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“Cat Person,” Black Maternal Mortality, and Elf on the Shelf

Past Present Episode 112

In this week’s episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia debate the viral New Yorker short story “Cat Person”, the disproportionately high maternal death rate among black women, and the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon. 

FeatureMulti MediaPast PresentPodcast

Bronx School Killing, Romance Novels, and Game Shows

Past Present Episode 102

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil debate a fatal stabbing at a Bronx high school, the history of the romance novel and its critics, and the evolution of the game show genre.


Category Anxiety: Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize

It’s been a weird year (the weirdest I can remember at least), and Thursday morning’s announcement that Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature made it weirder still. But, overall, it is weird in a welcome way.

Pre-announcement speculation centered on the possibility that the prize might be awarded to an American. Given that Toni …

Arts & DesignReviewsSex & GenderThe Left

Not Fade Away: Joan Didion’s Hollywood Life

A review of the new biography

Who is Joan Didion anyway? In The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion, Tracy Daugherty decided to find the writer in her most public work. “Does the life reveal the art, the art the life?” he asks in the prologue (xxiii). If you find fault with The Last Love Song it will be in this decision — not in Daugherty’s entertaining style, which often reads like the New Journalism that Didion helped to establish; nor in his …

Arts & DesignEssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Shakespeare and Trump: What’s in a Name?

Thoughts on headless bodies in tombless graves

One seeks in vain for references to Shakespeare in Carly Fiorina’s Tough Choices: A Memoir (2007) and Rising to the Challenge: My Leadership Journey (2015). There are no lessons from Shakespeare in Hillary Clinton’s It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us (1996). Nor are there any in her more recent books …


Between Freud and Einstein

On the homology at the heart of modernist art

Arts & DesignEssays

An Interview with Amos Oz on Literature, Judaism and Zionism

A conversation with the Israeli author Amos Oz, conducted on November 12th in the guesthouse of the Hamburg Senate, upon receiving the first Siegfried-Lenz Prize.

NF: Bruchim Habaim leHamburg! — Welcome to Hamburg!

AO: Thank you very much. Being the first recipient of the Siegfried Lenz literary award is a great honor but also a very deep sadness, because we have lost Siegfried Lenz just a few weeks ago, and I was so much hoping that he will be the one who will hand me the award. …