Lucy McKeon is on the editorial staff of the New York Review of Books.


Portraits of American Protest

Kevin Bubriski’s protest photographs, the most recent of which were taken only five years before the 2016 election, are a kind of time capsule. Like many rediscoveries, they offer a sense of continuity while also revealing the distance between now and then. Today, those of us who are not essential workers, doing what we can to take care of ourselves and others from home, are faced with the task of organizing remotely, joining together in arenas other than the street. In addition to everything else it touches, Covid-19 may forever change the way Americans participate in political life.

Pandemic Journal, March 23–29

A running series of brief dispatches by New York Review writers documenting the coronavirus outbreak with regular updates from around the world, including Michael Greenberg in Brooklyn, Raquel Salas Rivera in San Juan, Aida Alami in Paris, Rahmane Idrissa in Niamey, Verlyn Klinkenborg in East Chatham, Tolu Ogunlesi in Lagos, Merve Emre in Oxford, Yasmine El Rashidi in Cairo, Keija Parssinen in Granville, E. Tammy Kim in Brooklyn, Adam Foulds in Toronto, Tom Bachtell in Chicago, Ivan Sršen in Zagreb, Sue Halpern in Ripton, Michael S. Roth in Middletown, Ben Mauk in Penang, Martin Filler in Southampton, Eula Biss in Evanston, Richard Ford in East Boothbay, George Weld in Brooklyn, Nilanjana Roy in New Delhi, Ursula Lindsey in Amman, Zoë Schlanger in Brooklyn, Dominique Eddé in Beirut, Lucy McKeon in Brooklyn, Yiyun Li in Princeton, Caitlin L. Chandler in Berlin, Nick Laird in Kerhonkson, Alma Guillermoprieto in Bogotá, Lucy Jakub in Northampton, Rachael Bedard in Brooklyn, Hari Kunzru in Brooklyn, Minae Mizumura in Tokyo, Jenny Uglow in Keswick, Sylvia Poggioli in Rome, and more.

Marching for Our Lives

Young people dressed in bright puffer jackets and pom pom hats were accompanied by older chaperones, some wearing buttons and stickers, and holding signs that conveyed simple messages of urgency: Protect kids, not guns, Books not bullets, and Arms for hugging, not for killing (in the uneven crayon scrawl of a seven-year-old named Henry).

Living Room Portraits: ‘They Betray Who You Are’

Gwen Callec and Michael Schäfer, photographer, Prenzlauer Berg, 2014

Lucy McKeon: You see photographs of living rooms as portraits of people’s interiors—both literally and as visual representations of who they are. Dominique Nabokov: Yes, the living room is ultimately the vitrine, your vitrine, to the world. It’s where you want to show yourself to the world, consciously or unconsciously. And even if you use an interior decorator, it still will betray who you are. So, in a way, it’s like your clothes. It betrays who you are—not 100 percent, of course, but 75 percent.

The Photographs I’ve Never Seen

Rome, 1955

Today, behind the computerized shutter-click of a smartphone camera, I still sometimes sense in myself and in others the impulse to remember something before it’s over—to make some use of an experience even as it’s still happening. Some might explain this as the artist’s instinct to capture and transform. From another perspective, it’s the intellectual’s urge to analyze, to further experience the experience. Or is it a kind of compulsion—in its most cynical form, the capitalist’s need to consume the moment, to own it? One thinks of the tourist too busy photographing to see the actual living that is occurring all around him. He forces a fleeting present more quickly into the realm of that-has-been, and the local passersby laugh at his shortsightedness.

Swagger & Pomp: Jamaica’s Dancehall Style

Jamaica, as island politicians and historians of pop music have grown fond of saying, is a country whose cultural impact has been wildly disproportionate to its size. The imagery of Jamaican music, not just the sound, has captured the global imagination for decades. Beth Lesser’s photographs from the Eighties document the zenith of dancehall—often described as reggae’s raucous younger sibling.

Police Shooting: A Five-Year Quest for Justice

A still from the video surveillance footage taken outside Ramarley Graham's family home showing Officer Richard Haste trying to enter and another NYPD officer, gun drawn, February 2, 2012

A great deal has happened in the five years since Ramarley Graham was fatally shot by NYPD Officer Richard Haste. Attempts to indict Haste have been unsuccessful, but last month the NYPD has pursued its own investigation of Haste, where witnesses and police experts showed that multiple police protocols had been ignored in the events leading up to the shooting. But it is rare that an officer is prosecuted, let alone convicted, for killing a civilian while on duty.

The True Story of Rastafari

A mural of Leonard Howell in Tredegar Park, near where the first Rastafari community was formed in the 1930s, Spanish Town, Jamaica, January 4, 2014

Rastafari began not simply as a form of countercultural expression or fringe religious belief. It involved a fight for justice by disenfranchised Jamaicans, peasant laborers and the urban underemployed alike, in what was then a British colony. Rastafari have long been persecuted by the Jamaican government for their sacramental use of cannabis. But with marijuana recently decriminalized in Jamaica, descendants of the original Rasta movement are in danger of losing what remains of the land in central Jamaica where their community began.