Essays

Since 1980, dozens of Kevin Brown’s articles, essays, interviews and reviews have appeared in Afterimage, The American Book Review, American Visions, Asymptote, The Brooklyn Rail, The Chattahoochee Review, The Chicago Review, Delaware Review of Latin American Studies, Fiction International, Georgia Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Kansas City Star, Kirkus Reviews, Metamorphoses, The Nation, New York Newsday, The Oakland Tribune, Salmagundi, The Threepenny Review, The Times Literary Supplement and Washington Post Bookworld, among others.

Since 1980, Kevin Brown has published in dozens of daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly publications short-form reviews and long-form essay-reviews of recent full-length books, especially those published by small literary and university presses.

Reviews of a single title may range from 250 to 1,000 words. Essay-reviews ranging from 1,500 to 7,500 words contemplate 2 to 5 books, providing readers with a sense of the merits and focus of each title as well as putting those books in conversation with each other, their subject, and/or some aspect of contemporary writing or culture.

Each fall and spring, Kevin Brown scours publishers’ catalogs and trade publications such as Publishers Weekly, seeking to review and make accessible to a wider audience books with literary merit that might otherwise be overlooked.

I hope to continue making essays and reviews integral to an overall body of work. Whether short-form or long-form, the articles, essays and interviews I’ve published since 1980 were either: (1) relevant to a book-length work then in-progress, most recently Countée, Ida Mae, Others: Familiar Essays on the Harlem Renaissance & More (2018), an account of my great-grandmother’s marriage to the poet Countée Cullen; (2) conducive to public dialogue on ideas and issues in a time when people have less free time to read but are increasingly affected by information contained in the books they can’t make time for; or (3) an opportunity to discover Spanish-language authors in translation or to read/reread toward an ongoing exploration of the canon classic reissues of books in languages other than Spanish.

Areas of Concentration include:

The Literary Arts

Sterling A. Brown and Kevin Young - "Broad Noon Daylight: Words in the Mourning Time" - An Essay-Review

Publication:The Chattahoochee Review
Publication Date:Fall 2020/Winter 2021

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Summary:A literary landmark: the biggest, most ambitious anthology of Black poetry ever published, gathering 250 poets from the colonial period to the present.

James Wood - «Serious Noticing: Selected Essays, 1997-2019» - A Review

Publication: The Decadent Review
Publication Date: 7/9/2020

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Summary
Collection of literary essays by New Yorker award-winning longtime book critic James Wood, widely regarded as a leading literary critic of the English-speaking world. His essays on canonical writers (Gustav Flaubert, Herman Melville), recent legends (Don DeLillo, Marilynne Robinson) and significant contemporaries (Zadie Smith, Elena Ferrante) have established a standard for informed and incisive appreciation, composed in a distinctive literary style all their own. Together, Wood’s essays, and his bestselling How Fiction Works, share an abiding preoccupation with how fiction tells its own truths, and with the vocation of the writer in a world haunted by the absence of God. In Serious Noticing, Wood collects his best essays from two decades of his career, supplementing earlier work with autobiographical reflections from his book The Nearest Thing to Life and recent essays from The New Yorker on young writers of extraordinary promise. An essential guide to literature in the new millennium.

"Black Boy" - Excerpt from «Countee, Ida Mae & Others: Familiar Essays on the Harlem Renaissance and More»

Publication: Fiction International
Publication Date: November 2018

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Summary
In 1935, James Arthur Baldwin entered Public School 139, in Harlem. He studied French and Creative Writing with Harlem Renaissance poet Countée Cullen. The following, Chapter 15, is an excerpt from my narrative nonfiction work, Countée, Ida Mommy & Me: A Family History of the Harlem Renaissance.

"The Collective Dark" - Jesmyn Ward's «The Fire This Time» - A Review

Publication: The Chattahoochee Review
Publication Date: November 2016
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Summary
National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward takes James Baldwin’s 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time.

W.E.B. Du Bois - "After the Renaissance" - A Review of David Levering Lewis' «Biography of a Race, 1868–1919»

Publication: The Nation
Publication Date: December 2000
Format: Print & Online
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Summary
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, erstwhile father-in-law of Countée Cullen. Activist, editor, essayist, historian, novelist, founding father of Pan-Africanism, short-story writer, sociologist, Du Bois has been called ‘the most variously gifted writer the race has produced.’ Editor-in-chief of The Crisis—a magazine boasting a circulation of 100,000 during ‘an era of rampant illiteracy, when hard labor left Afro-Americans little time or inclination for reading’—Du Bois played an important role in the literary career of several writers. He published one of Langston Hughes’ first poems. Du Bois was famous for many things. An ability to hold his liquor wasn’t one of them.

