Writing

I write essays, criticism, and memoir on a wide range of topics. My work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, shortlisted for the James Beard Foundation’s MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award, and received the McGinnis-Ritchie Award for nonfiction. One piece was included in Best American Essays 2016, edited by Jonathan Franzen and Bob Atwan, with five others selected as notables between 2013 and 2021. My essays have also been reprinted in Holly Hughes’ Best Food Writing 2017, Jay McInerney’s Wine Reads: A Literary Anthology of Wine Writing (2018), Longreads, The Rumpus, and in the Romanian literary journal Scena9.

Memoir

I Spent My Life Avoiding Thrills. Then My Son Discovered Roller Coasters” / The Walrus
Ziua în care a murit Regina” (“The Day the Queen Died“) / Scena9
Modul de supraviețuire” / Scena9
The Professor” / Longreads
Tongue Stuck” / The Rumpus
Trash” / The Dalhousie Review
How to Learn Everything: The MasterClass Diaries” / Longreads
Someone is Wrong on the Internet: A Study in Pandemic Distraction” / Literary Hub
Home truths: A dispatch from Germany” / Times Literary Supplement
O limbă lipită de cerul gurii” / Scena9
Reading Lessons” How We Read: Tales, Fury, Nothing, Sound. Eds. Kaitlin Heller and Suzanne Conklin Akbari (Reprinted in Longreads)
The Kid Is All Right: In Defense of Picky Eating” / Serious Eats
An Unreliable Alchemy” / The Marginalia Review of Books
Swan, Late: The Unexpected Joys of Adult Beginner Ballet” Longreads 
The Things We Take, The Things We Leave Behind” / Southwest Review (Romanian in Scena9)
Dance, Mama” / The Manifest-Station
“My Father and the Wine.” The Yale Review (reprinted in Best American Essays 2016; Wine Reads: A Literary Anthology of Wine Writing)
Currywurst” / Petits Propos Culinaires
Tasting Texas” / Southwest Review 

Playful Pieces

Line” / Brevity Magazine 
Improv” / Iberian Connections
Shift” / The Enneadecameron

Criticism

The rest of the iceberg: Three guides to writing personal narrative” / TLS
Scratch the surface: What psoriasis tells us about social outcasts” / TLS
Bad Company: A New Novel Strips Away the Veneer of Progressive Rhetoric” / The Walrus
Different words for blue: How mother tongues are lost and found” / TLS
A Family Shatters Along With Yugoslavia” / New York Times
Industrious Habits” / New York Review of Books
Smell the burn: What is the point of physical exercise?” / TLS
The Beauty of Imperfection” / Los Angeles Review of Books
A Heroine’s Journey: On Lana Bastašić’s “Catch the Rabbit”” / LARB
Don’t Get Too Comfortable” / NYRB
When You Roast Your Friends in a Book, and One’s Your Landlord” / NYT
The Flower and the Bee” / London Review of Books
Let us now tell sad stories: Why we might write about trauma” / TLS
Dudes Without Heirs” / NYRB
Time travelling in comfort: An invitation to take guidance from the voices of the past” / TLS
How to Read Aloud” / LRB
In Praise of Solitude” / LARB
Making My Moan” / LRB
Quiet magic: The best ways to cultivate good writing” / TLS
Theater of War” / NYT
Cooking as a profound art: Reflections on the culinary and the literary” / TLS
Heel turns: The history of modern celebrity” / TLS (Latvian in Rigas Laiks)
“Door Open for Beauty: On Deborah Tobola’s “Hummingbird in Underworld: Teaching in a Men’s Prison, a Memoir” LARB
Renaissance Man” / NYT (Spanish in El Cultural)
Physical, cultural, personal: The demands of dance” / TLS
Hunger Games: Three Memoirs Where Food Takes Center Stage.” NYT
Literature as Lifeline: The Exile in “Call Me Zebra”” / LARB

