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The New Yorker

The New Yorker June 6, 2016

Founded in 1925, The New Yorker publishes the best writers of its time and has received more National Magazine Awards than any other magazine, for its groundbreaking reporting, authoritative analysis, and creative inspiration. The New Yorker takes readers beyond the weekly print magazine with the web, mobile, tablet, social media, and signature events. The New Yorker is at once a classic and at the leading edge.

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in this issue

2 min.

Jonathan Safran Foer (“Maybe It Was the Distance,” p. 62) is the author of “Here I Am,” which is due out in September. Zadie Smith (“Two Men Arrive in a Vil- lage,” p. 44) has written five novels, in- cluding “Swing Time,” to be published in November. Hisham Matar (“The Book,” p. 48) is the author of the memoir “The Return: Fa- thers, Sons and the Land in Between,” coming out in July. James Surowiecki (The Financial Page, p. 42) writes about economics, business, and finance for the magazine. Ben Lerner (“The Polish Rider,” p. 50) is a 2015 MacArthur Fellow. His most re- cent book is “The Hatred of Poetry.” Malika Favre (Cover) is a French artist based in London. Kevin Young (“Uninhabited,” p. 65) was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences…

3 min.
the mail

ASSAD’S ATROCITIES I admired Ben Taub’s article on the campaign by the Commission for International Justice and Accountability to gather evidence of war crimes against high officials in the Syrian government (“The Assad Files,” April 18th). The fact that Bill Wiley and his colleagues should have to create their own group, and then raise funds for it, speaks to the absence of world powers willing to prosecute corrupt regimes for mass killings and other atrocities. This is part i c u l a rl y disturbing seventy years after the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials. However, Taub gives less credit to the International Criminal Court, an intergovernmental organization and tribunal in The Hague, than it is due. Since the creation of the I.C.C., in 2002, prosecutors have faced many of the hazards…

62 min.
goings on about town: this week

In 1966, the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama installed hundreds of mirrored spheres on the grounds of the Venice Biennale, accompanied by a pair of signs: “Your Narcissism for Sale” and “Narcissus Garden.” Recently, Kusama has been reconfiguring her piece sans signage, to emphasize its themes of infinity and reflection. It’s currently swarming the pavilion of Philip Johnson’s Glass House, in New Canaan, Connecticut, where it remains on view Thursdays through Mondays until the end of November. CLASSICAL MUSIC OPERA NY Phil Biennial: “The Importance of Being Earnest” Gerald Barry’s madly exuberant adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s greatest play comes to New York, suitably enough, after conquering London. Trimming the text to a zippy one hour and fifty minutes, Barry leaves the cucumber sandwiches, fabulous face-offs, and best-known aphorisms intact. Many of the London cast members…

2 min.
air lift

Serge Diaghilev, always on the prowl for new styles, new sensations, to showcase in his Ballets Russes productions, invited Natalia Goncharova, from Moscow, to design the troupe’s 1914 ballet “The Golden Cockerel,” set to the 1909 Rimsky-Korsakov opera. Goncharova and her mate Mikhail Larionov were leaders of Russia’s so-called neo-nationalist school, which eschewed the romantic realism of the nineteenth century in favor of “primitive” sources—mostly, in their case, icon painting and folk art. Goncharova’s people tended to have snouts and big, stubby feet. They carried cakes and made ugly faces at one another. Surrounding them were fat towers and red suns and flowers with faces like beach balls. This was perfect for the Rimsky-Korsakov opera, which, written just after Russia’s humiliating defeat in its war with Japan in 1904-05, depicted a…

2 min.
rock bottom

The bass may be owed more credit than it gets. Onstage and on record, it’s in complete service to the surrounding instruments: a hybrid of rhythm and melody, a drum with strings and frets. It engulfs from underneath in its lowest rumbles, and snaps with personality and wit at its highest tremors. It’s an instrument for casual alphas, quietly confident in their mastery and content to play second to last when the solos roll around. Snobs will tell you it’s everything. Thundercat calls it his crutch. Like his instrument, the bassist Thundercat, born Stephen Bruner, in Los Angeles in 1984, is most commonly discussed in terms of supporting roles: his years playing with the hardcore band Suicidal Tendencies, his musical kinship with the prog-rap producer Flying Lotus, his Grammy-winning contribution to…

3 min.
star power

While it’s always a treat to see amazing ensembles working together as they tear a play apart, the better to expose its meaning, it’s thrilling in a different way to watch performers who stand out because they have that indefinable something—a depth, a spark—that makes you feel more alive while watching a given production. In his perfect profile of the movie star Louise Brooks, published in this magazine in 1979, Kenneth Tynan talks a lot about eros—about how Brooks’s long neck and the way she moved her body contributed to her becoming, for Tynan at least, a kind of ideal film star, one who roamed the halls of his imagination long before he met her in the hall of her little post-Hollywood Rochester apartment. When I first saw the new star…