Ruth Margalit’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. She lives in Tel Aviv. (February 2020)

Follow Ruth Margalit on Twitter: @ruthmargalit.

IN THE REVIEW

Pandemic Journal

Drawing by Tom Bachtell
The New York Review is publishing dispatches from around the world documenting the coronavirus outbreak. Read the full series, and listen to writers reading their contributions, at nybooks.com/pandemic. —The Editors   OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, March 17—By Thursday afternoon, downtown San Francisco, already void of tourists, had turned ghostlier still.

When Reality Slips

‘Fading Memory,’ 2014; collage by Johanna Goodman

The Man Who Saw Everything

by Deborah Levy
If you’ve read Deborah Levy’s punchy memoir The Cost of Living (2018), you know about her string of pearls. At around the age of fifty, just as “life was supposed to be slowing down” for Levy, a South Africa–born writer based in England, her marriage falls apart. She sells her …

The Girl Behind Lolita

The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World

by Sarah Weinman

Rust & Stardust

by T. Greenwood
“Would you be interested in publishing a timebomb that I have just finished putting together?” Vladimir Nabokov asked James Laughlin, the publisher of New Directions, in February 1954. He had finally completed Lolita, after five years of fitful writing amid other pesky obligations. (“I am sick of teaching, I am …

A Mug’s Game

Lionel Shriver, Paris, March 2017

Property: Stories Between Two Novellas

by Lionel Shriver
In Lionel Shriver’s world, there are “Mugs” and there are “Mooches.” Mooches live off the generosity of Mugs, who work, pay taxes, build up insurance deductibles, and generally follow the rules. In our warped society, Shriver’s books argue time and again, Mugs are suckers and Mooches are winners. It’s a …

Flirting with Time

Lisa Halliday

Asymmetry

by Lisa Halliday
Early in Asymmetry, Lisa Halliday’s astounding first novel, Alice, a young assistant editor at a large publishing house, comes across a stray paper in the apartment of the much older writer she is sleeping with. On it are a few typed lines, including this: “An artist, I think, is nothing …

The Voice of Authority

Nicole Krauss, Tel Aviv, 2016

Forest Dark

by Nicole Krauss
In an essay published earlier this year in The New York Times, the novelist Nicole Krauss questioned the notion of the author as a figure of authority, “someone who invents or causes something.” It is a notion, she writes, that “returns me to a question that bothered me to no …

So When Are You Getting Married?

Menashe Lustig in Joshua Z. Weinstein’s film Menashe

Menashe

a film directed by Joshua Z. Weinstein

Srugim

a television series created by Laizy Shapiro and Havvah Deevon
How insular a community is may be measured by its share of members who wish to appear on camera. When a casting call went out to New York’s ultra-Orthodox community, which numbers in the hundreds of thousands, to appear in Menashe, a feature film set in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, only sixty people showed up.

NYR DAILY

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.