Books & the Arts

Ian McEwan’s 20th Century

In his new novel, McEwan ruefully looks back at a Britain that no longer exists.

Sarah Chihaya

Michelle de Kretser’s Unsettled Australia

Her novels examine how migration and globalization have changed the country’s identity and relation to the rest of the world.

Nawal Arjini

The Life and Afterlife of the Paris Commune

It was one of the most radical political experiments in European history. It was also one of Europe’s most tragically short-lived.

David A. Bell

From the Magazine

The Mixtapes of Hua Hsu

The Mixtapes of Hua Hsu

In his new memoir, Stay True, the New Yorker critic offers a coming-of-age story that doubles as a tale about friendship, music, and the politics of knowing oneself.

Summer Kim Lee
Has Labor Become More or Less Powerful Over the Last Two Decades?

Has Labor Become More or Less Powerful Over the Last Two Decades?

Neither Aaron Benanav’s Automation and the Future of Work nor Sarah Jaffe’s Work Won’t Love You Back was written with the pandemic in mind but together they serve as an indispensable guide to the broader dynamics of work in the contemporary moment.

Alyssa Battistoni
Olga Tokarczuk’s Panoramic Novel of Jewish Poland

Olga Tokarczuk’s Panoramic Novel of Jewish Poland

A work defined by its narrative elasticity, The Books of Jacob tells the story of a false messiah not through his eyes but through the vibrant and now lost world around him.

Ilan Stavans

Literary Criticism

Pankaj Mishra’s Novel of Intellectuals and Influencers

Pankaj Mishra’s Novel of Intellectuals and Influencers

Mishra’s first work of fiction in over a decade examines how ideas circulate in an age of social media and “ideas festivals.”

Jennifer Wilson
Vladimir Sorokin’s Anti-Realism

Vladimir Sorokin’s Anti-Realism

For the Russian novelist, the end of Soviet literary and political culture marked the loss of a powerful foil.

Gregory Afinogenov
Michelle Tea’s DIY Pregnancy

Michelle Tea’s DIY Pregnancy

In her new book, Tea explores the difficulties of joys of getting pregnant and having a child.

Erin Somers

B&A Newsletter

Best of Books & the Arts

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History & Politics

The Democrats at a Crossroads

The Democrats at a Crossroads

Michael Kazin’s new book examines the contradictory past and uncertain future of the Democratic Party.

Nicholas Lemann
Imani Perry’s Capacious History of the South

Imani Perry’s Capacious History of the South

While the South is often dismissed as a region catching up to the rest of the country, Perry’s new book demonstrates why it has always been the key to defining the promise and limits of American democracy.

Robert Greene II
The Messy Politics of the NBA

The Messy Politics of the NBA

Professional basketball finds itself at a crossroads—between its image as a do-gooder and a history of self-serving contradictions.

Jeremy Gordon

History

Thulani Davis’s Freedom Visions

Thulani Davis’s Freedom Visions

Her new history of the Civil War and Reconstruction examines the ways in which Black Americans formed networks of self-reliance in their pursuit of emancipation.
Elias Rodriques

On May 24, 1861, the fate of the Civil War was unclear. The Confederacy was formed in large part to defend slavery, but the Union was not yet committed to ending the chattel regime. That did not deter three enslaved people—Frank Baker, James Townsend, and Shepard Mallory—from doing their part… Continue Reading >

Television and Films

The Real Butt of Nathan Fielder's Joke

The Real Butt of Nathan Fielder's Joke

His awkward social comedies always leave you wondering: Whom should you be laughing at?

Vikram Murthi
Mike Leigh, 1996

Mike Leigh’s High Hopes

From Meantime to Another Year, the British director is often concerned with the aftermath of crushed ideals. Yet his films also reveal an underlying and stubborn faith that change is not entirely out of reach.

Ela Bittencourt
Martine Syms’s Portrait of Art School Alienation

Martine Syms’s Portrait of Art School Alienation

With her feature film The African Desperate, the visual artist delves into the social and intellectual pitfalls of the MFA experience.

Jordan Coley

Literature

I.B. Singer’s Language of Everyday Life

I.B. Singer’s Language of Everyday Life

By choosing to write in Yiddish rather than Hebrew, the young Singer declared his allegiance to the here and now rather than a biblical past or a Zionist future.
Adam Kirsch

By the 1950s, when Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Yiddish fiction was beginning to win acclaim in English translation, the future of the Yiddish language looked bleak. Its homeland in Eastern Europe had been destroyed in the Holocaust, and the largest remaining Jewish populations were now being raised to speak different languages:… Continue Reading >

Poems

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