BEIRUT – When she wrote her book We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices From Syria, Wendy Pearlman set herself a difficult target: She wanted “readers who might not otherwise think of picking up a book on Syria” to not only come away with a better understanding of the complex conflict but also care about it. (More…)

Can colonialism collapse into post-colonialism through ironic self-exposure and self-parody?  It is misleading to think we can ridicule colonialism away, even if William Seabrook’s career as a white voyeur among darker peoples certainly makes an excellent case for that position.  (More…)

Everyone thinks they know what bureaucracy is about; paperwork, pointless rules, red tape, computer says no. Despite this seeming familiarity it nonetheless stubbornly resists conceptualisation.  The critique of bureaucracy – an endeavour once undertaken by all shades of the political spectrum – has fallen by the wayside in recent decades. (More…)

Kelly Lytle Hernández’s City of Inmates is both enlightening and troubling.  Aside from famous institutions such as Sing-Sing, prison and jail systems appear as ahistorical institutional structures.  They seem as though they materialized in response to a need to house criminals. Yet all prisons and jails have histories. They are often responses to the criminalization of human categories rather than criminal violence. (More…)

Born in 1906, Hannah Arendt was a German-American theorist and seminal scholar of the rise of totalitarianism in twentieth-century Europe. It is little surprise then that, upon Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States last year, her 1951 essay The Origins of Totalitarianism suddenly sold out on Amazon alongside Orwell’s 1984. (More…)

Mimi Pond’s second graphic memoir, The Customer is Always Wrong (Drawn & Quarterly), tells of her early twenties when she was a struggling waitress and beginning cartoonist in the Oakland of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Like her first memoir, Over Easy, it centres on Pond’s workplace, the Imperial Café (a pseudonym for the real-life Royal Café), which provided her with many of the stories she tells. (More…)

At the beginning of his book Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher reads Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 film Children of Men as an allegory for our geopolitical predicament. In depicting a world much like our own, except for the fact that children are no longer being born there, it literalizes the experience of living through an era when the future no longer seems meaningfully different from the present. (More…)

The first thing worth noting about Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s recently released airing of the Trump Administration’s dirty laundry, is that there is very little in it that was not either generally known or strongly suspected. (More…)

Russians who reside in England are agreeably impressed by the fact that the English political world and English society of today show cordial appreciation of the actual progress of Russia and of her culture in general. They are, moreover, deeply touched by the warm recognition of the efforts of Russia to do her duty by her allies in the present war. (More…)

Nanni Balestrini’s 1971 novel Vogliamo tuttoWe Want Everything – has waited four and a half decades for an English-language translation from the Italian.  The novel, the most successful of Balestrini’s novels, recounts the radicalization of an anonymous young worker from southern Italy and the Fiat strike of the 1969, ‘hot autumn.’  (More…)

Elmore Leonard’s critically neglected novel Escape from Five Shadows speaks to social attitudes about incarceration that too many in the US public have forgotten.  Leonard published the novel in 1956 during his early career as a Westerns writer.  Some would argue, of course, that Leonard never stopped being a Westerns writer, only he changed locations. (More…)

The Irish are no more given to myth making than anyone else, but having been on the losing end of a lot of things over the course of the last six centuries, it’s hardly surprising that myth and legends have come to play an outsized role in the Irish political imaginary. (More…)