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Public Books — Dedicated to bringing cutting-edge scholarly ideas to a curious public Dedicated to bringing cutting-edge scholarly ideas to a curious public Home About FAQ Blog Public Culture Fiction Nonfiction Multigenre Briefs Interviews Log in / Sign up through reviews of today’s books, movies, TV shows, and cultural trends “RT @accommodatingly: Unwarping sexist wordhoards, making searches less sexis...”Jul 28 Art & Media Events Tags View as Grid List Art & Media The Bingewatch: It’s Never Just a Dress Sarah Kessler 7.15.16 On Say Yes to the Dress, the search for the perfect ceremonial gown provokes a contradictory mess of feelings and behaviors that makes the normative rituals of marriage seem entirely perverse. The results, for participants and viewers alike, are painfully revealing, potentially therapeutic, and oddly cathartic—if all of the crying is any indication, at least. More Briefs Feminist Auteurs Katie Fitzpatrick 7.15.16 Dana Spiotta’s powerful new novel, Innocents and Others, is one of several recent feminist works to take up the problem of creative influence. More 5 Today’s Most Read How Spiritualism Spread Trump Syllabus 2.0 Black Intellectuals and White Audiences Murakami’s Farewell to Despair Changing Climates of History Multigenre Foucault and the Fictocritics Allen Shelton 7.15.16 For at least three decades, starting in the 1970s, Michel Foucault was a phenomenon nearly comparable to the Beatles. Is it possible today to write anything about him that isn’t already empty? This is the big question Michael Joyce confronts in his epistolary novel Foucault, in Winter, in the Linnaeus Garden. More Interviews Imagining the Near Future: An Interview with Dexter Palmer J. D. Schnepf 7.15.16 In Dexter Palmer’s latest novel, Version Control, streets teem with cars that drive themselves, identification badges fade along with one’s security clearance, and screens flicker with digitally rendered avatars. All this carefully calibrated speculation invites the question: at what point do we leave the realism of 21st-century technoculture behind and enter the universe of science fiction? More Fiction Building Up the Alphabet Again Anjum Hasan 7.15.16 Suffering is no longer de rigueur for artists, no more a signpost we look to for assurance that we’re in the presence of the real thing. If existential battles no longer take center stage, what does? The Age of Suffering has been supplanted with The Age of Disappointment. A writer’s challenge today is breaking into the market, not making her story into literature. In the marketplace, one can either win or lose. Since most of us will inevitably lose, the spirit of the times has come to be not a sense of productive struggle but of sterile defeat. More Multigenre How Spiritualism Spread James P. Stanley 7.15.16 As much as Victorian spiritualism brought science and religious belief into conversation, its spread took place not through religious or scientific channels—networks of churches or scientific journals—but through the rapidly expanding world of the mass media, a theme taken up by three recent books: David Jaher’s The Witch of Lime Street, Simone Natale’s Supernatural Entertainments, and Samantha Hunt’s novel Mr. Splitfoot. More Nonfiction An Ancient Treatise and the Making of Modern India Ananya Vajpeyi 7.1.16 The influence of Gandhi and Savarkar on the making of modern India is undisputed. But how did the Artha?āstra, an erudite treatise from Indic antiquity, become one of the key books from ancient India to have an important career in modern times? More Feature Trump Syllabus 2.0 N. D. B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blain 6.28.16 On June 19th, the Chronicle of Higher Education ran a web version of a mock college syllabus that sought to explore the deep historical and political roots of Donald Trump’s political success during the 2016 Presidential campaign. The syllabus suffered from a number of egregious omissions and inaccuracies, including its failures to include contributions of scholars of color and address the critical subjects of racism, sexism, and xenophobia on which Trump has built his candidacy. Here, historians N. D. B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blain offer an alternative syllabus in response. More Fiction Trouble in Lovecraft