Fence Books

Hilary Plum

Narrating Forgetting

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Hilary Plum’s essay in the latest issue of Brooklyn Rail, “Narrating Forgetting,” explores the literature inspired by war in Iraq, which includes her two novels: They Dragged Them Through the Streets and Strawberry Fields, published by Fence in April 2018. The essay provides a glimpse into her life and process, but also features a remarkable reading list that suggests what poetry, essays, and fiction can offer in difficult times. As an editor, Plum acquires for Rescue Press and Cleveland State University Poetry Center (also programming the Lighthouse Reading Series) and she was previously responsible for the books published by Clockroot Books, an imprint of Interlink, that was active between 2009-2013. More information about Plum (including reviews of Strawberry Fields in Consequence, Zyzzyva, and Full Stop) can be found on her website.

While writing this second novel I grew preoccupied with how hard it was even to read journalism, a seemingly accessible genre: how much of the work of journalism the reader—and sometimes the journalist—may misread or avoid. The novel moves quickly among settings and situations in an exaggerated echo of the daily newspaper and its disorientation, where the story of a new US drone base in Niger yields to the write-up of a wedding in New York, which yields to a follow-up on the long water crisis in Flint. What happens when the reader accepts a brief paragraph as knowledge? What of the language of facts do we truly hear? These questions begin somewhere and proceed through #fakenews. These questions begin in an appetite I too share, a desire to know, a habit of consuming something I treat as knowledge. I wrote the novel to try to learn who I am when I read.
–Hilary Plum, “Narrating Forgetting” (Brooklyn Rail, Sept. 2018)

Early 2018 Projects

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A Mouth Is Always Muzzled
by Natalie Hopkinson
(February 6 2018, The New Press | Art)
Natalie Hopkinson’s new book considers the possibility of art to serve as a catalyst for political change. She profiles six artists with ties to her native Guyana and shows the risks, yet vital importance, of creating work that challenges the establishment and individuals in power. Hopkinson, former editor of The Root, is assistant professor of communications at Howard University.

“This is a singular book, one that is not conventionally academic nor a conventional travel narrative nor a conventional work of arts criticism nor even a conventional piece of journalistic reportage, yet it draws from all of those disciplines as a deeply felt and passionately expressed manifesto
…an impressively rendered story about imperialism in general and cultural imperialism in particular.”
—Kirkus (starred review)


Strawberry Fields by Hilary Plum
(April 24 2018, Fence | Fiction)
Hilary Plum’s new novel follows a journalist investigating the deaths of five veterans and switches between a multitude of voices that capture the injustice, conflict, and grief since the War on Terror. Plum is associate director of Cleveland State University’s Poetry Center, co-edits with Zach Savich the Open Prose Series for Rescue Press, and is the author of Watchfires and They Dragged Them Through the Streets.

“Few American books have as truly global a perspective as Hilary Plum’s second novel, which ranges over remarkably disparate territories with exemplary economy of means, and holds together not only aesthetically but also as a vision for our times…it achieves the seemingly impossible virtue of being a political book without a hint of polemic.”  —Youssef Rakha, author of The Crocodiles


The Kremlinologist
by Jenny Thompson & Sherry Thompson (March 25 2018, Johns Hopkins | History)
Llewellyn E. Thompson was stationed in Moscow during the Cuban Missile Crisis as Ambassador to the Soviet Union and advised President Kennedy on responding to Nikita Khrushchev. With The Kremlinologist, his daughters Jenny and Sherry Thompson have written his definitive biography, published in the Johns Hopkins Nuclear History and Contemporary Affairs Series.

“Both an intimate portrait and an insider’s account of life in Moscow during the Cold War, it reveals new and fascinating details about the many US–Soviet crises that Thompson helped to resolve during the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations.”
—Martin J. Sherwin, coauthor of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer