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Adolph L. Reed, Jr.’s The South: Jim Crow and Its Afterlives

“A simple racism/anti-racism framework,” Reed Jr. concludes, “isn’t adequate for making sense of the segregation era, and it certainly isn’t up to the task of interpreting what has succeeded it or challenging the forms of inequality and injustice that persist.”

Margaret Atwood’s Old Babes in the Wood: Stories

Margaret Atwood’s first fiction since 2019’s Booker Prize winning The Testaments and her first story collection since Stone Mattress (2014), these fifteen stories are a master class in how to write, a rollicking good time, and a deep exploration of human relationships—the damage we do to each other and the ways we come together.

Kevin Jared Hosein’s Hungry Ghosts

The title of Kevin Jared Hosein’s novel is derived from a mourning ritual in which rice balls are left out for the hungry dead while the living forgo all worldly pleasure. It’s a good fit for this beautiful yet unceasingly dismal portrait of mid-1940s Trinidad, in which abject poverty, colonialism, and recent war-time occupation have squeezed joy from the landscape and the people alike, leaving tragedy and loss as the most salient features of either.

Richard Bausch’s Playhouse

Richard Bausch’s thirteenth novel, Playhouse, takes place in Tennessee as the Globe Shakespeare Theater of Memphis undergoes a major building renovation while the theater folk get ready for their fall season. Bausch’s characters face more professional and personal problems than you can shake a playbill at, but the theater staff and the cast deal with adversity with varying degrees of success.

Franz Kafka: The Drawings

To me, thinking and not-thinking are often the same thing, and that’s clearest when I have an eraser in hand. The recent landmark publication of Franz Kafka’s illustrations in The Drawings, edited by Andrea Kilcher, a professor of literature and cultural studies in Zurich, has led me to think more about the ways in which these two states of being—if they are different—benefit from each other.

Hugh Eakin’s Picasso’s War: How Modern Art Came to America

The title of this book—Picasso's War: How Modern Art Came to America—is a misnomer, because it implies that the struggle to bring modern art to America was Picasso’s. But as this book demonstrates more poignantly than perhaps any other, the artist did virtually nothing himself to promote or in other ways encourage the advancement of his work in the United States. In fact, he was at best indifferent.


The Brooklyn Rail

MARCH 2023

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