‘The Recovering’ by Leslie Jamison

Fiona Wright at The Sydney Review of Books: The Recovering is interested in resonance, or in what Jamison calls the ‘chorus’ – other voices, other narratives of both illness and recovery – and what they might offer to other people suffering or in pain. Resonance, she insists, isn’t ‘the same as conflation’ and doesn’t ‘mean pretending…

Richard Powers’s ‘The Overstory’

Daniel Green at The Quarterly Conversation: The Overstory displays some of the formal and stylistic ingenuity we have come to expect from a Richard Powers novel, from his acoustically adventurous prose to his multiple, intertwined narratives (even more multiple in this novel), so characterizing it as purely “agitprop” would be neither fair nor accurate, although the…

Self-Invasions and the Invaded Self

Rochelle Gurstein at The Baffler: WHAT DO WE LOSE WHEN WE LOSE OUR PRIVACY? This question has become increasingly difficult to answer, living as we do in a society that offers boundless opportunities for men and women to expose themselves (in all dimensions of that word) as never before, to commit what are essentially self-invasions of…

‘The House of Islam’ by Ed Husain

Christopher de Bellaigue at The Guardian: Of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims a very large number – perhaps a majority – observed the Ramadan fast last month. This doesn’t simply mean abstaining from food and water during the hours of daylight (as well as sex and cigarettes), but in many cases involves a deliberate reappraisal of…

A New Age of African Literature?

Lizzy Attree at the LA Review of Books: ARE WE ON the cusp of a new age of African literature? If so, the key to new novels from African writers seems to be the fresh use of historical fiction to articulate a new future. South African writer Marlene van Niekerk’s 2004 masterpiece Agaat (first translated into English…

Destined for the Dirty-Book Bin

B. J. Novak at the Paris Review: Candy begins with exhilarating precision; the opening chapters are my favorite pages of any book ever written, with its exquisitely tuned language guiding us through an ecstatic parody of outrageous ego-driven meaninglessness, pulled off with the combination of subtle precision and insane audacity that you might find in a…

Charles de Gaulle and Being French

Sudhir Hazareesingh at the TLS: There can be few more compelling subjects for a biography than Charles de Gaulle, the modern symbol of French grandeur. During his remarkable political career, he twice rescued his country from disaster: first through his bold leadership of the Resistance after France’s defeat by the Nazis in 1940, and later by…

Thomas Cole: The Prophet-Painter of America

Michael Prodger at The New Statesman: If these paintings were all about the inherent self-destructiveness of man, Cole was just as concerned with the fate of nature. He took a break from painting The Course of Empire to work on a large allegorical landscape called View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm – The Oxbow (1836). It is…

The Myth of Modern Disenchantment

Doug Sikkema at The New Atlantis: Whichever your take, the narrative abides: Modernity, thus understood, is an age of rationalism, science, and technology that eventually (and inevitably) overcame the mysterious wonders of magic, religion, and superstition. But this story, Josephson-Storm argues, is a myth. Why else, he suggests, would an esteemed scientist like Curie be…

One of Brazil’s Greatest Writers

Benjamin Moser at The New Yorker: Machado “had a half dozen gestures, habits, and pat phrases,” an early biographer, Lúcia Miguel Pereira, wrote, in 1936. He avoided politics. He was an ideal husband. He spent his free time at the bookshop. And, in founding the Academy of Letters, he brought an administrative structure to literature.…