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  • 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. ...

  • Curator Nato Thompson shines a light on art and the culture wars in 'Culture as Weapon'

    Curator Nato Thompson shines a light on art and the culture wars in 'Culture as Weapon'

    We live in an era in which image memes are lobbed as political salvos. In which security is “theater” and defining who controls the “narrative” in a world of facts and alternative facts is the daily bread of the hot-take class. In which words are bombs, delivered in 140-character installments in...

  • In Dan Chaon's powerful new novel 'Ill Will,' a murder resonates through decades

    In Dan Chaon's powerful new novel 'Ill Will,' a murder resonates through decades

    Dan Chaon’s fifth (and darkest) novel is the opposite of your typical horror-thriller: the world it depicts does not cloak vast, supernatural forces coming to get you; no super-brainiac serial killers manipulate everyone into a brutally complicated, “Seven”-like dénouement; and, as the horrible...

  • Exploring what womanhood means after 50: 'The Middlepause'

    Exploring what womanhood means after 50: 'The Middlepause'

    At 49, Marina Benjamin had a hysterectomy, a procedure that shot her immediately into menopause. The physical change — cessation of menstrual periods, plummeting levels of estrogen — coincided with a nearly immediate feeling of emotional rupture. “I felt myself displaced,” Benjamin writes, reflecting...

  • In his novel 'White Tears,' Hari Kunzru delves into the blues, white appropriation and our violent past

    In his novel 'White Tears,' Hari Kunzru delves into the blues, white appropriation and our violent past

    What do we owe to a violent past? It’s a question that strikes at the heart of Hari Kunzru’s new novel, “White Tears,” despite its seemingly jocular and innocuous premise: Seth and Carter, two hipster audiophiles and Blues record collectors in Brooklyn, scrape together found audio of an unknown...

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