"Reed's Riffs" - Ishmael Reed's «Japanese by Spring» - A Review

Publication: The Washington Post Bookworld
Publication Date: March 1993
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Summary
Japanese by Spring is a 1993 novel by American author Ishmael Reed. It is a campus novel and satire of American university culture, particularly the culture wars. It was reviewed in several major national newspapers and magazines, and its themes of multiculturalism and multilingualism have been the subject of academic analysis.

«Liberators: Fighting on Two Fronts in World War II» - A Review of William Miles and Nina Rosenblum

Publication: New York Newsday
Publication Date: 1991
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Barry Unsworth - «Sacred Hunger» - A Review

Publication: New York Newsday
Publication Date: 1992

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Summary
Sacred Hunger is a historical novel by Barry Unsworth first published in 1992. It shared the Booker Prize that year with Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient.

The unknown story of African-American battalions, focusing on the heroic actions of the 761st, which spearheaded General Patton’s third Army and helped liberate concentration camps. This powerful film vividly records the experiences of the soldiers, who were utterly unprepared for the atrocities they witnessed, as well as the astonishment of the camp inmates – some of whom had never seen a black person before. LIBERATORS bears witness to the courage of Holocaust survivors and the heroism of men who were forced to fight on two fronts – battling discrimination at home as they fought for their country overseas.

William Zinsser - «Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir» - A Review

Publication: Kirkus Reviews
Publication Date: September 1987
Format: Hard Cover/Trade Paper
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Summary
The anthologist of Extraordinary Lives repeats his formula in this collection of writers’ reminiscences of how their books of memoir came into being.

Calvin Coolidge Hernton - «The Sexual Mountain and Black Women Writers» - A Review

Publication: Kirkus Reviews
Publication Date: September 1987
Format: Print & Online
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Summary
A rap on race, politics and black feminist literature by the author of Sex and Racism in America (1965).

Christina Stead - «I’m Dying Laughing» A Review of the Australian Novelist

Publication: Kirkus Reviews
Publication Date: September 1, 1987
Format: Print & Online
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Summary
The Man Who Loved Children is a 1940 novel by Australian writer Christina Stead. It was not until a reissue edition in 1965, with an introduction by poet Randall Jarrell, that it found widespread critical acclaim and popularity. Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.[1] The novel has been championed by novelists Robert Stone, Jonathan Franzen and Angela Carter. Carter believed Stead’s other novels Cotters England; A Little Tea, A Little Chat; and For Love Alone to be as good, if not better than The Man Who Loved Children. – Wikipedia

Archibald Cox - «The Supreme Court & The U.S. Constitution» - A Review

Publication: Kirkus Reviews
Publication Date: August 1987
Format: Hard Cover/Trade Paper
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Summary
By the author of The Warren Court, an evolutionary history of the Supreme Court as ultimate interpreter of the Constitution.

«Africa Tomorrow» - Edem Kodjo - A Review

Publication: Kirkus Reviews
Publication Date: July 24, 1987
Format: Print & Online
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Summary
From the ex-Secretary of the Organization of African Unity, a heralding of the continent’s political and socioeconomic future as a United States of Africa.

"Wonder Currencies" - A Review of Janet Frame's «Owls Do Cry»

Publication: Times Literary Supplement
Publication Date: October/November 1985
Format: TLS Digitized Print Archive
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Summary
Owls Do Cry, first published in 1957, tells of the Withers siblings, Daphne, Chicks, Toby and Francie, and their struggles with financial instability, mental health, disability and grief. In some quarters, it is considered the first great New Zealand novel and a modernist masterpiece. Brown, Kevin. “Wonder currencies.” The Times Literary Supplement, no. 4311, 15 Nov. 1985, p. 1295. The Times Literary Supplement Historical Archive, 1902-2014.

«Spunk: Selected Stories of Zora Neale Hurston» - A Review

Publication: The Oakland Tribune
Publication Date: 1984
Format: Print Only
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Summary
When Hurston arrived in New York City in 1925, the Harlem Renaissance was at its zenith, and she soon became one of the writers at its center. Shortly before she entered Barnard, Hurston’s short story “Spunk” was selected for The New Negro, a landmark anthology of fiction, poetry, and essays focusing on African and African-American art and literature.

«The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Vol. 5» - A Review

Publication: The Oakland Tribune
Publication Date: 1985
Format: Print Only
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Summary
Virginia Woolf was fifty-four on January 25, 1936, some three weeks after this final volume of her diary opens. Its last page was written four days before she drowned herself on March 28, 1941.

