Robert Gottlieb has been the Editor in Chief of ­Simon and Schuster and of Knopf, and the Editor of The New Yorker. His most recent book is a collection of essays, Near-Death Experiences…and Others. (July 2019)


Past Master

Ivo Andrić, 1971; photograph by Gilles Peress

Bosnian Chronicle

by Ivo Andrić, translated from the Serbo-Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth with Bogdan Rakić

The Bridge on the Drina

by Ivo Andrić, translated from the Serbo-Croatian by Lovett F. Edwards
Great historical novels—and there aren’t many—generally don’t read as if they’re historical. You feel, reading them, that you’re inside their time and place. Their characters aren’t dressed up in period costume, eating (carefully researched) period meals; their lives are real lives, like our own, only taking place in the past.

The Least Glamorous Mogul

William Fox with his wife, Eva, and one of his daughters, 1920s

The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox

by Vanda Krefft
20th Century Fox 21st Century Fox Fox Entertainment Group Fox News Channel Fox Broadcasting Company Fox Movietone Fox Music Foxtel… Yes, but who or what was Fox? We know a lot about such giants of the early film business as Louis B. Mayer, Samuel Goldwyn, Adolph Zukor, Cecil B. DeMille, …

An Irishman in America

Albert Bierstadt: The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak, 1863

Days Without End

by Sebastian Barry

The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty

by Sebastian Barry
How did it come about that an Irishman, Sebastian Barry, has written one of the most illuminating and moving recent novels about America—and nineteenth-century America at that? And what odds would you have given that it would be published in the United States within weeks of that other superb novel …

‘Make ’Em Cry, Make ’Em Laugh, Make ’Em Wait’

Wilkie Collins, circa 1873–1874; photograph by Napoleon Sarony

The King of Inventors: A Life of Wilkie Collins

by Catherine Peters

Wilkie Collins

by Peter Ackroyd
There are novels that grip you despite inconsistencies of plot, failures of tone or characterization, lack of depth—you may not even like them, but you have to go on reading: their sheer force and urgency are irresistible. The Three Musketeers and Uncle Tom’s Cabin are not Middlemarch or Proust, but …


An Actress Like No Other

Setsuko Hara as Noriko Somiya in Yasujirō Ozu's Late Spring, 1949

Noriko, in Ozu’s Tokyo Story, is the quintessential Setsuko Hara character: she’s the archetype of the post-war, modern young woman. Yet she also embodies the virtues of the traditional Japanese woman: loyalty, self-sacrifice, suffering in silence; she’s the perfect daughter, wife, mother. She was utterly real, yet she represented an ideal…the ideal.

Tame Jane

Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre, a film directed by Cary Fukunaga

The new film version of Jane Eyre isn’t all bad, but it’s all wrong. The story, despite a confusing flashback structure, is coherent. The dialogue is satisfying. The look is convincing. What’s lacking is Jane Eyre itself—Charlotte Brontë’s feverish inner world of anguish and fury.

Monstres Sacrés in Love

Igor Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen) and Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglalis)

All bio-pix are by definition ridiculous since their subjects have to be manifestly unique people—why else would the movie be made?—while what makes them unique is exactly what’s so impossible to convey. (Creativity is invisible, hence unfilmable.)