Manil Suri on the upcoming South Asian American Issue

“In a time of mounting distrust of foreign cultures and unprecedented attacks against immigrants, this sweeping collection of writing by a new wave of South Asian writers is an antidote that both transports and illuminates. The irrepressible voices within rage against widely diverse assumptions and stereotypes and yet unite to remind us of the universality of the human condition.” –Manil Suri

CQR #23, Fall 2016


Volume 23, Fall 2016

Purchase here

Contributors include: Robin Barber, Andrew W.M. Beierle, J. A. Bernstein, Lisa Bloomfield, J. Scott Brownlee, Claudia Buckholts, Lucas Carpenter, Dounia Choukri, Emily Culliton, Patricia Engel, Robin Estrin, Katharine Haake, Stanley Horowitz, Michael Hutchison, Greg Jenkins, Charles Johnson, Laura Jok, David Kear, Robert Kerwin, Jen Knox, Chuck Kramer, Shane Lake, Dorianne Laux, Thomas Lee, Joan Li, Margit Liesche, Joseph Millar, Rod Val Moore, Eireene Nealand, W.P. Osborn, Cassandra Passarelli, Harry Mark Petrakis, Sofi Stambo, Jim Swierzynski, Jake Tuck, and Ian Randall Wilson.

The Fall 2015 issue of Chicago Quarterly Review

We are thrilled to announce the release of our Fall 2015 issue (cover illustration by Rumi Hara) featuring work by Aliki Barnstone • Sharon Barrett • Heather Bowlan • Margaret Chula • Stephen Cloud • Douglas Cole • Diana Crane • David Downie • Peter Ferry • Mauricio Montiel Figueiras • Victor Florence • Edward Garner • Rumi Hara • Natalie S. Harnett • Charles Holdefer • Gary Houston • Suzanne Jill Levine • Erin Lillo • Julia Malye • Michael P. McManus • Devin Murphy • James Paradiso • Charles Parsons • Harry Mark Petrakis • Nicolette Polek • Trenton Pollard • Richard Rapaport • James Reiss • Timothy Richard • Jonathan Rose • Ryan Salazar • Jay Shearer • Peter Stine • Goro Takano • Barbara Tannenbaum • Alison Touster-Reed • John Twohey • Josh Wardrip • Joe Weil • Luke Whisnant • Jerry Whitus • David Winner • Gary Young • Eric Zurita

To purchase a copy, click here!

CQR_Vol 21 2015 copy




Guest editor of CQR #20, Michela Martini

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Meet the editor of our special Italian issue! Michela Martini, a native of Genoa, Italy, received her MA in Italian literature from the University of Genoa, where she studied with Edoardo Sanguineti. She has taught Italian language and culture at Suffolk University, Indiana University, Cabrillo College, and the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her translations of Italian poetry, also in collaboration with poet Robert Hahn, have appeared in the Chicago Quarterly Review, Catamaran Literary ReaderThe Literary ReviewPoetry InternationalGradiva, Journal of Italian Translation, Italian Poetry ReviewLiterary Imagination, International Poetry Review,Unsplendid, etc., and were anthologized by Geoff Brock in The FSG Book of 20th-Century Italian Poetry, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2014. She is currently working as a translator and editor specializing in information technology, literature, and photography.

CQR at Printers Row 2015!

CQR editors Elizabeth McKenzie and Syed Haider with CQR friend and contributor Gary Houston in the Poetry Foundation tent, Printers Row.

Syed Haider with CQR contributor Peter Ferry, celebrating the release of Ferry’s new novel Old Heart.

CQR friend and contributor Liz Radford

CQR editor Elizabeth McKenzie

CQR contributing editor Umberto Tosi, signing copies of his novel Ophelia Rising

CQR friend and contributor Signe Ratcliff with Syed Haider and CQR friend and contributor Gary Houston

Syed Haider and Gary Houston with CQR friend and contributor Sharon Solwitz

Printers Row

Chicago Quarterly Review at Printer’s Row!


Come see us, June 6 & 7 in the Poetry Foundation tent! Current and past issues, lovely postcards, friendly editors and contributors standing by! Here’s where:

Tent: MM 
Quadrant: 3
Quadrant 3 covers the southern half of Dearborn St. between Harrison St. and Polk St and the two short blocks of Polk St. between S. Plymouth St. and S. Federal St. Look for the Poetry Foundation banner. 

