Category: Words

The Material Life of Criticism

Three new histories of literary study draw attention to the critic’s material life. Literary Criticism: A Concise Political History, by Joseph North, Paraliterary ...

Trans Like Us

When Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender in 2015, many commentators praised her bravery for claiming a truth that had been denied her at birth. At roughly the same moment, the story of Rachel Dolezal, the 37-year-old …

Feeling Like the Internet

What has the advent of the internet meant for the novel? Apart, that is, from its having opened a gaping time-sucking sinkhole at the center of culture? The sweet drip-feed of sentiment and savagery ...

A Tapestry of Black Lives

James Baldwin’s legacy looms powerfully in this current moment. This may be all the more true for black writers. Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, one of the contributors to Jesmyn Ward’s timely new anthology ...

The Great LOLCat Massacre

Recently, for work, I read through 10 years’ worth of the New York Times best-seller list and noticed a strange phenomenon. Since December 17 ...

Your Own Pirate Radio

In my favorite bar in the world, all the men look like Lino Ventura and all the women look like a photograph by Brassaï. They only serve two drinks: pastis and cold vodka (Żołądkowa). The only food ...

The Devil Wears Pravda

In the mid-1930s, amid the Second World War and the Great Depression, competing forms of internationalism—the Communist International, Black Internationalism, the League of Nations—defined the ...

Who Segregated America?

Recently long-listed for the National Book Award for nonfiction, Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law is an accessible and powerful account of how metropolitan America became racially segregated ...

Motherhood in the End Times

Having a child forces you to confront all of those abstract threats you might have previously labored to ignore: physical entropy, the planetary future, human ...

The Fortunes of Senso-ji, Tokyo

Asakusa is just west of the Sumida River in the shitamachi, the “old town” of Tokyo. Much of this part of Tokyo, including most of the venerated Buddhist temple ...

The YA Resistance

With tedious regularity, cultural commentators turn up their noses at Young Adult fiction, grumbling that it allows readers who should know better to indulge in “escapism, instant gratification, and ...