Culture & Literature
The New York Review of Books

The New York Review of Books September 26, 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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in this issue

3 min.

JOHN BANVILLE’s latest novel is Mrs. Osmond. CHRISTOPHER R. BROWNING is Frank Porter Graham Professor of History Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His most recent book is Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave-Labor Camp. MICHAEL CHABON lives and works in Berkeley and Los Angeles. SARAH CHURCHWELL is a Professor of American literature and humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Her book Behold America: The Entangled History of “America First” and “The American Dream” was published last year. J.M. COETZEE is Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide. He is the author of seventeen works of fiction, as well as numerous works of criticism and translation. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003. MARTIN FILLER’s most recent book is Makers of Modern Architecture,…

1 min.
the new york times bestseller

NOW IN PAPERBACK IJEOMA OLUO SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE “With her bold combination of directness and empathy, Oluo offers us a reset, a starting point, a clear way forward.”—dream hampton, filmmaker, writer, activist, and executive producer of Surviving R.Kelly“Oluo is the smartest, most courageous and electrifying young writer on race relations today—the voice of our times. Let her be your guidepost.”—Robin Diangelo, author of White Fragility“Oluo’s mandate is clear and powerful: change will not come unless we are brave enough to name and remove the many forces at work strangling freedom.”—Darnell L.Moore, author of No Ashes in the Fire sealpress.com…

21 min.
‘ulysses’ on trial

This essay will appear in somewhat different form in Fight of the Century, edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, to be published by Simon and Schuster in 2020 to coincide with the centennial anniversary of the American Civil Liberties Union. It was a setup: a stratagem worthy of wily Ulysses himself. The conspirators were Bennett Cerf, publisher and cofounder of Random House, and Morris Ernst, a cofounder of the ACLU and its chief legal counsel. The target was United States antiobscenity law. The bait was a single copy of an English-language novel, printed in Dijon by Frenchmen who could not understand a word of it, bound in bright blue boards, and sold mail-order by the celebrated Paris bookshop Shakespeare and Company. When Cerf and Ernst first began to conspire in 1931,…

1 min.
yale university press

“In Fabulous Monsters, Alberto Manguel argues that imaginary characters portray our own lives. Yes, we say, this is how we are, this is what we do to one another, this is true. That, perhaps, is where literature can help most.”—Salman Rushdie “Perceptive and fair-minded.”—Jonathan Rose, Wall Street Journal “Besides being approachably succinct, Avineri’s sympathetic account is distinguished by its appearance in the highly regarded Jewish Lives series.”—James Miller, New York Times Jewish Lives “If you combine the pleasures of a seductive novel, discovering a real American heroine, and learning the multiracial history of this country that wasn’t in our textbooks, you will have an idea of the great gift that Adele Logan Alexander has given us.”—Gloria Steinem “This clear-eyed, sobering book narrates a history of whistle-blowing, from the American Revolution to Snowden to…

1 min.

Race After Technology Ruha Benjamin “Brilliant, beautifully argued, engagingly written, and groundbreaking.” Imani Perry, Princeton University Paperback | 304 pages | 978-1-5095-2640-6 | $19.95 Why Cities Look the Way They Do Richard J. Williams “Using our eyes to understand the DNA of cities is the important contribution of Williams’s book. Read it and look around you with heightened vision!” Richard Burdett, LSE Paperback | 256 pages | 978-0-7456-9181-7 | $24.95 Troublemakers A Philosophy of Puer Robustus Dieter Thomä “A masterpiece … The scholarship is astonishing, the insights acute and important, and the pleasure of reading it constant.” Robert Pippin, University of Chicago Hardback | 480 pages | 978-1-5095-2558-4 | $45.00 Lineages of Modernity A History of Humanity from the Stone Age to Homo Americanus Emmanuel Todd “In Lineages of Modernity, this great thinker has found his greatest subject.” Michael Lind, author of Land of Promise Hardback | 448 pages…

15 min.
filling our eyes with sunshine

Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life an exhibition at Tate Modern, London, July 11, 2019–January 6, 2020. Catalog of the exhibition edited by Mark Godfrey. Tate, 239 pp., $24.99 (paper) Olafur Eliasson: Experience edited by Anna Engberg-Pedersen, with an essay by Michelle Kuo. Phaidon, 423 pp., $85.00 Studio Olafur Eliasson: The Kitchen by Olafur Eliasson, with a preface by Alice Waters. Phaidon, 364 pp., $49.95 No one who saw it has ever forgotten it: a fat yellow sun hanging inside the colossal Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern gallery, glowing through clouds of swirling mist. Olafur Eliasson’s The weather project, which opened in October 2003, was a magical microclimate created at a moment when weather was on everyone’s mind: a hellishly overheated summer—an early harbinger of the ominous climatic changes to come—had begun at last to release…