Country Roger Luckhurst 7.1.16 Matt Ruff’s novel Lovecraft Country drops into the world of science-fiction and horror publishing at an interesting time. The fandom around this culture is probably irremediably nerdy to outsiders, but even “mundanes” must have registered something of the huge boom in Lovecraftian horror that has plumed out through film, TV, and video games into the general culture. More Briefs Bro Uprising Ittai Orr 7.1.16 With Pierce Brown’s lately concluded Red Rising trilogy, the phenomenon of the blockbuster Young Adult dystopian novel that brought us The Hunger Games and Divergent has reached its eye-popping baroque. More Nonfiction “The Passing of the Great Race” at 100 Noel Hartman 7.1.16 2016 marks a century since the publication of The Passing of the Great Race, a book described by the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould as “the most influential tract of American scientific racism.” Its author, Madison Grant, a genteel dabbler with impeccable establishment ties, was a pure and unabashed bigot, a patrician who defended social inequality as the outcome of biological fact. And some of his ideas have echoes in those espoused by Donald Trump. More Comment DavidML “Profs Connolly and Blain-- Thank you so much for the work you've done here. I will certainly draw on this syllabus as I construct my own Campaigns and Elections course syllabus this fall. Prof Connolly, your comment at the Chronicle about the initial Trump 101 syllabus was on-point and important, ...” More Multigenre Tales of the Interwar Jan Mieszkowski 7.1.16 In Tense Future, Paul K. Saint-Amour argues that the ideas of “permanent” and “total” war are part of the ideological program of the Western nation-state. Does this mean that contemporary novels follow their modernist forerunners in offering sites of resistance to the militarism of the state? While Saint-Amour’s discussion ends with Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), we would be well served in our efforts to answer this question by turning to two novels published in English in the past year. More Interviews Earth First, Then Mars: An Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson Dave Haeselin 6.15.16 No writer has done more to realistically imagine the development of human life on other planets than Kim Stanley Robinson. Aurora, his latest novel, tells the story of a small group of 26th-century pilgrims who have boldly embarked on a multi-generational voyage to an earthlike moon, and his prodigious imagination offers an urgent reminder that, like the colonists of his novel, we are all stuck together on a single starship: Earth. More Nonfiction Disability Narratives Rachel Adams 6.15.16 Ask most people living with a disability to name their least favorite question and “what happened to you?” will be high on the list. Where an able body may appear blandly ahistorical, disabled bodies cry out for a narrative to explain when and how they came to be. Christina Crosby gets all of that out of the way in the first sentences of her riveting memoir, A Body, Undone: Living On after Great Pain. More Feature Public Picks 2016 The Editorial Staff 6.15.16 Finals have been graded, graduates have been feted, and the days are still getting longer. That means one thing: time to start planning your summer reading! Each year around this time, the editorial staff at Public Books gathers together to draw up a list of our favorite books of the past 12 months. The list reflects our catholic tastes: you’ll find addictive page-turners and heady novels of ideas, gripping social histories and gorgeous comics, laureled best sellers and deserving underdogs. More Multigenre The Thread Carley Moore 6.15.16 Sometime during my senior year of high school, my mother went on a laundry strike. Her goal, as I understood it, was to get my father to pick his underwear up off the bathroom floor, carry them to the hamper, and eventually wash them. She made my brother and I promise not to help him. More Briefs Speculative Pulp Fiction Cecilia Mancuso 7.1.16 Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last proves that speculative fiction can be every bit as pulpy as science fiction—even without the aid of “talking squids in outer space.” More Briefs From Berlusconismo to Trumpismo Alexander Rocca 6.2.16 The Italian series 1992 manages to be both