"James Baldwin" - An Essay

Publication: The Threepenny Review
Publication Date: September 1984
Format: Print & Online
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Summary
jstor.org

«Samuel Pepys' Diary» - A Review

Publication: The Oakland Tribune
Publication Date: 1983
Format: Hard Cover/Trade Paper
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Summary
Samuel Pepys is as much a paragon of literature as Chaucer and Shakespeare. His Diary is one of the principal sources for many aspects of the history of its period.

«The Letters of Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf» - A Review

Publication: The Oakland Tribune
Publication Date: 1983
Format: Hard Cover/Trade Paper
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Summary
After they met in 1922, Vita Sackville-West, a British novelist married to foreign diplomat Harold Nicolson, and Virginia Woolf began a passionate relationship that lasted until Woolf’s death in 1941. Their revealing correspondence leaves no aspect of their lives untouched: daily dramas, bits of gossip, the strains and pleasures of writing, and always the same joy in each other’s company. This volume, which features over 500 letters spanning 19 years, includes the writings of both of these literary icons.

«Journal of a Disappointed Man» - An Essay on English Diarist W.N.P. Barbellion

Publication: Not Published
Publication Date: 1986
Format: Hard Cover/Trade Paper

Summary
Wilhelm Nero Pilate Barbellion was the nom-de-plume of Bruce Frederick Cummings (7 September 1889 – 22 October 1919), an English diarist who responsible for The Journal of a Disappointed Man. Read by Virginia Woolf while she was composing her own diary, it has been called “among the most moving diaries ever created”.

The Performing Arts

"Ms. Annie, Li’l Robert Johnson & Them: Blues All Different Ways"

Publication: TBA
Publication Date: [2021]

Summary

An essay-review of (1) «Brother Robert: Growing Up with Robert Johnson,» by Annye C. Anderson with Preston Lauterbach, with a foreword by Elijah Wald; (2) «Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson,» by Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow; (3) «Music: A Subversive History,» by by Ted Gioia; and (4) «Looking to Get Lost: Adventures in Music and Writing» by Peter Guralnick.

«The New York Public Library African-American Desk Reference» - Excerpt - “Ch. 14, Music”

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Publication Date: 1999
Format: Hard Cover
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Summary: TBA

«Dance!» - Bill T. Jones - A Review

Publication: American Visions
Publication Date: 1998
Format: Hard Cover/Trade Paper
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Summary
Celebrating the exhilaration, joy, and magic of movement, this book features a lyrical, simple text matched by photos of internationally renown dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones.

Alain Locke - "Harlem Shadows" - A Review of «The New Negro Review Voices of the Harlem Renaissance»

Publication: The American Book Review Vol. 15 (No. 4)
Publication Date: September 1993
Format: Print Only
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Summary
A Review of the 1993 Reissue Touchstone/Simon & Schuster “The New Negro: Voices of the Harlem Renaissance”, edited by Alain Locke, originally published in 1925.

Greil Marcus - «Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century» - A Review

Publication: Kirkus Reviews
Publication Date: April 1989
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Summary
The title here, taken from the 1962 hit lyrics “Lipstick traces/On a cigarette,” aptly sums up Marcus’ (Village Voice columnist; Mystery Train, 1975) paradoxical project–which amounts to fashioning a text on the enduring aspects of the “hidden history” of modernism as revealed in that imprint of the ephemeral, pop music.

The Soul and the Dance: An Essay-Review of (1) "Blood Wedding" by Carlos Saura and Antonio Gades; and (2) "Carmen" by Carlos Saura and Antonio Gades

Publication: The Threepenny Review
Publication Date: May 1984
Format: Online & Print
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Summary
An Essay-Review of: (1) Federico García Lorca’s Blood Wedding, a flamenco dance film directed by Carlos Saura and choreographed by Antonio Gades; and (2) Prosper Merimée’s Carmen, a flamenco dance film directed by Carlos Saura and choreographed by Antonio Gades.

The Art of Translation

"Notes from the Black Palace" - José Revueltas' «The Hole» - A Review

Publication: The Chattahoochee Review
Publication Date: November 2018
Format: Print & Online
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Summary: 2019 will mark fifty years since publication of “El apando”, the 10,000-word story Mexican novelist José Revueltas wrote in six weeks at El Palacio de Lecumberri penitentiary. The Hopkinson-Hughes translation assumes its rightful place alongside Malcolm Braly’s “On the Yard”, Dostoevsky’s “House of the Dead”, Genet’s “Our Lady of the Flowers” and Solzhenitsyn’s “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”.

