Francine Prose is a Distinguished Visiting Writer at Bard. Her most recent book is the novel Mister Monkey. (October 2017)


On the Wilder Shores of Brooklyn

Jennifer Egan, New York City, 2010

Manhattan Beach

by Jennifer Egan
A third of the way through Jennifer Egan’s new novel, Manhattan Beach, a young woman named Anna Kerrigan enlists Dexter Styles, a charismatic nightclub owner and racketeer, to drive her and her severely disabled sister, Lydia, to the seashore at the edge of Brooklyn. Lydia, who cannot walk or feed …

The Passion and Rage of Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy protesting the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada River, Gujarat, India, 1999

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

by Arundhati Roy
Most likely it would still make news today if a first novel by a young Indian woman living in India won the Man Booker Prize. Certainly it was big news in 1997, when Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things received the prestigious British award, and the resultant publicity helped …

Groping and Not Finding

Edward Hoagland, Bennington, Vermont, 2001

In the Country of the Blind

by Edward Hoagland
Sixty years have passed since the publication of Edward Hoagland’s first book, Cat Man, a novel that drew on his experience working with big cats in the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Since then, he has written more than twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, essay collections and …

The Triumph of Foxy Grandpa

Michael Chabon, Oakland, California, January 2016; photograph by Benjamin Tice Smith


by Michael Chabon
On his deathbed, a cantankerous old Jewish guy, his habitual reticence disarmed by a painkiller, tells his life story to his grandson, a writer named Michael Chabon. This scenario, the premise of Chabon’s new novel, may make Moonglow sound more syrupy, more gimmicky—and less entertaining—than it is. In fact it’s …


The Problem With ‘Problematic’

Jonathan Wolstenholme: A Literary Joust, 2006

It’s undeniable that the literary voices of marginalized communities have been underrepresented in the publishing world, but the lessons of history warn us about the dangers of censorship. Unless they are written about by members of a marginalized group, the harsh realities experienced by members of that group are dismissed as stereotypical, discouraging writers from every group from describing the world as it is, rather than the world we would like.

This Empty House

Jennifer Lawrence in Darren Aronofsky's Mother!, 2017

One may wind up concluding that by far the most terrifying thing about Mother! is that Darren Aronofsky seems to be Hollywood’s idea of an intellectual, our own brainy, home-grown auteur. Aronofsky isn’t much interested in these people’s complexity or humanity, but purely in his own big concepts. Of course, it’s possible to have characters and ideas; it’s a great gift of narrative art.

Words Still Matter

James Comey’s June 8 hearing proved that it is still possible for politicians to speak in complete sentences, to display a familiarity with history, to strive for linguistic and moral clarity: to make sense. But we are still waiting to hear from the senators and representatives with the fortitude to say lie as often as Trump’s supporters repeat not under investigation.

Selling Her Suffering

The new Hulu TV series The Handmaid’s Tale has been enthusiastically acclaimed as a feminist classic. Fortunately for the show’s producers, if not for the rest of us, this scenario seems uncannily timely, given how many recent events suggest that, if men like Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell have their way, we might end up living in a dystopia of our own. But gradually it occurred to me that I was watching an orgy of violence against women—promoted and marketed as high-minded, politically astute popular entertainment.


‘The Brink’

Offhandedly mocking our inadequate, improvisatory foreign policy in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, The Brink is funny, inventive, and fearless in what it has to say about geopolitics.