Merve Emre is Associate Professor of English Literature at ­Oxford and a Fellow of Worcester College. Her latest book is The Ferrante ­Letters: An Exercise in Collective Criticism. (March 2020)


Private Parts of Speech

Philip Guston: Legend, 1977

The Complete Gary Lutz

by Gary Lutz
Over the last year, little by little, I have grown suspicious of the erotics of art. It’s not just that I object to the opposition, famously asserted by Susan Sontag, between interpretation and sensuality. It’s that any overeager commitment to producing or consuming art as an erotic experience often results in some very inexpert writing about both aesthetics and sex—rhapsodic, humorless, self-aggrandizing prose that gets off on the most basic category errors.

The Imperfect Telescope

William Blake: frontispiece from The Song of Los, 1795; from Roberta J. M. Olson and Jay M. Pasachoff’s Cosmos: The Art and Science of the Universe. It is published by Reaktion and distributed by the University of Chicago Press.

The Organs of Sense

by Adam Ehrlich Sachs
The German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the main character of Adam Sachs’s debut novel, The Organs of Sense, had a minor obsession with telescopes. His hero was Johannes Kepler, the mathematician who had invented the refracting astronomical telescope in 1611. “Kepler, thanks to the force of his genius, has discovered …

‘Dismembered, Relocated, Rearranged’

Giorgio de Chirico: The Archaeologist, 1927; from Endless Enigma: Eight Centuries of Fantastic Art, the catalog of a recent exhibition at the David Zwirner Gallery. It is published by David Zwirner Books.


by Daša Drndić, translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth


by Daša Drndić, translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth
How can the contemporary novel speak the unspeakable? It’s an old question, a tired one perhaps, now that “the unspeakable” has come to encompass many forms of trauma that writers regularly speak about: self-harm, sexual abuse, genocide, fascism, climate change. Search for “speak the unspeakable” online, and the encyclopedic range of results, from the horrific (mass death) to the trivial (relationship advice) to the downright offensive (men’s rights forums, campus “free speech” controversies), makes it easy to start feeling cynical about how people deploy their memories for recognition.

Timeless Quickies

The Collected Stories of Diane Williams

with an introduction by Ben Marcus
More than any other writer today, Diane Williams understands the essentially tragicomic nature of the penis, human or otherwise. The penises in her very short stories never do what they are supposed to be doing, which is, in a word, fucking; or, rather, fucking well, fucking artistically. “His penis was …


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.