A reading for the CQR!


Eight Chicago Quarterly Review contributors will read from their work from 4 to 6 p.m., Sunday, May 17 at The Celtic Knot Public House on Church Street in Evanston. You’ll hear from:
SHARON SOLWITZ, award-winning author. Among her honors: the Carl Sandburg, Midlands Authors and Pushcart prizes, plus inclusion in Best American Short Stories of 2012.
LIZ RADFORD – Her work has appeared in Prick of the Spindle and AWP’s The Writer’s Chronicle. She is an MFA candidate at Northwestern.
PETER FERRY – Evanston writer whose work has appeared in McSweeney’s, Fiction and Story Quarterly; he is the winner of an Illinois Art Council Award for Short Fiction. He is the author of Travel Writing, and his new novel, Old Heart, is due in June, 2015.
DIPIKA MUKHERJEE: novelist, poet, sociolinguist. Her novel, Thunder Demon (2011) was listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize. Her poetry has been widely anthologized. She has edited two collections of Southeast Asian stories: Silverfish New Writing and The Merlion and Hibiscus. Her poetry collection, Palimpsest of Exile, was published by Rubicon in 2009.
STEVE CEJTIN – visual artist and principal of Hammer & Pixel designs, will read from CQR’s special issue featuring new literature from Italy, edited by translator Michela Martini.
GARY HOUSTON – well known actor/director, writer and editor emeritus of Chicago Sun Times “Show Book Week” and Chicago Literary Review.
UMBERTO TOSI – author and CQR contributing editor reads from Ophelia Rising, his new novel reimagining the life of Shakespeare’s fair maid before and after Hamlet.
ELEANOR SPIESS-FERRIS – noted Chicago narrative surrealist reads from her story, “The Art Store.”
Celtic Knot Public House
626 Church St
Evanston, IL 60201
(b/t Orrington & Chicago Aves)
Ph (847) 864-1679
Sunday 4-6 pm, May 17

The Italian Issue

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The Italian Issue. Cover illustration by Rossana Campo


It’s here! Guest edited by Michela Martini, long in the making, this special issue of the Chicago Quarterly Review is a stunning collection of poetry and prose translations of contemporary Italian literature, featuring these writers, translators and artists: Cristina Alziati • Traci Andrighetti • Jacob Blakesley • Margaret Brose • Rossana Campo • Mauro Casiraghi • Mauro Castellani • Patrizia Cavalli • Mara Cini • Bonnie Costello • Deborah Davies • Franca Di Muzio • John Domini • Fabio Donalisio • Rudi Dundas • Adam Elgar • Biancamaria Frabotta • Adria Frizzi • Sciltian Gastaldi • Georgia Emma Gili • Robert Hahn • Michael Kirylo • Alessandra Lavagnino • Ernesto Livorni • Valerio Magrelli • Nicola Manuppelli • Michela Martini • Silvana Mastrolia • Elizabeth McKenzie • Massimo Migliorati • Guido Morselli • Ellen Nerenberg • Aldo Palazzeschi • Katia Pansa • Gabriele Pedullà • Giacomo Pilati • Alta L. Price • Frederika Randall • Rosebud Rosabella • Edoardo Sanguineti • Angela Scarparo • Olivia E. Sears • Nicola Skert • Emanuele Trevi • Francesco Verso • Patrizia Vicinelli • Patrizia Villani • J. Rodolfo Wilcock.

Purchase The Italian Issue!

CQR reading at Green Apple Books/San Francisco

Zack Rogow and Syed Afzal Haider


Moazzam Sheikh
Zack Rogow reading from “Havana Twilight”
Elizabeth McKenzie and Syed Afzal Haider, Editors
Stephen Kessler reading selected prose poems from CQR #19
Catherine Segurson reading from “Flower Storm”
Evie Rucker reading “The Wonderful Day”
Donka Farkas reading her translation of David Frankel’s memoir “This is All I Remember”
In the Granny Smith room
contributors Evie Rucker and Stephen Kessler


Read CQR editor Elizabeth McKenzie’s short story in The New Yorker


Chicago Quarterly Review editor Elizabeth McKenzie’s short story, “Savage Breast” appears in the December 15, 2014 issue of the New Yorker. Below is an excerpt. The entire story is available here.

