Zazen, by Vanessa Veselka

Staff Pick

I’ve been waiting for this book to be republished since 2012, when I stumbled on a chapbook featuring Veselka, in conversation, considering the interrelationships of writing, violence, and the body; it utterly blew my mind. Which is just to say, Zazen is incredible and I can’t wait to share it with others looking for strange, challenging, transcendent books about community and identity at the end of the world. Della is trying to survive in an America on the brink of war. Torn between those who leave and those who stay, she finds a small joy calling in bomb threats to capitalist enclaves, but must reckon with her actions (and inactions) when bombs actually go off in the sports bars and corporate parks she's targeted. Della is a perfect window into a generation terrified of the destruction passed down to it and desperate to find beauty and a path into change. “Every generation gets to decide its own relationship with the universe,” Della says. “And whether I liked it or not, this was my generation.” There are few apocalyptic novels which make me hopeful, but Zazen was one and Veselka is a writer I would follow anywhere.