compelling entertainment and a brutally relevant diagnosis of the roots of democracy’s malaise throughout the West. More Nonfiction A Black Power Method N. D. B. Connolly 6.15.16 “Black Power” is not some dusty or even hallowed slogan trapped in the past. It resides in the here-and-now as a set of living political and civic commitments. More Art & Media Roots 2.0 Harvey Young 6.2.16 When Roots premiered in 1977, an estimated one-half of all US television households tuned in. The History Channel’s new remake, an improvement on the original miniseries, taps into timely issues of race and captivity. More Briefs Comics versus Franquismo Barbara Bryce Morris 6.15.16 Carlos Giménez’s comics series Paracuellos: Children of the Defeated in Franco’s Fascist Spain tells stories of a past that some want desperately to remember. More Briefs Chicago Law Anna Kornbluh 6.2.16 Chicago is less the setting of The Good Wife, the only network prestige drama, than the show’s smartest plot. In a city so pervaded by corruption, the show asks, is it possible to be a good lawyer, or a good firm? More Interviews Antiheroic Feminism: An Interview with “UnREAL” Co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro Karen Tongson 6.2.16 UnREAL centers on the complex relationship between two female producers of a Bachelor-like reality show. Its co-creator talks about the new season and more. More Nonfiction The Gay ’70s Sam Metz 6.15.16 If the taglines used to market LGBTQ Americans to the country’s mainstream have led to unprecedented levels of inclusion and visibility, it is precisely by shoving sex aside and presenting gay people and straight people as essentially the same at heart. In the process, some of gay culture’s radical roots risk being expunged from memory. More Art & Media The Bingewatch: “Love” Angeles Sarah Kessler 6.2.16 We’re excited to announce the launch of our new TV column: Sarah Kessler’s The Bingewatch! In this installment, she reviews Netflix’s Love and meditates on the “binge” metaphor. More Feature 15 Great Book-to-TV Adaptations to Watch This Summer The Editorial Staff 6.2.16 Are you the kind of person who thinks that the book is always better? Maybe some of our favorite small-screen adaptations will change your mind. More Art & Media Virtual Roundtable on “UnREAL” Lynne Joyrich, Hunter Hargraves, Scott Poulson-Bryant, and Homay King 6.2.16 On June 6, Lifetime’s UnREAL will return for a second season that promises to be even more provocative than the first. We gathered an ace panel of television and media scholars to reflect on the series so far. More Interviews Jamie Hector of “The Wire” on Acting and Activism Liz Maynes-Aminzade 6.2.16 In April, Jamie Hector participated in a conference organized by The Heyman Center about The Wire. Recently, we caught up with him about his projects in Hollywood and beyond. More Briefs Perestroika Blues Eliot Borenstein 6.2.16 Now nearing the end of its fourth season, The Americans is a confounding success. Eliot Borenstein, a professor of Russian culture and a fan, has come to a perverse conclusion: it’s time for the show to jump the shark. More Multigenre Graphic Novels for MBAs Adrienne Raphel 5.15.16 Graphic novels and business school case studies seem like very unlikely bedfellows. Case studies are a corporate genre, designed to teach proto-professionals how to become the man; comics are an underground, avant-garde art form, tied to countercultural movements that want to stick it to him. Yet both comics and case studies often assume the role of teacher-cum-therapist, demanding that readers engage directly with the text to fill in the blanks and complete the psychological dramas. And there is a small trend toward a combination of the two. More Briefs The Citizenship Business Max Holleran 5.1.16 A new book by New York-based journalist Atossa Araxia Abrahamian investigates how the business of buying and selling citizenship has thrived in an era of growing anxiety over borders. More Nonfiction Live Through This Catherine Hollis 5.15.16 A number of recent memoirs—most, but not all, by women—face down a difficult question: Should we go on living, and if so, what will our lives look like? If terrible things have happened to us, is healing possible? More Briefs Burning Books to Stay Alive in Agualusa’s Angola Katrina Dodson 5.15.16 José Eduardo Agualusa’s