Back to the Well: Songwriters on Their Craft and Inspirations

Except for Brian Wilson, who clearly would rather be any place but in front of a tape recorder, Zollo’s subjects seem not only to enjoy their interviews, but also to appreciate their interlocutor’s insight. He distills the most salient passages of his conversations and renders compelling portraits. Speaking personally, I often cringe when I come

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Friday Finds: ‘Arabic Readers Are Devouring’ Books Translated from Chinese?

At the Cairo International Book Fair earlier this year books about the Belt and Road Initiative also proved popular.” It’s difficult to believe that in Egypt, where book sales have been suppressed, that any sector of publishing is on the rise, but Xinhua   reported that the House of Wisdom publishing company is seing growing

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LARB Radio Hour: Laura Poitras on “Risk,” Her New Film About Julian Assange; Plus, Russell Banks’s America

Both films place Poitras at the epicenter of two of the most significant politcal phenomena of our digital age, and in both instances, she has crafted brilliant films. LARB Radio Hour: Laura Poitras on “Risk,” Her New Film About Julian Assange; Plus, Russell Banks’s America By LARB AV –  May 4, 2017 Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras

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The State of Post-Truth

The collection’s titular essay scrutinizes the saga of a seabird sanctuary driven into the ground by an eccentric Howard Hughes type. “It does, but I think he tries not to change the natural landscape, but to design the course around it,” says Dale. I wanted a library. In “Going Diamond,” Gerard describes her parents’ brief

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White Fear’s Avatar: Chris Hayes on Trump and American Law and Order

Taxes were largely a question of duties and customs and border enforcement. So much of the country’s foundational experience is just being in this savage and brutal wilderness and imposing order upon it. Because those existed, people tried to evade them, and the way they were enforced was basically through policing power: searching ships, ensuring

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IPAF Judge Sophia Vasalou on the 2017 Panel’s Criteria, Advice to Future Judges, and ‘Obligatory Sex Scenes’

Another was where a novel had already enchanted me so much that trying out its translation in my head was a means of expressing and inhabiting that enchantment. Having been chosen to serve on the panel, you simply do the best and most conscientious job you can. Faced with a novel of high caliber, you

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Culture Machines: On Ed Finn’s “What Algorithms Want”

It comes as Finn describes participation in crowdfunding platforms — a humble but substantial part of this algorithmic public sphere — as a way for individuals to raise money and awareness in an era when SuperPACs and activist billionaires enjoy outsized political influence. He writes and teaches courses on science and technology in US literature

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Middle East, Middle Class: Pain and Privilege in Halma Alyan’s “Salt Houses”

In Atef’s first chapter, set in 1977, he complains of the influx of Westerners to the Arab neighborhood that he and Alia and the children live in, but also insists on sending their children to international schools. Each chapter shifts perspective, sticking close to the character, and with every new chapter, years pass in the

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51.4 Percent Insane, 48.6 Percent Melancholy: The Turkish Referendum

A society continuously denied any ability to speak about itself seems destined to produce any number of unintended consequences. In contrast, one could look to the practice of installing Stolpersteine, brass plaques in the sidewalk marking the last residence of Holocaust victims, as an example of nations attempting to own their past. It will always

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Mahmoud Hosny: Is ‘A Small Death’ Really the Best Book of the Year?

It chooses to make the central narrator Ibn ‘Arabi. Ibn ‘Arabi, the novel’s protagonist, characterized by extreme poverty, is a key connective figure in the history of Sufism. But here, perhaps we need to revisit the words of political novelist Tim Pears: “A novel can’t change the world.” Mahmoud Hosny is an Egyptian author and

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Revival and Resurrection in Alison MacLeod’s “All the Beloved Ghosts”

On her way to an onstage interview, Angelica wanders through her property and encounters the housekeeper of her childhood years, as clear as day, followed by her late mother, Vanessa, who appears as a woman still in her 40s. The buoyant narrator, a newbie who isn’t afraid to consult Islam for Dummies, confesses he “struggled

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Opiate of the People: A Review of Ian Johnson’s “The Souls of China”

Regardless, the fact of the matter is that more than 300 million Chinese (or nearly a fourth of the nation’s population) are now religious. And its leaders were now eager to renew their claims to guide China’s spiritual life. They are from rural northern Shanxi and for nine generations they have been revered yinyang masters

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