Culture & Literature
The New York Review of Books

The New York Review of Books March 21, 2019

For over 50 years, The New York Review of Books has been the place where the world's leading authors, scientists, educators, artists, and political leaders turn when they wish to engage in a spirited debate on literature, politics, art, and ideas with a small but influential audience that welcomes the challenge. Each issue addresses some of the most passionate political and cultural controversies of the day, and reviews the most engrossing new books and the ideas that illuminate them. Get The New York Review of Books digital magazine subscription today.

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20 Issues

in this issue

3 min.

JEROME GROOPMAN is the Recanati Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Experimental Medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and a staff writer at The New Yorker. He is the coauthor, with Pamela Hartzband, of Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What Is Right for You. MICHAEL HOFMANN is a poet and translator from the German. His latest translation is of Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin, and his new book of poems, One Lark, One Horse, will be published in the US in July. He teaches at the University of Florida. ISABEL V. HULL recently retired as the John Stambaugh Professor of History at Cornell. Her books include The Entourage of Kaiser Wilhelm II, 1888–1918 and, most recently, A Scrap of Paper: Breaking and Making International Law During…

20 min.
the unnameable

Milkman by Anna Burns. Graywolf, 352 pp., $16.00 (paper) Little Constructions by Anna Burns. London: HarperCollins UK, 296 pp., £8.99 (paper) No Bones by Anna Burns. Norton, 359 pp., $15.95 (paper) Clair Wills Early on in Milkman, the Man Booker Prize–winning novel by Anna Burns, the narrator (called only “middle sister”) recalls watching Rear Window for the first time. Most of the novel sticks to events that occurred when middle sister was eighteen, as she takes us back to sometime in the late 1970s, in some part of Republican-area Belfast. But her encounter with Rear Window comes from slightly earlier, when she was about twelve: A little dog gets killed, strangled, neck broken, which is not the message of the film but for me was the message of the film because its owner—bereft, in shock—wails out her window over all the…

2 min.
yale reads

LEO DAMROSCH, The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age “Damrosch [provides] crisp, colorful portraits of its members, illuminated by quotes from their lively, sometimes contentious interactions with each other…. This effervescent history shines a light on the extraordinary origins of a club which still exists to this day.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review “Late 18th century Britain comes brilliantly alive in a vibrant intellectual history.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review SUSAN CRAWFORD, Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution and Why America Might Miss It “A timely and urgent look at how America is sacrificing its digital future, productivity, connectivity, social mobility, entrepreneurial growth, education, and every other public good, thanks to rapacious telcos, scumbag lobbyists, and negligent, cash hungry politicians…. You should be reading this.”—Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing CHRISTOPHE GUI LLUY, Twilight of…

2 min.
wagon-lit nižbor

1. When we were stopped in Lviv, we needed airand pulled the window down a bit.A blade of bitter cold slid in; with ita voice, an old man’s voice: “The children here …”He paused to catch his breath a moment, “They…”But we were off. For hours then all we sawwere fields and fields of luminescent snow.And we heard nothing further till the day. 2.From Ústí up to Dresden, in the night,what seemed like crowds moved up and down the train,their shuffling syncopated with the dinthe wheels made on the rails. From left to rightthe carriages tilted into every slopealong the Elbe’s twisting corridor.Once someone tried the handle of our door,thought better of it and we went back to sleep. 3.Toward evening, the train came to a sudden stopoutside a village called Lesnoye.…

7 min.
close up and far away

John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night an exhibition at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, May 26, 2017–January 14, 2018; the National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston, April 29–July 29, 2018; and the American Folk Art Museum, New York City, October 30, 2018–February 24, 2019. Catalog of the exhibition by Diana Nawi with David Boxer, Olive Senior, and Nicole Smythe-Johnson. Pérez Art Museum Miami/DelMonico, 224 pp., $45.00 In recent years art gallery and even museum shows have come to sport titles in addition to the name of the artist on view. Many of them are forgettable—they are flourishes, really—but the subtitle of the John Dunkley exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum, “Neither Day nor Night,” precisely captures one of the most distinctive aspects of his paintings. Dunkley, who died in 1947 at…

18 min.
the king and i

Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics by Chris Christie. Hachette, 420 pp., $28.00 Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House by Cliff Sims. St. Martin’s, 360 pp., $29.99 Perhaps the defining moment of the Trump presidency occurred before it had even begun, two days after his election. Since May 2016, Chris Christie, then governor of New Jersey, had been head of the transition team planning for the takeover of power if Trump won in November. Given the candidate’s complete lack of experience in public office, this process was even more important than usual. Trump himself, however, did not think so. In his self-pitying memoir Let Me Finish, a title that soon becomes the reader’s prayer, Christie records that “as far back as Labor Day,”…