haunting, shape-shifting ninth novel, A General Theory of Oblivion, tells the story of a Portuguese woman who barricaded herself in her Luanda apartment in 1975, on the eve of Angolan independence, and stayed there for 28 years. More Briefs Sex, Violence, and “The Vegetarian” Seo Hee Im 5.1.16 Han Kang’s The Vegetarian recently became the first Korean novel to be shortlisted for a Booker Prize. More shocking than the novel itself—which is well-executed but hardly exceptional—was its Anglophone reception. More Fiction John Williams’s Perfect Anti-Western John Plotz 5.1.16 Critics have singled out movies of the early 1970s and some novels of the early 1980s as the first wave of “revisionist Westerns.” But back in 1960, without Cormac McCarthy’s lurid baroque extravagances, without any cool Hollywood soundtrack, John Williams wrote what may be the perfect anti-Western. Butcher’s Crossing is a novel that turns upside down the expectations of the genre—and goes to war with a century of American triumphalism, a century of regeneration through violence, a century of senseless slaughter. More Briefs What’s in a Face? Sharrona Pearl 5.15.16 Three brief new memoirs, by Ruth Ozeki, Chris Abani, and Tash Aw, offer a new way of thinking about faces, as an archive and map that allows us to explore our histories. More Interviews The New Working Class Jeffrey J. Williams 5.15.16 Tamara Draut is a policy expert and social critic based at Demos, a progressive think tank. Her latest book, Sleeping Giant, calls attention to the new demographics and experiences of the working class. It extends research from her first book, Strapped, an exposé of the difficulties that young Americans currently face, starting with student and credit card debt and compounded by the high price of housing and other obstacles. Here she discusses the changing nature of the American economy, and the stories we tell about it. More Nonfiction Black Intellectuals and White Audiences Matthew Clair 5.1.16 Two recent books explore the centrality of racial authenticity in black intellectual practice—or, the belief in a uniquely and authoritatively black knowledge produced by black scholars, writers, and artists. More Feature “Bright Lines”: a Discussion Guide Sharon Marcus, Liz Maynes-Aminzade, Rinku Sen, and Caitlin Zaloom 5.9.16 Next week, the New York City mayor’s residence will open its doors for a book club hosted by First Lady Chirlane McCray. We put together a discussion guide for their first pick. More Fiction Cosmopolitans in Indian Fiction Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan 5.15.16 Two recent novels from India, Anjum Hasan’s The Cosmopolitans and Chitra Viraraghavan’s The Americans, test their characters’ openness to lives other than their own. More Fiction Transplant Melodrama Lawrence Cohen 5.1.16 Maylis de Kerangal’s novel centers on a heart and the events set in motion when this organ becomes marked for a possible transplant. The difference between the quickening world and the crude pantomimes by which we struggle to grasp it may be observed, suggests de Kerangal, by attending to how each of us differently encounters the world in its fullness. Her characters rise or fumble into an attentiveness to life. In a world coming apart, what is left is to repair those who survive. More Multigenre Shakespeare in 2016 Todd Landon Barnes 5.1.16 We’ve always reinvented Shakespeare to suit our purposes, much as Shakespeare borrowed from his past to do the same. Three recent, and very different, meditations on Shakespeare’s drama engage the plays to address these contemporary anxieties. More Public Culture Interviews Rebuild by Design: Interviews with Ricky Burdett and Hitoshi Abe Daniel Aldana Cohen 5.1.16 There is a growing feeling among both critical social scientists and design professionals that the two groups need to undertake a more intensive dialogue. Researcher Daniel Aldana Cohen interviews longtime London urbanist Ricky Burdett and architect Hitoshi Abe about their work, the challenges and opportunities cities face in a warming world, resiliency, design, and politics. More Nonfiction The Bonds of the Sea Henri Borius and Margaret Cohen 4.1.16 William Finnegan’s surfing memoir offers glimpses into the bonds among men who organize their lives around tide, wind, swell, and the treacherous topographies of the coast. More