Gregory Rabassa - An Interview

Publication: Delaware Review of Latin American Studies
Publication Date: December 2006
Format: Online Only
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Summary
Spanish-English and Portuguese-English literary translator Gregory Rabassa published nearly 50 book-length translations of Nobel laureates such as Gabriel García Márquez (100 Years of Solitude). For those lucky enough to have studied with him at Columbia University or Queens College (City University of New York) the following is a reminder of what it was like listening to Rabassa lecture for six months, as he digressed in a gravel baritone from philosophical musings on Don Quixote to slightly off-color puns, to the niceties of literary translation.

Paul Eluard - «Letters to Gala» - A Review

Publication: Kirkus Reviews
Publication Date: 1989
Format: Print & Online
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Summary
A collection of the French poet’s letters immortalizing his great love for the muse wife he shared with Salvador Dali.

«The Borgias» - Ivan Cloulas - A Review

Publication: Kirkus Reviews
Publication Date: April 1989
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«The American Ezra Pound» - Wendy Stallard Flory - A Review

Publication: Kirkus Reviews
Publication Date: March 1989
Format: Print & Online
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Summary
Yale University Press

«Rimbaud: A Biography» - Pierre Petitfils - A Review

Publication: Kirkus Reviews
Publication Date: October 1987
Format: Print & Online
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Summary
Arguing that, amid all the hagiographies and deconstructions, no tree life has yet been written of the man who almost single-handedly subverted French poetry, Petitfils, a leading Rimbaud authority, has attempted a definitive biography.

Patrick Besson - «Dara» - A Review

Publication: Kirkus Reviews
Publication Date: September 15, 1987
Format: Hard Cover/Trade Paper
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Summary
French best seller and winner of the French Academy prize for 1985, the 30-year-old Besson’s ninth novel is the “portrait of a lady.”

Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie - «Jasmin's Witch» - A Review

Publication: Kirkus Reviews
Publication Date: August 18, 1987
Format: Print & Online
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Summary
Emmanuel Bernard Le Roy Ladurie (born 19 July 1929) is a French historian whose work is mainly focused upon Languedoc in the Ancien Régime, particularly the history of the peasantry. One of the leading historians of France, Le Roy Ladurie has been called the “standard-bearer” of the third generation of the Annales school and the “rock star of the medievalists”, noted for his work in social history. – Wikipedia

«The Course of French History» - Pierre Goubert - A Review

Publication: Kirkus Reviews
Publication Date: January 1987
Format: Print & Online
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Summary
A brisk overview of French history by the author of Louis XIV and Twenty Million Frenchmen (1970) and The Ancien Régime (1973). The Ancien Régime was the political and social system of the Kingdom of Fra evolution of 1789, which led to the abolition of hereditary monarchy and of the feudal system of the French nobility. (Wikipedia)

The Visual Arts

"Conjure Women" - An Essay-Review of «The Romare Bearden Reader»

Publication: Salmagundi
Publication Date: April 2020
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Summary: The Romare Bearden Reader anthologizes writings by and about artist Romare Bearden as well as authors like Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Albert Murray, Calvin Tomkins, John Edgar Wideman, August Wilson and a dozen others. 5,474 words.

"They, Too, Sang America: Visual Artists of the Harlem Renaissance" - An Essay-Review

Publication: The Georgia Review
Publication Date: Spring 2019
Format: Print & Online
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Summary
Taken together, I, Too, Sing America: The Harlem Renaissance at 100, along with Mary Schmidt-Campbell’s An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden, are sure to enrich generalists’ understanding of twentieth-century African American art history.

Elena Poniatowska and Graciela Iturbide - «Las Soldaderas: Women of The Mexican Revolution» and «Eyes To Fly With: Portraits, Self-Portraits, and Other Photographs» - An Essay-Review

Publication: Afterimage, Afterimage, Vol. 34.6 (May/June 2007), pp. 33–34
Publication Date: 2006
Format: Trade Paper & Online
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Summary
In November 2006, in honor of its 1910–17 revolution, Mexico was the subject of portraits by two artists, working in very different media, whose political differences are as intriguing as their aesthetic similarities. Writer Elena Poniatowska has moved in Mexican artistic circles, writing catalog essays for photographers like Mariana Yampolsky and Juan Rulfo. Photographer Graciela Iturbide is herself a very ‘literary’ artist as much influenced by writers as by other photographers.

Virginia Woolf - "On Book Reviewing" - Translation from English into Spanish

Publication: eXchanges, the Literary Magazine of the University of Iowa
Publication Date: 2006
Format: Online Exclusive
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Summary
Translated from English into Spanish by Kevin Brown, with dual-facing version.

«Rodin: A Biography» - Frederic Grunfeld - A Review

Publication: Kirkus Reviews
Publication Date: November 6, 1987
Format: Hard Cover/Trade Paper
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Summary
A vibrant biography of the great French sculptor (the first in over half a century) by a contributing editor of Connoisseur and author of Prophets Without Honor (1979).