Brief reviews

Melancholy catalogues: Kathryn Schulz’s powerful memoir about loss” / TLS
Out of the bag: Understanding the strange power that animals exercise over people” / TLS
Look backwards, fly forwards: A woman searches for her father – and herself – in fictional West Africa” / TLS
Speaking in Tongues: Paul McQuade’s startling and casually surreal stories about language” / TLS
Somewhat cheery: Hersh Dovid Nomberg’s tales of generational guilt and obstructed love” / TLS
Rings of Sarajevo: The fears, losses – and successes – that thread through a life in exile” / TLS
Stifled by cookie-cutters: Lessons in the art – and vocation – of publishing a book” / TLS
Old love, new tricks: Revisiting a medieval bestseller” / TLS
Homely ceremonies: Seeking pleasure in harsh circumstances” / TLS
Dance Macabre” / TLS
Dance” / TLS
Electric conversations: Twenty-five writers reflect on the magazines and journals they have enjoyed over the years” / TLS
Old English” / TLS 

Column

Eating their words: Physical encounters with books” / TLS
In the family: Our suffocating desire to heal another person” / TLS
Signal virtue: The pleasures of a confusing Old English Saint’s Life” / TLS
A tale of two Alfreds: Burnt cakes and twice-foreign pasts” / TLS
Old mischief in new guise: Keeping your focus in the age of distraction” / TLS
The art of improv: Wobbling through life” / TLS
Plain speaking: How to write well” / TLS
Burnout culture: A disconnect between expectation and reality” / TLS
Beyond the girlboss: On the representation of women” / TLS
Our debt to pleasure: Nurturing delight in a dangerous world” / TLS

Essays

Time for a Long Pause” / The Chronicle of Higher Education Review
“The void that fills the void” / European Review of Books
The Frenzied Folly of Professorial Groupthink” / The Chronicle of Higher Education Review
Addressing toxic behaviour is in universities’ interest” / Times Higher Education
Rereading the Revolt” / Public Books
Queen Kris” / Avidly
Are you a toxic enabler?” / THE
How to Cope With a Fear of Public Writing” / The Chronicle of Higher Education
Get medieval on your haters: lessons from Beowulf and Chaucer” / Psyche
Heroism should not be part of the academic job description” / THE
We’re all Jessica Rabbit Now. Self-fashioning for the YouTube generation” / TLS
Time to Get Over Your Discomfort With Book Marketing” / The Chronicle of Higher Education
Struggling to exercise upward toxicity? Try toxic hypocrisy” / THE
What Academics Misunderstand About ‘Public Writing’” / The Chronicle of Higher Education
Ten rules for succeeding in academia through upward toxicity” / THE
“‘Bio-Nazis’ go green in Germany” / Politico Europe
Teachers and Students” / Aeon
Appetite (and iron-clad stomach) for success. The art of stuffing yourself while chancellor” / Politico.eu
The Curious Appeal of ‘Bad’ Food” / The Atlantic (Reprinted in Best Food Writing 2017)
‘Frivolous’ Humanities Helped Prisoners Survive in Communist Romania” / Zócalo Public Square
War and the Food of Dreams: An Interview with Cara De Silva” / Rumba Under Fire: The Arts of Survival from West Point to Delhi, ed. Irina Dumitrescu
Terpsichore” / Rumba Under Fire: The Arts of Survival from West Point to Delhi, ed. Irina Dumitrescu
Why ‘that’ photo mattered this time: Our children could be on that beach, too” / Washington Post
On the Future of Old English” / In the Middle
The School’s Embrace.” / This Book is a Class Room, eds. Lucie Kolb and Romy Rüegger
Hidden Treasures at the Met Museum” / In the Middle

Short pieces & Forum Contributions

What is the happiest academic career stage?” / THE
A tropical atoll lies in prospect: Twenty TLS writers share their summer reading.” / TLS
My worst teaching moment – and what it taught me” / THE
Are you ready for the return to in-person teaching?” / THE
Moving mountains: the reforms that would push academia to new heights” / THE
Life in the Zoomiverse: What we miss about the physical campus” / THE
Should you be working 100 hours a week?” / THE
A Place of Absence, Loss, and Transcendence” / Zócalo Public Square