EJ Levy author photo

Keeping Alive a Feminist and Transgender Icon


Congratulations are in order for past contributor E.J. Levy, whose newest book, The Cape Doctor, was released this summer. E.J. was kind enough to send us her own description of the book, found below.


I’m delighted to have had my debut novel, The Cape Doctor, out from Little Brown on June 15th, after nearly a decade of work. The book is inspired by the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry–born Margaret Ann Bulkley circa 1795 in Cork, Ireland–a brilliant, irascible, dandified, army surgeon who advocated for the rights of the marginalized and was the first person known to perform a successful caesarian in Africa; Barry was caught in a sodomy scandal with the aristocratic governor of Cape Town (then the Cape Colony) in 1824, and eventually rose to the level of Inspector General, only to be discovered after death to have been “a perfect female” and to have carried a pregnancy late to term.

In the 150 years since Barry died, the doctor has been celebrated as both a feminist icon (as the first female-born person to receive a medical degree in the UK, 50 years before Elizabeth Garrett Anderson would, and 35 years before Elizabeth Blackwell would earn her degree in the US) and more recently as a trans icon. Both are valid interpretations in my view. I agree with biographer Jeremy Dronfield (author of Dr. James Barry: A Woman Ahead of Her Time) who has said that he sees validity in both a feminist and a trans reading of Barry’s life, but he rejects any effort to impose one interpretation to the exclusion of the other or to present one as definitive. Mine is one reading of a richly ambiguous historical record of the fascinating and courageous life of Margaret Bulkley and James Barry. In writing the book, I was aiming for something like Virginia Woolf’s Orlando–in which the protagonist changes sex over centuries–but I think I’ve ended up with something closer to Charles Dicken’s David Copperfield.

I have changed Barry’s name to be clear that mine is a work of fiction. But it has felt at times more like a seance. I first learned of Barry on a trip to Cape Town; as we traveled around the city and into the countryside, I felt a little possessed by that spirit, as if Dr. Barry was whispering in my ear; I’m delighted that others have a chance to hear that same voice now. 

I’m gratified that Booklist has given The Cape Doctor a Starred Review, calling it “Remarkable…Absolutely superb… beautifully written…In sum, an unforgettable work of art that deserves raves.” The book was also named among Barnes & Noble’s “Best 100 Books of Summer” and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.

I hope The Cape Doctor helps bring wider attention to and awareness of the remarkable life of both Margaret and James.


The Cape Doctor is published by Little Brown and available for purchase from Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Google Play, and Amazon.

E.J. was interviewed by SR about her story collection Love, In Theory in Issue 16. Keep up with what else E.J. is up to on her website and Twitter.

Contributor Update, Paul Luikart

Contributor Update, Paul Luikart


We’re so excited to share that past contributor Paul Luikart has published a new book! The Museum of Heartache, a short story collection, debuted this week from Pski’s Porch Publishing.

Paul Luikart earns his spot on the shortlist of writers who can sink you right into the skin of a character in only a few lines. This collection of stories, some almost poetry, captures moments in his characters’ lives when they aren’t just down and out but squeezed in the vice of their circumstances, whether peculiar or mundane. In their shoes, you’ll grapple with what it means to be fully human and come out the other side changed.

Audrey Keown, Author of the Ivy Nichols Mysteries

The book includes Paul’s story “Blessed Assurance,” originally published by Superstition Review in Issue 22. That story touches on the reality of things we may never expect to encounter, framed by the binaries of heaven and hell, alive and dead. It’s an honest and intense glimpse into a life the narrator wanted to escape. Yet we leave the story hopeful. To read “Blessed Assurance,” click here.

The Museum of Heartache is available on Amazon and more information can be found on the Pski’s Porch website. Check out Paul on Twitter.

Contributor Update, Joy Lanzendorfer

Join Superstition Review in congratulating past contributor Joy Lanzendorfer on her forthcoming book, Right Back Where We Started From, out May 4th. In this debut novel, Joy tells the story of Sandra Sanborn, an eager young women looking to be discovered in Hollywood during 1930s, whose life is thrown off track when she receives a letter from a man who says he is her father. Through this narrative, Joy creates “a sweeping, multigenerational work of fiction that explores the lust for ambition that entered into the American consciousness during the Gold Rush and how it affected our nation’s ideas of success, failure, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s a meticulously layered saga—at once historically rich, romantic, and suspenseful—about three determined and completely unforgettable women.”

“From the California Gold Rush to the to the San Francisco earthquake, through the Great Depression and World War II, Joy Lanzendorfer artfully weaves a beautifully textured saga. Yearnings, secrets, and shame shape the lives of three generations of American women as they dare to question the rigid societal expectations that confine them to proscribed roles and stifle ambition. Gripping prose and complex and memorable characters make this shining debut novel a pleasure to read.”

Liza Nash Taylor, author of Etiquette for Runaways and the forthcoming In All Good Faith.

To pre-order your copy of Right Back Where We Started From click here. Also, be sure to check out Joy’s website and Twitter as well as her past work in Issue 5.

Contributor Update, Peter Ho Davies

Join Superstition Review in congratulating past contributor, Peter Ho Davies, on his new book, A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself. Tracing “the complex consequences of one of the most personal yet public, intimate yet political decisions a family can make: to have a child, and conversely, to choose not to have a child”, this novel tells of a “first pregnancy… interrupted by test results at once catastrophic and uncertain” and a “second pregnancy [that] ends in a fraught birth, a beloved child, the purgatory of further tests—and questions that reverberate down the years.” Peter, in his novel, asks and explores the questions, “When does sorrow turn to shame? When does love become labor? When does chance become choice? When does diagnosis become destiny? And when does fact become fiction?”