Briefs Revisiting the PEN–Charlie Hebdo Controversy One Year Later Brian Goodman 4.1.16 In the debate that ensued after last year’s PEN controversy, one thing became clear: there was confusion on both sides about what exactly counts as free expression or censorship in today’s world. More Fiction Chick Lit Meets the Avant-Garde Tess McNulty 4.1.16 Alexandra Kleeman’s novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine stands out among the many books published this past year—The Beautiful Bureaucrat, The Ghost Network, Revision, Dietland—that stake out a territory at the intersection of experimental fiction and chick lit. More Event “The Wire”: The Conference April 8, 2016 Join Public Books and Columbia’s Heyman Center for a two-day conference on The Wire, including a panel with actors Jamie Hector, Felicia Pearson, Wendell Pierce, and Sonja Sohn. More Briefs Once More Down the Rabbit Hole Jessica Campbell 4.1.16 Gregory Maguire’s new novel, After Alice, is a distinctly 21st-century homage to Lewis Carroll’s delightfully bizarre creation. More Interviews An Interview with Former Black Panther Lynn French Salamishah Tillet 4.1.16 Lynn French was a member of the Black Panther Party from 1968-1973, working in Chicago, Berkeley, and Oakland. She spoke with Salamishah Tillet, a professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, about the role of women in the Party and its legacy today. More Event The Trump Phenomenon April 21, 2016 Join NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge and Public Books for a discussion of the remarkable rise of Donald Trump, featuring Linda Gordon, Jeff Manza, Imani Perry, and Dorian Warren. More Nonfiction Beyond the Bubble Hartosh Singh Bal 4.15.16 In 2002, a year after Amartya Sen’s well-known essay on hunger, “Old Torments and New Blunders,” was first published, I travelled through parts of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to report on hunger-related deaths. I learnt for myself the truth of Sen’s observation that a free media serves as a vital check on the government, but that it is much better at highlighting famine than under-nourishment. The essays in The Country of First Boys, which include “Old Torments and New Blunders,” are by far the most accessible introduction to the work of Sen the public intellectual, if not Sen the academic. More Art & Media “The People v. O. J. Simpson” as Historical Fiction Nicholas Dames 4.1.16 Victorian novelists understood that realism’s gaze was sharpest when focused on the recent past. Now television seems to be waking up to the power of slight historicity. More Briefs The Rubble of Beirut Nathaniel Popkin 4.15.16 Lebanese author Elias Khoury’s latest novel to be translated into English, Broken Mirrors, is about identity and memory, destruction and displacement, exile and its internal ruptures. More Fiction Afrofuturism: Everything and Nothing Namwali Serpell 4.1.16 Recently, there’s been a swell of African-American artists making music (Janelle Monáe), fiction (N. K. Jemisin), and art (Laylah Ali) within the Afrofuturism rubric. Though Nnedi Okorafor has questioned that label, she is one of the most prolific black writers of speculative fiction out there. Her novel Lagoon uses science fiction to reflect the cultural clashes and contradictions of Lagos. More Nonfiction “Democracy and Education” at 100 Catharine R. Stimpson 4.15.16 John Dewey’s Democracy and Education is a firm rebuke to today’s hate-filled campaign, even 100 years after its publication. At once logical, deeply informed, committed to justice, and unafraid of showing a decent heart, Dewey gives his readers an enduring democratic inspiration. More Multigenre The Novel in the Age of Digital Diversion Anna E. Clark 4.15.16 Much like the Internet, novels are good at muddying distinctions between solitude and companionship, detachment and connection, reality and fiction. Three new novels and a memoir shed light on this tricky relationship between fiction and our digital media. More Briefs Orange Alert Travis Chi Wing Lau 4.15.16 Crucial to the operation of national security is its imaginative projections of threat, which then come to justify often extreme means of crisis prevention framed as necessary and ultimately salvific. More Nonfiction Waste, Value, and Environmental Racism in the Southwest Elizabeth Ferry 3.15.16 The