Julian Barnes’s collection of art criticism Keeping an Eye Open is published November 2015. His new novel, The Noise of Time, will come out in 2016.


Even Worse Than We Thought

The synagogue in Jedwabne, Poland, before World War II

The Crime and the Silence: Confronting the Massacre of Jews in Wartime Jedwabne

by Anna Bikont, translated from the Polish by Alissa Valles
Anna Bikont’s book The Crime and the Silence: Confronting the Massacre of Jews in Wartime Jedwabne is meticulous in its procedures, absolute in its commitment to truth, and—perhaps therefore—powerfully dispiriting.

‘For Sorrow There Is No Remedy’

Joyce Carol Oates, Paris, 2008

A Widow's Story: A Memoir

by Joyce Carol Oates
A friend of mine, widowed in his sixties, told me, “This is a crappy age for it to happen.” Meaning, I think, that if the catastrophe had happened in his seventies, he could have settled in and waited for death; whereas if it had happened in his fifties, he might have been able to restart his life. But every age is a crappy age for it to happen, and there is no correct answer in that game of would-you-rather. How do you compare the grief of a young parent left with small children to that of an aged person amputated from his or her partner of fifty or sixty years? There is no hierarchy to grief, except in the matter of feeling.


John Updike, Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, 1984; photograph by Dominique Nabokov

My Father's Tears and Other Stories

by John Updike

Endpoint and Other Poems

by John Updike
Hearing of John Updike’s death in January of this year, I had two immediate, ordinary reactions. The first was a protest—“But I thought we had him for another ten years”; the second, a feeling of disappointment that Stockholm had never given him the nod. The latter was a wish for …

Such, Such Was Eric Blair

George Orwell, Walberswick Beach, Suffolk, 1934

Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays

by George Orwell, compiled and with an introduction by George Packer

All Art Is Propaganda: Critical Essays

by George Orwell, compiled by George Packer, with an introduction by Keith Gessen
You have to feel a little sorry for Mr. and Mrs. Vaughan Wilkes, or “Sambo” and “Flip” as they were known to their charges. During the first decades of the twentieth century, they ran St. Cyprian’s, a preparatory school in Eastbourne, on the south coast of England. It was no …

The Odd Couple

That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present

by Robert and Isabelle Tombs
In January, a government document was discovered in the British national archives which, according to the Guardian newspaper, “shocked historians.” This was the note, dated September 28, 1956, of a meeting in London between the British prime minister, the conservative and Francophile Anthony Eden, and his French equivalent, the socialist …