“A brilliant book about modern marriage and parenthood, about choice and its fallout, that is hilarious and devastating, both true-to-life and a comforting fractured parable for our time.”

Elizabeth McCracken, author of Bowlaway

To order your copy of A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself click here. Also, be sure to check out Peter’s website as well as our interview with him in Issue 19.

Contributor Update, Susan Wingate

Join Superstition Review in congratulating past contributor, Susan Wingate, on her forthcoming book, Bobby’s Diner, out March 31st. Winner of The 2020 Best Fiction Pacific Book Award and the first of a series, this suspenseful fiction novel explores the themes of life, love, death, grief, pain, loneliness, and redemption, as it details “a woman trying to find herself in a town where nobody wants her.” The story follows Georgette Carlisle who, fifteen years ago, went to the town of Sunnydale and fell in love with Bobby, who was not only “the owner of a diner named after himself, but… was also married.” Bobby has now died and “left his restaurant to both women.” However, trouble ensues as a Zach Pinzer begins to want the property for his own project and “is willing to kill to get what he wants.”

“A breathtaking story that will fill you with joy and laughter, Bobby’s Diner is a great read for any book lover.”

Coffee Time Romance

To pre-order your own copy of Bobby’s Diner click here. Also be sure to check out Susan’s website and Twitter as well as her past work in Issue 1.

Contributor Update, Lessa-Cross Smith

Join Superstition Review in congratulating past contributor Lessa-Cross Smith on her new book, This Close to Okay. The fiction novel depicts two strangers and the weekend they share, after, one, Tallie Clark, spots the other, Emmet, standing at the edge of a bridge. The story alternates between the two’s perspectives as they come closer to learning the truth as to what brought them together.

“Leesa Cross-Smith is a consummate storyteller who uses her formidable talents to tell the oft-overlooked stories of people living in that great swath of place between the left and right coasts.”

Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author

To order This Close to Okay click here. Also, be sure to check of Lessa-Cross’ website and Twitter, as well as, our interview with her from Issue 15.

Contributor Update, Patricia Ann McNair

Join Superstition Review in congratulating past contributor Patricia Ann McNair on her forthcoming book Responsible Adults by Cornerstone Press, which will be released on December 4th. The book was selected for Cornerstone Press’ Legacy Series and takes a look at the Midwestern human experience and makes the reader wonder ” What happens when responsible adults are anything but responsible people? When they are at best, irresponsible, and at worst, dangerous?”

With startling honesty, precise observation, and a deep faith in the beauty of language, Patricia Ann McNair creates a world where the so-called adults in the room abandon, lie, cheat, steal. They’re familiar, these faults, you think as McNair traces the delicate cracks and gaping chasms of the human condition, her gaze unflinching, unnerving, watching as opposing forces collide, unleash catastrophe. Especially then. Who, she seems to ask, is left behind and why turn away? In this remarkable collection, McNair hits her writerly stride with a sureness that is nothing less than breathtaking. – Christine Rice, author of Swarm Theory

Click here to see Cornerstone Press’ announcement for the launch of Responsible Adults. Be sure to also check out Patricia’s website and Twitter, as well as her piece featured in Issue 3.

Mirrors and Doors with Patricia Ann McNair

An Authors Talk

Patricia Ann McNair

“Reading to relate is like looking in a mirror; I want to walk through a door.”

In this insightful Authors Talk, Patricia Ann McNair delves into the idea — and issue — of readers and writers only finding value in work they can relate to.

Many times she has heard the phrase, “I can’t relate,” from students and peers in regards to stories. As readers, it can be easy for us to become uncomfortable when confronted with stories that we cannot relate to and we cannot understand, but Patricia argues that it is exactly these stories we need to be reading.

When we read only stories we can understand, we are simply looking in a mirror; but, when we read stories that do not resemble our own, we are shown through an open door into a world we never would have encountered before.

“Write what you don’t know….”

Listen to her full Authors Talk below.

Check out Patricia’s newest work, Responsible Adults, coming out in December of 2020 (Cornerstone Press).

Learn more about Patricia here.

Turning Out, An Authors talk with K.K. Fox and Hananah Zaheer

Joining us for this week’s Authors Talk are writers and editors at LA Review, K.K. Fox and Hananah Zaheer.

K.K. discusses her story, “Mile Marker 232” featured in Issue 18 of S[r]—a piece based off a car accident she experienced in her childhood that has now become a story collection.

She also discusses the journey of her story and book throughout their creation and shares an excerpt from her latest story, “The One Who Hurts.”

Be sure to keep an eye out for K.K.’s forthcoming story collection, “Mile Marker 232.”



Want to learn more about K.K. and her work? Follow her on Twitter.

Want to learn more about Hananah and her work? Check out her Twitter.

Jami Attenberg, A Contributor Update

Jami Attenberg

Join us in congratulating past contributor Jami Attenberg on the release of her newest novel, All This Could Be Yours.

The author of 7 books, Jami has been praised for her incredible works by NPR, USA Today, The New York Times, and Kirkus Reviews among many others. Her novel, All This Could Be Yours, was listed in People magazine’s “Best of Fall” list.

In addition to her newest novel, Jami also has a fortchoming memoir from Ecco Press. Congratulations Jami, we cannot wait to read your forthcoming work!


Check out Jami’s interview, “Plenty of Light,” from Issue 20 of S[r] here.

Learn more about Jami and her work at her website.