making of “waste” is a social and political process just like the making of positive value. Two recent books, Wastelanding by Traci Brynne Voyles and Power Lines by Andrew Needham, explore how certain bodies and landscapes are rendered “pollutable.” More Briefs Pakistan’s Place in World Literature Ulka Anjaria 3.15.16 Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi’s Mirages of the Mind is intelligent, sarcastic, at times laugh-out-loud funny, but is unlikely to compel many American readers of international fiction. More Art & Media Binomial Nomenclature — S. Lochlann Jain More Fiction Gaitskill’s Fictions of Disappointment Namara Smith 3.15.16 The ways that others coincide with the private figures of our imagination is Mary Gaitskill’s abiding subject, one she has explored primarily through the lens of destructive sexual relationships. Her latest novel, The Mare, centers on a different type of relationship, but one with just as much potential for misunderstanding and thwarted desire. More Interviews Indian Writers under Siege: A Roundtable Saikat Majumdar 3.1.16 It is hard to remember a time when literature attracted so much front-page space, prime airtime, or mass attention in India as it did in 2015. But not only was this importance accumulated through a particularly perverse chain of events, it was also a particularly toxic kind of importance. Writers, scholars, and journalists were sued, attacked, and murdered throughout last year; in protest, dozens of reputed authors have returned prestigious national awards. To discuss this ongoing crisis are three key figures in the literary public sphere in India today: Githa Hariharan, Arunava Sinha, and Anjum Hasan. More Event New Public Intellectuals March 16, 2016 PB editor in chief Caitlin Zaloom moderates a panel on graduate students and cultural journalism, featuring Jon Baskin (The Point), Sarah Leonard (The Nation), and Nikil Saval (n+1). More Briefs Turkey’s Progressive Past James Ryan 3.15.16 Driven by a reconsideration of the country’s Kemalist past, the publication of memoirs from the interwar period is experiencing a boom in Turkey. More Event Book Launch: Thomas Frank March 14, 2016 Join us for the launch of Thomas Frank’s new book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? More Multigenre Origin of a Species Nilanjana Roy 3.15.16 Sake Dean Mahomet was the first Indian writer to attempt a full-fledged book in English and the intrepid founder of first a coffee house and then an unabashedly Orientalist spa in Brighton, England. Growing up at the height of East India Company rule, Mahomet wrote his Travels as a manuscript-length visiting card: he would use these memoirs to pry open the world of English patrons, setting himself up, with unabashed shrewdness, as an explainer of India. More Interviews Making “Room”: An Interview with Novelist and Screenwriter Emma Donoghue Sharon Marcus 2.25.16 Room is nominated for four Academy Awards on Sunday: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Picture. Sharon Marcus spoke with Emma Donoghue, who wrote both the novel and the screenplay, about the process of adaptation, learning to trust actors, and how screen heroines find time to shave their underarms even when fighting vampires. More Art & Media Virtual Roundtable on Women Directors Sarah Kessler, Gayle Wald, Noah Berlatsky, Ismail Muhammad, Irvin J. Hunt, Mary Zaborskis, and Debashree Mukherjee 2.25.16 It’s no secret that Hollywood has a diversity problem, especially when it comes to hiring directors. Still, plenty of talented women have overcome institutional barriers to make it into the director’s chair. Whether you’re into biopics, coming-of-age dramedies, or trans-generational comic ghost stories, here are six directors you should be paying attention to. More Interviews Close to the Bone: An Interview with Filmmaker Debra Granik Matt Wray 2.25.16 Debra Granik directed and co-wrote Winter’s Bone, which was nominated for four Oscars including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Her latest film, the documentary Stray Dog, follows the everyday life of a Vietnam veteran. Matt Wray spoke with Granik about her fascination with bones, her experiences as a woman behind the camera, and how Deliverance ruined the banjo’s reputation for an entire generation. More Art & Media A Brief History of Women Accepting