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  • The challenge and joy of poetry by Robin Coste Lewis and Adrian Matejka

    The challenge and joy of poetry by Robin Coste Lewis and Adrian Matejka

    Perhaps the great (however obvious) lesson of the last several years — the waves of police violence against black men, the bitter and hate-fueled rise of Trump and worldwide xenophobia — is that we have not transcended and learned from history nearly as well as we might have thought. Maybe we need...

  • Jeff VanderMeer on the biggest dystopia of spring, 'American War' by Omar El Akkad

    Jeff VanderMeer on the biggest dystopia of spring, 'American War' by Omar El Akkad

    What would it look like if America went to war with itself over oil, against a backdrop of devastation from the effects of climate change? The dystopian “American War,” a debut novel by journalist Omar El Akkad, makes such catastrophic “what if?” scenarios personal via an intimate portrait of a...

  • Winner of the Prix Goncourt, 'Compass' by Mathias Enard is brilliant and frustrating

    Winner of the Prix Goncourt, 'Compass' by Mathias Enard is brilliant and frustrating

    Mathias Enard’s first novel published in English, “Zone” (2010), takes the form of a 500-page-long sentence, the internal monologue of a French Croatian spy on a train to the Vatican to sell a trove of secrets. His second, “Street of Thieves” (2014), is told from the point of view of a young Moroccan...

  • A man becomes impossibly pedantic and gets a reality TV show in 'The One-Eyed Man' by Ron Currie Jr.

    A man becomes impossibly pedantic and gets a reality TV show in 'The One-Eyed Man' by Ron Currie Jr.

    The celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson had an idea last June: Instead of squabbling about politics based on our emotions, wouldn’t it be great if everybody just stuck to the facts? Confident that such a notion would have broad appeal, Tyson tweeted a hashtagged call to arms: “Earth needs...

  • Elif Batuman turns her gifts to fiction in 'The Idiot'

    Elif Batuman turns her gifts to fiction in 'The Idiot'

    With her smart and deliciously comic 2010 debut, the essay collection “The Possessed,” Elif Batuman wrote one of the 21st century’s great love letters to reading. Ostensibly orbiting an academic cottage industry devoted to the mighty Russians — Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, et al. — her true quarry...

  • Mohsin Hamid's 'Exit West' imagines a new way out for refugees

    Mohsin Hamid's 'Exit West' imagines a new way out for refugees

    In a world swarming with refugees, a world of travel bans, extreme vetting and giant walls, imagine mysterious black doors that transport defenseless refugees from war-torn cities to the safety of San Francisco and London. No overcrowded dinghies, no life vests, no Aylan Kurdis washing ashore. ...

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