourist: A Novel

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

Feature

An Interview with JS Lee

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

Feature

The Original Cancel Culture

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

Feature

An Interview with Donna Hemans

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

Book Review

Fantasy

By Kim-Anh Schreiber

Fantasy

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

Book Review

Why We Swim

By Bonnie Tsui

Why We Swim

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

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982: A Novel

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

Feature

With a Little Help from My Friends

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

Book Review

Run Me to Earth: A Novel

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

Book Review

Night Theater: A Novel

By Vikram Paralkar

Night Theater: A Novel

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

Labyrinth: A Novel

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

Feature

We Need More Reviewers of Color

My year in book reviews, plus an important PSA.

Feature

To Blurb or Not to Blurb

…and other ethical dilemmas of the striving author.

Book Review

Accommodations

By Wioletta Greg; translated by Jennifer Croft

Accommodations

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

Book Review

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

By Ottessa Moshfegh

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

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

China Dream: A Novel

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

Feature

Book Review

First Person

By Richard Flanagan

First Person

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

The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth: A Novel

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 People’s History of Heaven: A Novel

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

Feature

Book Review

Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary: Selected Works of Kathleen Collins

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

Book Review

Training School for Negro Girls

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

Feature

4 Novels that Get Adoption Right

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

Feature

The Devil’s Bookshelf

A searing reading list for devastating times

Book Review

Goodbye, Vitamin

By Rachel Khong

Goodbye, Vitamin

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

Book Review

Mr. and Mrs. American Pie: A Novel

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

Immigrant, Montana: A Novel

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

Book Review

My Year of Rest and Relaxation: A Novel

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

Book Review

Kudos: A Novel

By Rachel Cusk

Kudos: A Novel

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

Feature

No Offense?

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

Book Review

First Person: A Novel

By Richard Flanagan

First Person: A Novel

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

Feature

Foster the People

Why writers need to cultivate a community

Feature

Pop Quiz

Time to test your bookish brain!

Book Review

South and West

By Joan Didion

South and West

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

Book Review

One Good Mama Bone

By Bren McClain

One Good Mama Bone

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

Feature

Short? Sweet!

Why size sometimes matters.

Book Review

Good Neighbors: A Novel

By Joanne Serling

Good Neighbors: A Novel

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

A Separation

If love is a mystery, divorce is a thriller.

Feature

Nevertheless, She Persisted

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

Book Review

Everything Here Is Beautiful: A Novel

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

Feature

“The 12 Books of 2017”

It’s a reading guide, not a carol...

Book Review

The Perfect Nanny: A Novel

By Leila Slimani; translated by Sam Taylor

The Perfect Nanny: A Novel

How well do you know the person watching your children?

Feature

The Fictional Family

Novels, adoption, and the power of imagination

Book Review

To the Back of Beyond

By Peter Stamm; translated by Michael Hoffman

To the Back of Beyond

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

Feature

The Unreliable Narrator

Why the Nobel Prize in Literature got it right this year

Book Review

Manhattan Beach: A Novel

By Jennifer Egan

Manhattan Beach: A Novel

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

Book Review

The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs: A Novel

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

Feature

Adoption Porn

You know it when you read it

Feature

Have Book, Will Travel

What to read when you get there

Book Review

Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel

By Rachel Khong

Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel

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

Everybody’s Son: A Novel

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

Feature

Write Club

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

Feature

Writing Outside the Color Lines

Cultural appropriation is a solvable problem.

Book Review

The Leavers: A Novel

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

Anything Is Possible: A Novel

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

Feature

One True Story

A brief history of the tale that binds us

Book Review

South and West: From a Notebook

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

Feature

Stranger Than Fiction

Meet our president: the most unreliable narrator of all

Book Review

Exit West: A Novel

By Mohsin Hamid

Exit West: A Novel

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

One Good Mama Bone: A Novel

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

Feature

Witness for the Persecution

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

Book Review

A Separation: A Novel

By Katie Kitamura

A Separation: A Novel

If love is a mystery, divorce is a thriller.

Feature

The Arts of Resistance

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

Book Review

Transit: A Novel

By Rachel Cusk

Transit: A Novel

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

Feature

An Interview with Maria Leonard Olsen

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

Feature

We’ll Always Have Books

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

Feature

Leading While Reading

Praising President Obama’s enduring love of literature

Feature

Make My Writing Great Again

This election is destroying my work — and my sanity.

Feature

The Unbearable Whiteness of Being Lionel Shriver

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