“Savage Breast,” by Elizabeth McKenzie

It had been an ordinary day, to a point. I had a headache that wouldn’t let up, and there was a party I’d promised I’d go to—I’d said see you soon to the people at work. But after I unlocked my door and kicked off my shoes all I could think about was jumping into bed. Once I allowed myself to think that this was a reasonable idea, I felt released from the grip of the party; I realized that if I slept right through nobody would really care.

I threw down my bag in the hall. A stale smell engulfed me, as if from a storage room that hadn’t been opened for a long time, but I was too dead to investigate. I groped for the light switch but instead felt a warm furry thing on my hand.

Next thing I knew, I was lying on my back in a bed.

The bed was hard, and there was a thin blue blanket over me. Looking up, I saw light coming through an old-fashioned shade that had been pulled down over a window. There was nothing like this in my apartment. Slightly yellowed, it had a cord hanging from it which had been crocheted around a plastic pull ring. There was a familiar water stain on the shade, a lion’s head coming out of a rose, and I sat up in bed with a gasp….

[Continue reading]

Writer Spotlight: Don De Grazia


An Interview by Katie Alstadt

Don De Grazia is the author of American Skin, a contemporary coming-of-age novel. His stories have appeared in Chicago After Dark, The Chicago Reader, TriQuarterly, and in 2014, his story “Black Was Missing” appeared in the Chicago Quarterly Review’s special Chicago Issue. Don is also a professor at Columbia College Chicago, teaching fiction. I had the pleasure of catching up with Don recently to discuss his current projects and get his perspective on the future of publishing and literary fiction.

Don is currently working on two different novels and a collection of short stories.   Several of the short stories are interconnected, sharing several common characters and environments. He’s also continuing to develop characters he introduced in prior works, such as Black from “Black Was Missing.”

Given Don’s versatility as a short story writer, novelist, fiction and nonfiction writer, I asked him about his writing process.  “When I’m writing short stories, I have a very clear sense of the story’s end, the resolution and the themes, which are the driving forces of the story for me,” Don says.  As for novels, Don states that unlike short stories he “writes on the edge of discovery,” meaning he lets the story and the characters guide him towards revelations and resolutions. I found this particularly encouraging as many young novelists and writers apply the same process to their larger works of prose.

Don also shared that recently, he has been writing screenplays.  Initially he approached them the same way he approached his prose: with the notion that screenplays “are simply just stories.” However, he soon discovered that novels and short stories are very different from screenplays.  “Screenplays are incomplete movies,” Don says.  “The writer is challenged to focus on enhancing the storyline while thinking about elements that do not exist until later production, such as lighting and sound environments.” Despite these challenges, Don says that the technical concepts you learn in all storytelling can be applied to screenwriting.  “You still need to develop an intriguing plot and focus on rich character development.”

Of all the forms he’s tried, which is his favorite? “I prefer fiction because I feel like much of the nonfiction and memoirs out there today are fictionalized. Our memories are subjective versions of reality where the writer puts order into something that previously did not exist.”

Don’s success is inspiring and I had the honor of working with him in a fiction class at Columbia College. So like all aspiring writers, I was interested in his experience with publishing and how his novel went from a simple idea to a published work of fiction. His response was moving. “If you devote yourself to writing a book and pour yourself into it, you will get published.”

The process of choosing a small press or a top publishing house after your novel is complete is more complicated and relies heavily on individual taste. Writers have to decide if they want more personal, detailed attention which they will receive at a small press or if they want to work with a top publishing house, where they might become a “bingo chip” in the pool of established authors.

However, with all these different options, including self-publishing, Don declares that young writers should be more encouraged than ever, as the publishing world is constantly changing forms and creating many more exciting opportunities. “The lines in the industry are blurring,” Don says.

Don recently shared with his students the example of a young adult novel written by James Frey entitled Endgame. The book is set to be the first interactive, multimedia experience and will incorporate e-books, interactive gaming and Youtube videos. Imagine the opportunities to engage the reader using audio and visual tools.

I appreciated Don’s professionalism and willingness to take time to share his insights and expertise. I believe he is a great example of the talent that exists within Chicago’s literary community and I am sure we will be hearing more great things from him in the future.