The following reviews have recently appeared in the Sunday edition of The Gazette. Want more reviews? Check out the archive.

During a sleepless night in her early twenties, writer and illustrator Hallie Bateman had a sobering realization: one day her mother would pass away. What would those first days without her be like? Bateman wondered. What about the 10th day, or the 1,000 day?

Her sadness turned to inspiration, and Bateman asked her mother to collaborate with her on a book. The result is “What to Do When I’m Gone: A Mother’s Wisdom to her Daughter,” a heartfelt illustrated manual to navigating the grieving process.

Written from the perspective of the deceased, and told through punchy language and moving illustrations, “What to Do When I’m Gone” feels less like a self-help book and more like your deceased loved one taking your hand as you move from one stage of grief to the next.

The result is a thoughtful, engaging work that serves as a guidebook, a comfort, and a reminder of a mother’s love. It’s funny, too. Read full review


Literature has the power to connect us across geographies, cultures, and languages, and the seven short stories collected in “Banthology” do just that. From the horrors of war to the challenges of beginning a new life abroad, each of these stories quickly (and sometimes playfully) confronts a different truth about the exile experience. And while the stories are powerful on their own, read together they form a moving chorus that is too great — and too beautiful, frankly — to be ignored.

First published by Comma Press in the UK, Banthology has recently been released in the United States through Deep Vellum Press. The themes of exile, travel, and restrictions on movement guide the collection, but the authors address these topics in various ways. In “Return Ticket” author Najwa Binshatwan takes an absurdist approach, as the main character is subjected to one preposterous travel requirement after another when she attempts to leave Schrodinger, a floating village that moves “through time and space, changing its orbit spontaneously as if it were the sun rising in one place and setting in another.”  Read full review. 

In her new book “It’s Only Blood: Shattering the Taboo of Menstruation,” researcher Anna Dahlqvist traveled to Uganda, Kenya, Bangladesh and India to conduct interviews with women and activists about the connection between money, gender, power and menstrual shame.

What Dahlqvist discovers will be unsurprising to many: “that the unmet menstrual needs of women and girls puts them at a huge disadvantage to men, which contributes to their social, economic, and political subordination in the constant interplay between gender and power.”

“In the long run,” Dahlqvist explained, “by being denied access to education and work, women and girls are prevented from becoming equal citizens. They are held back.” Read full review


Written by great Iranian novelist Shahriar Mandanipour, “Moon Brow” is a powerfully imaginative novel about war and its long-lasting repercussions.

Here is the story of Amir Yamini, a young playboy who willed away his days drinking, reading poetry, and chasing women until, after a particularly spectacular bit of drinking, he attacked his father. This event, coupled with the changing political climate, set Amir’s life off on a very different trajectory: he served in the Iran-Iraq war and spent years in a mental hospital before being found by his mother and sister.

Now back at home with an amputated arm, Amir is celebrated as a living martyr but also feared because of his delicate mental state. Amir claims to not be mentally ill — he says he was hiding in the hospital — but his family believe differently and hire guards to keep him confined to the walled garden. Read full review.


For more reviews, please check out the archive.