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This, I decide, must be how a model feels just before she steps on to a catwalk for the first time.

Or perhaps more accurately, how a drunk feels when stopped by the police and asked to walk in a straight line after one too many down the pub.

The plotline is far-fetched, a bit dark, but not unrelatable.

We watch Dev shift in his seat, his head lolls in quiet exasperation as the car continues on to his apartment, he sighs, and we feel his suspended agony. This scene has plunged me into a season of contemplation on longing.

“That is your homeland: moody, violent, and within arm’s reach.” It’s Alexander Chee’s description in his essay “Girl” of the first night he felt comfortable with his face courtesy of the talismanic power of passing white and in drag. “Being pretty like this,” he says, “is stronger than any drug I’ve ever tried.” It’s not stepping out of the long-parked car.

It’s the story within a story of Idra Novey’s found-in-translation novel, where three-toed lizards serenade inmates of an island prison with samba and maracatu.

And that’s longing: to love in spite of everything we already know. Casey is a writer and educator based in Durham, North Carolina.


She is a Lecturer at Duke University where she teaches courses for the Departments of English and Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies.

“Matters were different for a woman,” Kitamura writes in the novel.


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