‘We Must Be Light!’

What emerges most strongly from James Merrill’s collected letters is their lightness of touch, lightness of spirit, and the quality of affection on display.

A Whole World: Letters from James Merrill

edited by Langdon Hammer and Stephen Yenser

How Can We Stop Gun Violence?

The US has the highest homicide rate of any high-income country, but more police may not be the most effective solution.

An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago

by Alex Kotlowitz

Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets

by Thomas Abt

Alone Together in Taipei

Intimacy in Tsai Ming-liang’s films is an elusive possession, but the desire for it is constant and always particular.


a film written and directed by Tsai Ming-liang

Goodbye, Dragon Inn

a film written and directed by Tsai Ming-liang, restored by the Cinematek–Royal Belgian Film Archive and Homegreen Films

Goodbye, Dragon Inn

by Nick Pinkerton

Tsai Ming-liang 2020

a traveling retrospective at Doc Films, Chicago, January 10–March 15, 2020; the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, D.C.; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York City (currently postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions)

Contagious Constitutions

Linda Colley shows in her new book that written constitutions developed both as a means of shoring up entrenched rulers and of turning successful rebellions into legitimate governments.

The Gun, the Ship, and the Pen: Warfare, Constitutions, and the Making of the Modern World

by Linda Colley

Another New World

Claudio Lomnitz’s Nuestra América is an account of his Ashkenazi Jewish family’s persistent, sometimes bewildered search across four continents for a language, culture, identity, and place they can call their own.

Nuestra América: My Family in the Vertigo of Translation

by Claudio Lomnitz

A Necessary Detachment

The work of Xiaolu Guo both plays with the globalization of literature and rebukes it.

A Lover’s Discourse

by Xiaolu Guo

What Price Is Right?

Both government regulators and private companies regularly assign a monetary value to human lives. A new book argues that the price is too low, and can entrench inequalities.

Ultimate Price: The Value We Place on Life

by Howard Steven Friedman

The Gourmand’s Way

Along with his celebration of American vernacular cooking, James Beard brought playfulness into the kitchen. But an ethical opportunism is part of his legacy and the culture he helped create.

The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James Beard

by John Birdsall

Far from the Realm of the Real

Lafcadio Hearn’s work was marked by a hatred of modern industrial life and a fascination with what he called “survivals”—traditions or folktales that he hoped would provide a living link to a more ancient form of narrative.

Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn

edited and with an introduction by Andrei Codrescu, with a foreword by Jack Zipes

Japanese Ghost Stories

by Lafcadio Hearn, edited by Paul Murray

Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things

by Lafcadio Hearn, with photographs by Hiroshi Watanabe and an introduction by Paul Murray

Sentenced by Algorithm

Computer programs used to predict recidivism and determine prison terms have a high error rate, a secret design, and a demonstrable racial bias.

When Machines Can Be Judge, Jury, and Executioner: Justice in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

by Katherine B. Forrest

The Roots of Rwanda’s Genocide

Why have so many Western historians, journalists, and human rights investigators failed to grasp why Hutu Rwandans suddenly started killing their Tutsi neighbors in April 1994?

Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad

by Michela Wrong

Hansel and Gretel in Belarus

Alindarka’s Children captures the depths of grief and frustration that have been building up for decades under the deceptively placid surface of Belarusian life.

Alindarka’s Children (Things Will Be Bad)

by Alhierd Bacharevič, translated from the Belarusian by Jim Dingley and Petra Reid

The King of Little England

Boris Johnson, unlike Trump, does not want never-ending disarray. The difficulty is that, having delivered him a string of political successes, Brexit will not go away.

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