Oscars Deb Verhoeven 2.25.16 Oscars speeches are a genre unto themselves. Do women perform them differently from men? According to data analysts, actresses typically thank more colleagues than actors do, and are more likely to remember those who supported them in building their career. And while 27 percent of male winners revel in their victory, hoisting the statuette skywards when they arrive on stage, only 13 percent of female winners partake in that gesture. Women, it seems, prefer to clutch politely at success. More Interviews Siri, Why Am I So Busy?: An Interview with Judy Wajcman Neta Alexander 2.1.16 Smart technologies—phones, tablets, wearables, and time-saving apps—are supposed to lighten our load. So why are we always complaining about overwork? Neta Alexander talks to LSE sociologist Judy Wajcman about the pace of digital life. More Briefs Taking a Nine-Year-Old to See “The Danish Girl” Cassandra Neyenesch 2.25.16 I’m always interested in exposing my children to pedagogical opportunities disguised as entertainment, in the same way I sneak almond meal into their waffles. More Event “Open Museums”: Thelma Golden, Paulo Herkenhoff, and Vasif Kortun February 24, 2016 More Briefs Cyborg Com- munitarianism Nicholas Nardini 2.1.16 Since life on Earth is so hard, the utopian imagination likes to turn to space. In Seeing Like a Rover, the sociologist Janet Vertesi argues that Mars has already begun to make us better. More Fiction Primal Scenes Mary Zaborskis 2.15.16 Nina Stibbe’s Man at the Helm, Asali Solomon’s Disgruntled, and Camille DeAngelis’s Bones & All are each recent novels that reveal how children break cultural scripts of sexual silence through their relation to adult sexuality. They reveal the illusion of adult power over children’s relation to sexuality, and invite us to recognize children as capable of sexual agency, an agency they may exercise not over their own sexuality but rather over that of the adults in their lives, whose sexuality they manage, witness, or inherit. More Event Art Datathon at MoMA February 19, 2016 At this two-day workshop, multidisciplinary teams will detect art world trends using data about art, including MoMA collection data that was released on GitHub last year. More Nonfiction Where do Morals Come From? Philip Gorski 2.15.16 The social sciences have an ethics problem: the failure of the social sciences to develop a satisfactory theory of ethical life. A theory that could explain why humans are constantly judging and evaluating, and why we care about other people and what they think of us. This is not to say that we have no theories. It’s just that they’re bad theories. The aim of Webb Keane’s Ethical Life is to find something better. More Nonfiction The Year of Black Memoir Imani Perry 2.1.16 Black life continues to be an important subject in this vexing, separate, and unequal nation. This is evidenced by the way Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World And Me has captivated readers. It stands in the Black literary tradition, as do others in the most recent crop of Black memoirs, including Margo Jefferson’s Negroland, Clifford Thompson’s Twin of Blackness, and Rosemary Freeney Harding and Rachel Harding’s Remants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism and Mothering. More Multigenre Show Me Where It Hurts: Part 2 Jared Gardner 2.1.16 We continue our survey of the growing field of graphic medicine, with reviews of four recent graphic novels about health, illness, recovery and loss. More Feature Public Books Tote Bag Giveaway The Editorial Staff 2.15.16 Introducing the Public Books tote bag! More Multigenre Jhumpa Lahiri’s Modernist Turn Urmila Seshagiri 2.15.16 Written in hard-won Italian and reverberating with the energy of early 20th-century literary experiment, Jhumpa Lahiri’s In altre parole describes the transformation of a writer exchanging the patient, polished realism of her first four books for a disquieting abstraction. It is a pleasure to witness sudden artistic metamorphosis, and Lahiri’s “transizione radicale” from English to Italian—“a split, together with a birth”—creates a fragmented, urgent aesthetic tenor that contrasts sharply with the author’s hallmark restraint. More Nonfiction Impunity Sandra Rodríguez Nieto 2.15.16 Between 2008 and 2010, a period in which more than 7,000 people were found murdered