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!”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The apparent calm of the election belied the real concerns of the German public, concerns evident in the election results. Chancellor Angela Merkel barely campaigned. To the eyes of the public, the two major parties seemed nearly identical. This provided the far-right party with an opening to be the opposition. If people turned to a party that said the unspeakable, it was partly because very speakable things weren’t being said at all.
Puccini’s last opera finds new life in the hands of Robert Wilson in a new production in Madrid. Wilson uses almost no sets, relying on light for effect. This spare setting highlights the eerie beauty of Puccini’s fairy tale.
Simon Rattle’s last year as the head of the Berlin Philharmonic—he has been conducting the orchestra to great acclaim since 2002—is the last chance to see his energetic conducting style at work in the orchestra’s acoustically superb concert hall.