Campus & Community

Harvard Review makes inroads on literary scene:

3 min read

Essay and story chosen for ‘Best American’ series

Under new leadership and boasting contributions from such eminent figures as John Ashbery, Seamus Heaney, Helen Vendler, John Updike, and David Mamet – and now with national recognition from the “Best American” series – the literary journal Harvard Review is emerging as a significant voice on the national literary scene. The journal, which features short fiction, poetry, essays, criticism, and reviews, publishes both well-known and new writers – the familiar and the far-reaching.

The creative force behind Harvard Review is Christina Thompson, most recently from Australia where she was editor of the prestigious Australian literary journal Meanjin. Taking the reins from review founder Stratis Haviaras in 2000 when the journal was less than a decade old, Thompson has stressed incorporating a breadth of styles, sentiments, and art forms into the editorial mix. An essayist herself, she has an eye for the unique, and readers of recent issues have been treated to never-before-seen portraits by Ellsworth Kelly, a new translation of one of Korea’s most famous short stories, poems by Michael S. Harper and Lyn Hejinian, and essays from Afghanistan and Israel.

Harvard Review accepts submissions and also commissions pieces from authors. Thompson and her editorial staff pore through hundreds of manuscripts each month to select material. Recently, the journal received national recognition when two pieces first published in the Review were chosen for the annual collections “The Best American Short Stories 2003” and “The Best American Essays 2003” (Houghton Mifflin), to be published in October. Both from Issue 22, Spring 2002, the selections are the essay “Lavender” by André Aciman and the short story “Heaven Lake” by Jess Row.

Thompson began soliciting work from Aciman, who is the author of “Out of Egypt: A Memoir” (1995) and “False Papers: Essays on Exile and Memory” (2000), after she heard him speak at a Partisan Review seminar in 2000. The essay, “Lavender,” was originally scheduled for publication elsewhere but, according to Thompson, “I knew it was too eccentric and too long for most publications, so I just kept telling André that it was meant for me.” The piece was chosen for “The Best American Essays 2003” by guest editor Anne Fadiman.

“Heaven Lake” came to Harvard Review as an unsolicited submission, but it caught Thompson’s eye with its strong narrative drive and cinematic feeling. Row’s work has appeared in Ploughshares, Ontario Review, “The Best American Short Stories 2001,” and The Pushcart Prize XXVII. “Heaven Lake” was chosen for “The Best American Short Stories 2003” by guest editor Walter Mosley.

The Harvard Review is published twice yearly, in spring and fall and is available at bookstores across the United States or by subscription. Subscription information is available online at: or by contacting the Harvard Review at (617) 495-9775.