News about Books and Literature, including commentary and archival articles published…

‘Plunder,’ a Gripping Reflection on What the Nazis Took and What It Would Mean to Take It Back

Menachem Kaiser’s “Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure” tells a twisting and reverberant and consistently enthralling story. It’s a weird story that gets weirder. Kaiser, the descendant of Polish Jews, is a young writer who grew up in Toronto. “Plunder” is about what happens after he takes up his Holocaust-survivor grandfather’s battle to reclaim an apartment building […]

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HISTORICAL

HISTORICAL THE MANNINGTREE WITCHES by A K Blakemore (Granta £12.99, 304 pp) THE MANNINGTREE WITCHES   by A K Blakemore (Granta £12.99, 304 pp) Poet A K Blakemore’s visceral debut glimmers with darkness and glints with fear as the relentless, (self) righteous Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General, sets about his work in Essex, in 1643. Blakemore brilliantly describes the uneasiness of this […]

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‘The Committed,’ by Viet Thanh Nguyen: An Excerpt

Chapter 1 I may no longer be a spy or a sleeper, but I am most definitely a spook. How can I not be, with two holes in my head from which leaks the black ink in which I am writing these words. What a peculiar condition, being dead yet penning these lines in my little room in Paradise. This […]

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PICTURE THIS

PICTURE THIS PUCCI   by Vanessa Friedman (Taschen £200) Emilio Pucci’s eponymous fashion house is famous for its bold and colourful prints, including styles such as these palazzo pyjamas (pictured) from the Fall/Winter 1969 collection Emilio Pucci’s eponymous fashion house is famous for its bold and colourful prints. His store on the island of Capri became a favourite of wealthy and […]

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New in Paperback: ‘Real Life’ and ‘A Game of Birds and Wolves’

REAL LIFE, by Brandon Taylor. (Riverhead, 336 pp., $16.) Taylor’s Booker Prize-shortlisted debut follows a Southern Black gay grad student “who is mining hope for some better or different life in the haunted halls of a white academic space,” Jeremy O. Harris wrote in his review. Emotionally, he said, “Taylor subjugates us with the deft hand of a dom.” SCRATCHED: […]

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To Light Up a Dark Time, Effervescent Poems of New York City

LOVE AND OTHER POEMSBy Alex Dimitrov Until the pandemic of 2020, I had never watched “A Hard Day’s Night.” I have now seen it probably 15 times. My wife and I are spending our quarantine months in a suburban house with our toddler twins, Jasper and Wesley, and the twins have developed an obsession with the Beatles. They’re especially fixated […]

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What Happens When a Publisher Becomes a Megapublisher?

When Penguin Random House said last year that it planned to buy Simon & Schuster for more than $2 billion, the entire publishing industry snapped to attention. The merger of two of the largest publishers in the United States — Penguin Random House is already the biggest by almost any metric — has the potential to touch every piece of […]

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A Writer Shakes Her Family Tree, and Cherishes Every Leaf

The Russian poet and journalist Maria Stepanova’s Aunt Galya died at 80, surrounded by “layered strata of possessions, objects and trinkets.” Years before, Galya had begun “the process of decluttering her apartment, and this gradually consumed her,” Stepanova writes, an endless cycle of “tidying and re-evaluating” during which “there was no longer any deciding whether a particular thing was important […]

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Memoir by Amos Oz’s Daughter Divides Family and Shocks Israel

JERUSALEM — Amos Oz was one of Israel’s most celebrated authors, a humanist who used his words to pursue peace in a region wracked by conflict. So when his second daughter, Galia Oz, a children’s author and documentary filmmaker, released her own memoir this week, the opening lines could hardly have been more startling. “In my childhood, my father beat, […]

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