Back Year in Review: A look back at our top web content of 2023

2023 Year in Review

With 2023 entering its closing chapter, we wanted to bookmark a few highlights from our website over the past year, from in-depth interviews with scholars, filmmakers, authors, and game developers to engaging live discussions celebrating the novels of Charles Portis, feminist science fiction of the 1970s, Bruce Catton’s Civil War masterpiece, and much more.

Below you can browse links to more than forty articles, organized by category, plus a few choice excerpts from the pieces. Whether you’re a history buff, book aficionado, or just plain curious about the wide and fascinating world of American literature, you’ll find some of the most intelligent and insightful writing about the humanities anywhere on (and it’s all completely free).

Enjoy our retrospective, and we’ll be back in 2024 with more great content. Happy holidays, and good reading!

Click the links below to jump to a specific category:

Essays | Influences | Interviews | Lists | News | Videos


“The material uncovered at the Portis home might be fodder for numerous PhD theses, but the discovery only affirmed for me the mystery of artistic creation.” –Jay Jennings on Charles Portis

Notes on Charles Portis’s notes: Jay Jennings pores over a cache of papers by America’s “least-known great writer”

David W. Blight on Frederick Douglass, “prose poet of American democracy”

“Where Were You?”: JFK’s Assassination in the Annals of American Literature

“It’s Not Shrill, It’s Ultrasonic”: Queer SF Pioneer Joanna Russ’s Feminist Awakening

“She Knows So Much of Love”: Charting Playwright Adrienne Kennedy’s Reverence for the World around Her

“A forceful style, an urgent style”: Norman Mailer at 100

Hear from contemporary writers on the works of American literature that inspired them.

“It was freeing for me to read about characters who unabashedly chose to be alone instead of changing themselves for their community.” –Nghiem Tran on Shirley Jackson

The haunted house and the freedom of isolation: Nghiem Tran on how Shirley Jackson inspired his mesmeric debut

“Writing without trying to find solutions”: debut novelist Farah Ali on the authors who nourish her imagination

“An olive branch and a survival tool”: Raj Tawney on Madhur Jaffrey’s classic cookbook An Invitation to Indian Cooking

“She wrote about subjects you weren’t supposed to write poems about”: Sarah Bridgins on the works that inspired her gut-punch debut collection

Monsters author Claire Dederer on the “brilliant, fierce urgency” of Pearl Cleage’s Mad at Miles

“A clear voice tends to be contagious.” Biography of X author Catherine Lacey on the mysteries of influence

Kevin Maloney: learning to dress up tragedy in fiction and “serve it to the reader in the form of dark comedy”

Marisa Crane: five works that inspired them to create “a complex dystopian world that runs on people’s shame”


“Williams is taking a page out of the playbook of systemic racism, which is that the way to really assert your power over people is to get in their heads and never let them prove one way or another what the full extent of your power means.” –Merve Emre on John A. Williams

Moby-Reddick: Merve Emre on John A. Williams’s Great American Novel

Alfred Bendixen on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s haunted tales and utopian visions

Book Madness author Denise Gigante on the obsessive 19th-century bibliomaniacs who “lived in and through books”

The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley: David Waldstreicher on a revolutionary poet

Lisa Yaszek on “the watershed moment” of 1970s feminist science fiction

The Forest Cathedral, an environmental adventure where you play as Rachel Carson

Mark Osteen on the apocalyptic satire and historical panorama of Don DeLillo

The Wounded World: Chad L. Williams on a lost masterwork by W.E.B. Du Bois

“America is nothing if not a polyphony”: author Tom Piazza imagines the greatest literary conference that never happened

“Something entirely new grows up out of that rich darkness”: David Naimon on Ursula K. Le Guin’s mesmerizing poetry

“Natural magic”: Philip Davis on the unapologetic heart-work of Bernard Malamud

“Experimental in the Fullest Sense”: Marc Robinson on the Convention-Shattering Works of Adrienne Kennedy

“Every Variety of Madness and Malevolence”: Geoffrey O’Brien on American Crime Fiction in the 1960s

“She Served Me Elk Once”: Documentarian Arwen Curry on Her Decade-Long Encounter with Ursula K. Le Guin

“Extremely Orderly and Uncrazy”: Benjamin Taylor on His Revelatory New Biography of Willa Cather

“When you’re filming, it’s always kind of heightened. You’re on and your entire crew is on because you want to capture everything through the lens of the camera. But there are all the in-between parts as well, and she and I spent a lot of time talking.” –Arwen Curry on Ursula K. Le Guin

LOA LIVE: Top 10 Programs of All Time

Forty Years of the LOA Series: Top Volumes 1982–2022

LOA Celebrates 40 Years: Literary Luminaries Reflect on the Writers Whose Work Shaped Their Own

Remembering Christopher Carduff: 1956–2023

Bringing Poetry Off the Page: Letras Latinas Interviews LOA’s Susana Plotts-Pineda

“In many works Kennedy turns the entire stage into a surface for collage.” –Marc Robinson on Adrienne Kennedy

Over the past year, we hosted eleven LOA LIVE programs featuring discussions with scholars, writers, and editors. Browse the complete list of past events, and follow us on YouTube and Spotify to get the latest episodes as soon as they’re posted.

I’m Dreaming of a Noir Christmas: Classic Crime Thrillers of the 1960s

Black Writers in Paris, the FBI, and a Lost 1960s Classic: Rediscovering The Man Who Cried I Am

The Startling Theater of Adrienne Kennedy

The Mysterious Greatness of Gatsby

A Celebration of Ray Bradbury

Rediscovering the Pathbreaking Fiction of Nancy Hale with Kate Bolick

“The Best American Writer You’ve Never Heard Of”: A Tribute to Charles Portis

Small Miracles: The Stories of Bernard Malamud

Back to the Future Is Female!

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Ordinary Heroes: Bruce Catton’s Civil War Masterpiece

“Not only did [Russ] write books and stories that she would have liked to read as a girl, struggling with her gender and sexuality, but also ones that unrelentingly held American society, as well as the science fiction community, to account for its inequities and hypocrisy.” –Nicole Rudick on Joanna Russ

Did you enjoy LOA’s web content in 2023? If so, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our work.

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