In late July, I flew to China not knowing what to expect, with one exception: I was sure, regrettably sure, that I wouldn't be able to speak with the person I needed to speak with, a man named Ai Weiwei. Who he is—and there's no shame in your not knowing; I was among the unenlightened until recently,
Kate Zambreno resists easy classification. Her fiction squirms under the critic’s microscope like an unruly subatomic particle, appearing first here and there and then in both places at the same time. She crams so much information into Green Girl, her second work of fiction, that I’m tempted to
Christopher Middleton is a poet for our moment: angry, denunciatory, fed up with the status quo. But he's not a young Occupier or Tea Party supporter. Middleton is an eighty-five-year-old Englishman living in Texas, and his most recent volume, A Company of Ghosts, is approximately his twenty-fourth
David Graeber has been much praised of late as a prophet of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and even if one doesn't want to go that far, his book is remarkably timely. I received my review copy the day of the October 5th NYPD pepper-spray incident in Zuccotti Park. By the time I finished reading
Hedy Lamarr is remembered most for the asset she valued least: her beauty. Richard Rhodes, himself best known for doorstop histories including 1986's The Making of the Atomic Bomb, is out to change that with Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr. The slim volume may not
Each book by Michael Ondaatje is, thrillingly, a departure, in some way unclassifiable. He is by no means a fantasist, but in the manner of a lyric poet (which he is also), he deploys juxtaposition and silence, as well as language and narrative, to create new worlds and new thoughts out of the real.
In 2008, I attended a lecture Gary Lutz delivered to a packed room at Columbia University. We were there to hear the consummate wordsmith and student of Gordon Lish say something memorable about the primacy of sentences. And he did. He spoke of words “behaving” as if they were destined to be together.
Argentine writer Juan Jose Saer has never caught on in English translation, although he certainly should have by now. Since 1994, five of his twelve novels have been translated, with his lauded The Witness coming to us via Margaret Jull Costa, the world-class translator of Jose Saramago and Javier
For much of the past century or so, Mexico has existed out of context. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ran the country for seven decades, enforced a powerful state of critical amnesia. Newspapers reported news with no background to the story at all. The lives of the powerful