Human Mysteries: Notes on Wallander

In a Brookline, Massachusetts reading last February, Henning Mankell talked about the motivation behind his famed novels. He said that the first Wallander mystery was, in fact, an exploration of…

In the Familiar Ways: Ben Lerner’s Mean Free Path

“The reason the siren slides is because it doesn’t hit you,” said astronomer John Dobson. He was explaining the Doppler Effect, that phenomenon of physics every urban resident knows by…

Alain Mabanckou’s Broken Glass

The author of seven novels and six collections of poetry, Alain Mabanckou is already well known and celebrated across the Francophone world. His novels have been translated into more than…

Fitting the Form

On September 6, 2005, in an American city convulsing with chaos, an American citizen of Middle-Eastern descent was detained without charge by the U.S. Army, imprisoned indefinitely in a makeshift…

This is Not a Book Review

Through the tumultuous first decade of the new millennium there has flowed an ever more articulate stream of eulogies for the book review in print. Lamentations for the death of…

A Book by its Cover

It’s an unfortunate truth that—beyond making sure everything is spelt correctly—most modern publishers pay little attention to their hardcover bindings. Thousands of dollars may be devoted to design and artwork…

It Could Be Robinson Calling

Pulp Fiction re-ignited an old narrative trope that was then adopted by many clever popular films: a series of scenes, jumping from one character to another, and forward and backward…

With the Desert Surrounding

I. City of Extremes Is it possible for any one city to represent a nation as diverse and complex as America? Perhaps it is, in times of major crises, when…

Juneteenth: Ralph Ellison’s Three Days Before the Shooting

With the publication of his first and only complete novel in 1952, Ralph Ellison secured his place at the forefront of American literature and history. Invisible Man was an astounding achievement, not…

Slight Arms ’Round the Cypress Bough

In January, 2010, The Guardian asked former UK poet laureate Andrew Motion, “Why are we all still so hung up on the Romantics?” It may at first seem an odd question: a…

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