in Juárez and the city became the most violent in all of Mexico, evidence against alleged suspects was found in less than 200 cases. In the other 6,800 cases, only trace remains were left behind to piece together how or why each murder was committed. More Comment cthompson “Perry has a bit of an axe to grind, which leads her to oversimplification and occasional distortion. In the case of my own book, I will limit myself to three points. (1) I defy Perry or anyone else to find a passage in "Twin of Blackness" in which I "decr[y] Black Power." (2) I would not say that Ta-...” More Event Book Launch: The Shock of the Anthropocene February 29, 2016 In a new book from Verso, Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz dissect a spreading theoretical buzzword. More Art & Media How to Write About Videogames Matt Margini 2.15.16 If videogame criticism is to grow up, it will have to recognize that the nature of videogaming is not just narcissistic but companionate; not just a way to augment identity but a way to confront otherness; not just a replacement for social life but a kind of social life unto itself. More Briefs Life After Wartime Emma Shaw Crane 2.15.16 In After War, Zo? H. Wool asks what it is like for American soldiers to be blown up in Iraq and rehabilitated at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC. More Briefs Back to Work Nausicaa Renner 2.1.16 The combination of necessity, painful loneliness, and imagination has made dull jobs a frequent site of literary exploration. The Beautiful Bureaucrat and Jillian keep this tradition alive. More Multigenre Spinster Lit Katherine Cross 2.1.16 A woman who goes somewhere on her own remains quietly radical, whether her solitary journey takes her to the corner auto repair shop or to a distant continent. This is truer than ever when it comes to the ultimate journey, life itself. Solitary women are seen as being forever in want of husbands, and marriage is still a question that bedevils us. Two new books intervene in this old debate about women, marriage, and the specter of spinsterdom in intriguing, and very different ways. More Nonfiction A Laborless Eden? Gustav Peebles 2.1.16 With ethnographic data and theoretical acuity, James Ferguson’s recent book Give a Man a Fish has entered the debate about the consequences of the diminishing availability of work in a mechanizing age. More Art & Media How to Hide in Plain Sight: A Visual Essay — Finn Brunton More Interviews Paying Attention Like Primo Levi: An Interview with Ann Goldstein Franco Baldasso 1.15.16 With the publication of The Complete Works of Primo Levi, edited by Ann Goldstein, English-language readers finally have the opportunity to assess the complexity of this great writer, to appreciate his acclaimed autobiographical works of witnessing alongside lesser-known and previously unpublished stories and essays. I spoke with Goldstein, a New Yorker editor by day who is best-known as the American voice of Elena Ferrante, about the long road to the Complete Works, what Levi has to say to us today, the “attentive, even obsessive” craft of the translator, and more. More Multigenre Hard Labor: On the Complete Works of Primo Levi Robert S. C. Gordon 1.15.16 The appearance of The Complete Works of Primo Levi reinforces the author’s status as a clarion voice of ethically weighted, carefully calibrated, but also vitally human, witnessing in the face of the very worst of human violence. And yet the Complete Works also challenges us, pushes us to look beyond our settled, admiring view of Levi to the rich body of writing that moves, at oblique tangents and in less predictable directions, away from his core subject matter. More Fiction Murakami’s Farewell to Despair Lowry Pei 1.15.16 In a foreword to the recent publication of his two earliest novels, now made available in a good English translation for the first time, Haruki Murakami says that the novel that followed them, A Wild Sheep Chase, was “the true beginning of my career as a novelist.” Hear the Wind Sing (1979) and Pinball, 1973 (1980) were his practice novels, his apprenticeship, the groundwork that had to be laid before he could make a true beginning. More See More SIGN IN EMAIL PASSWORD Sign in CREATE AN ACCOUNT USERNAME EMAIL PASSWORD RE-ENTER PASSWORD Create Account

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