Madeleine Schwartz is a regular contributor to The New York Review. She won the 2019 European Press Prize for opinion writing. (February 2020)

Follow Madeleine Schwartz on Twitter: @mmschwartz.


The Devourer

Marie NDiaye, New York City, 2009

The Cheffe: A Cook’s Novel

by Marie NDiaye, translated from the French by Jordan Stump
Marie NDiaye is so intelligent, so composed, so good, that any description of her work feels like an understatement. “Stop reading this review, just read her books!” you want to say. For several weeks now I’ve been carrying around NDiaye’s novels, telling friends to pick up her work. “She’s the smartest writer working today!” I say. Or else: “She’s going to win the Nobel Prize!”

Inside the Deportation Courts

Migrants being returned to Mexico by United States Border Patrol officers under the Migration Protection Protocols, or Remain in Mexico program, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, July 2019
President Trump’s transformation of immigration law is being executed at sixty-odd courts around the country dedicated to processing migrants. The administration has taken legislation passed quietly over the years and used it to drive through large-scale changes to immigrant rights. Unlike the judges in federal or state courts, immigration judges don’t have judicial independence. They are part of the executive branch rather than the judicial branch. They can be fired or reassigned by the attorney general, and they face sanctions if they don’t process cases rapidly. The Trump administration has hired nearly two hundred new judges and plans to add at least a hundred more. Nearly half of sitting immigration judges were appointed by Trump, and about half of these new judges had previously been attorneys for ICE, according to the Associated Press.

How Should a Millennial Be?

Sally Rooney, Dublin, January 2016; photograph by Eamonn Doyle

Conversations with Friends

by Sally Rooney

Normal People

by Sally Rooney
“The great millennial novelist”—the mantle has been thrust, by Boomers and Gen Xers alike, upon the Irish writer Sally Rooney, whose two carefully observed and gentle comedies of manners both appeared before her twenty-eighth birthday.

The Disillusionist

Elsa Morante, Rome, 1961

Arturo’s Island

by Elsa Morante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
We live in a golden age of reissues. Every publishing season seems to bring fresh editions from a vital but ignored past: say, Clarice Lispector, who had one book come out last year, or Lucia Berlin, who had two. For readers, republication offers something rare: the possibility of reclaiming history simply by opening a book. The proper response to this is surely celebration. But I can’t help feeling a bit depressed that so many of the cool new writers are dead.


Pandemic Journal, March 17–22

Dispatches on the coronavirus outbreak from Madeleine Schwartz in Brooklyn, Anne Enright in Dublin, Joshua Hunt in Busan, Anna Badkhen in Lalibela, Lauren Groff in Gainesville, Christopher Robbins in New York, Elisa Gabbert in Denver, Ian Jack in London, Vanessa Barbara in São Paolo, Rachel Pearson in San Antonio, A.E. Stallings in Athens, Simon Callow in London, Mark Gevisser in Cape Town, Sarah Manguso in Los Angeles, Ruth Margalit in Tel Aviv, Miguel-Anxo Murado in Madrid, Tim Parks in Milan, Eduardo Halfon in Paris, Anastasia Edel in Oakland, and more.

Merkel’s Problem on Her Right

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Chancellor Angela Merkel flanking Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the formation of Germany’s new coalition government, Berlin, March 14, 2018

Migration, always a specter in German politics, has been front and center in the news. Horst Seehofer, the new minister for the interior and leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), announced an immigration plan that proposed Germany’s turning away refugees at the country’s southern border with Austria. Which migrants is Seehofer afraid of? The number of people trying to get to Europe has dropped drastically. For her part, Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed back against Seehofer’s plan.

Germany: With Centrists Like These…

Supporters of Germany's far-right AfD party holding a banner that reads,

Pundits often marvel at how quickly Germany’s far-right AfD has acquired power. But if the party has gained prominence, in some polls even surpassing the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), it is because the anti-immigrant sentiment it represents has, in fact, been present as an undercurrent in German politics for years. Even if the AfD, constantly beset by internal conflicts and scandal, implodes, he says, “there will be another right-wing populist party” to take its place.

Trump to Undocumented Teens: Give Birth or Get Out

People with Planned Parenthood protesting for

At the core of the anti-abortion movement is the tenet that a fetus is a person whose rights need to be protected. The Trump administration is taking this argument to an absurd and cruel extreme. A fetus in the United States requires the full protection and support of American law. As for its undocumented, adolescent mother—well, if she wants her rights, she should leave the country.