“The first thing he said is, ‘Don't call me Mr. Baldwin. My name is Jimmy.’ I thought, this is ridiculous, at the very least he's James.”
Editors: Jesse McCarthy & Tara K. Menon
Past Editor: Nicholas Dames
“Everything Possible with Everything Given”
There are so many utopias. Could one be a small collective of nuns, performing their chores, far from the disasters of the 12th century?
What to Do About Freedom?
Once, radical artists and thinkers shook up conservatives. Now, it’s the right gleefully transgressing a “moralizing” left. What happened?
What Is a Book?
The “papers” of Toni Morrison can be accessed through a Princeton computer terminal. But where do these digital drafts end, and Beloved begin?
Public Thinker: Merve Emre Throws a Party for Different Readers
“One way to think about the act of annotating is that you are that meddlesome party gossip, telling the reader how to draw connections between the different parts of the text.”
Poe: America’s “Artificer”
Many view Edgar Allen Poe as a uniquely gloomy, mad writer. But what if Poe was normal, simply representative of a gloomy, mad era?
My Certainty Shall Be Their Confusion
Ann Quin is, above all, a self-aware writer, with an ironic understanding of the limits of symbolic expression, who was nevertheless prepared to test those limits.
The Netanya-who?s: Gossip and Other Kinds of History
Benzion Netanyahu—father of the former prime minister—is not the protagonist; rather, it is his scholarship and the practice of history itself.
How War—and Racism—Makes Monsters out of Men
In both World Wars, France used West African “colonial conscripts.” Deployed on the front lines, they were often the first to be killed.
A Messy Utopia Is All We Might Get
Climate change didn’t just wreck the planet; it closed off and reshaped the future. Even utopia—if we reach it—will be a mess.
The Perspective Is the Story
Jenny Erpenbeck’s fiction is an attempt to grasp the underlying precariousness of our sense of identity and belonging.
The Asian American Novel in Our Time of Hate
What does it mean to write—and read—an American novel in the wake of anti-Asian racism and hate crimes, events connected to a history of Asian exclusion?
Ethnographic Fictions: Talking with Megha Majumdar
Anthropology’s attention to the granular texture of someone’s life is a beautiful training for being a fiction writer.
Reading Resources: The Novel
A resource for reading about, teaching, and discussing the novel as an artistic and cultural form.
Beverly Cleary Forever (1916–2021)
Working as a children’s librarian in a “one-library town,” Cleary, age 23, found bored boys asking, “Where are the books about kids like us?”
Writers: Know Thyself in Excess
Why read MFA-trained writers writing about writers training in MFA programs?
Empathy beyond Therapy
Sigrid Nunez’s fiction inspires the question: What would it mean to make caring for others into an explicitly public priority?
Can Novels Make Amends?
Novelists from George Eliot to Mary Gordon ask readers to confront our lives as ethical dramas that run only once, and with great consequence.
Shirley Hazzard, Poet of Aftermath
Hazzard was given to lingering in the fraught silences that follow great tumult, taking the time to find something worth saying.
A Labyrinth for Our Time
What might the dynamic of mental life look like when its physiological counterpart is ill, bedridden, and housebound?