The New Yorker

How Andrew Solomon’s Peter Lanza Piece Makes Us More Empathetic

In Leslie Jamison’s essay “The Empathy Exams,” the title piece in her upcoming book, she writes, “Empathy isn’t just listening, it’s asking the questions whose answers need to be listened to. Empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination. Empathy requires knowing you know nothing.” What the Sandy Hook shooting — or any of the 44 school shootings that have occurred since December 2012 — has taught us is that tragedy can, over time, feel unfathomable while also curdling into feeling absolutely commonplace. The rash of school shootings that have become not even front-page news in America have made us tired and frustrated. It leaves us looking for something like empathy, since it’s easy to feel just horror and sadness, looking for the balm of quick answers and a “bad guy” caught and put in jail. … Read More

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‘The Partisan Review’ and 8 Other Great Online Magazine Archives

Even though it shut down in 2003, The Partisan Review was the sort of publication whose articles and fiction deserve to be appreciated by future generations. Now, thanks to some heroic archivists, the magazine’s entire output from 1934 to its demise has been digitized, offering readers a chance to explore one of the most important intellectual institutions of the last century. Like The Partisan Review, some other great publications that have steered our cultural conversations about the arts, politics, and fiction, have also worked hard to get their back issues posted on the internet. Here are a few excellent examples to bookmark. … Read More

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Jennifer Weiner’s Curious Definition of Literary Sisterhood

This week the New Yorker profiles Jennifer Weiner, dissecting the way she’s been cast in the internet’s ongoing debate about the place of women in the world of writing. Or, sorry: “serious writing,” meaning not those ugly pink-and-blue books that only women read. The profile, by Rebecca Mead, is pretty good. I particularly liked how it highlighted, in a nice, subtle, not-laced-with-ad-hominem-attacks way, the flaw in the heart of Weiner’s crusade: she can’t seem to make her point without trashing women literary novelists. … Read More

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The 12 Best ‘New Yorker’-Related Books

Founded in 1925 by Harold Ross and his wife Jane Grant, The New Yorker is published 47 times annually, with five of those issues covering two-week spans. While the magazine has its weaknesses (a

55 Short Stories from the New Yorker

It’s sort of scary to think that the magazine has been putting out great… Read More

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‘The New Yorker’s’ Bert and Ernie DOMA Cover Is Infantilizing and Offensive

What the hell, guys? In a week when we experienced an amazing achievement in the fight for marriage equality, The New Yorker has summed up the Supreme Court’s historic DOMA decision in next week’s cover image, conveniently posted online this morning because the click-baiting, buzz-obsessed culture we live in propagates infantilism. That’s essentially what Jack Hunter, the artist behind the cover image, and the venerable magazine’s editors have done: belittling the decades-long — hell, millennia-long — fight for equal rights by needlessly sexualizing a pair of puppets. … Read More

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Flavorwire Interview: ‘We Steal Secrets’ Director Alex Gibney on Julian Assange and the Wikileaks Backlash to His Film

In his riveting new documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, director Alex Gibney (the prolific Oscar winner behind Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer) tells two stories: the thriller-like ascendency of the organization and the troubling questions it asks about government transparency, and the crumbling of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, which plays like something out of Greek tragedy — the transformation of an admirable idealist to a paranoid propagandist, injecting his own legal woes into the lofty aims of his organization, and conflating them. Gibney was unable to procure an interview with Assange; “Julian wanted money,” Gibney explains in the film, though Assange was willing to exchange his interview for information on the other people Gibney was talking to. (UPDATE: The organization has disputed this claim. Mr. Gibney notes that they’re working from an “incomplete and inaccurate transcript based on non-final version.”) The filmmaker refused, and We Steal Secrets has been under fire from Wikileaks supporters since it was unveiled at Sundance last January. I asked Gibney about that backlash, the importance of the story, and related troubling matters of transparency in the Obama administration. … Read More

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10 Great Books for the Nonreaders on Your Holiday Gift List

If you’re a reader, you understand. For the holidays, all you want is a stack of books, so sometimes it can be hard to figure out what to get for your less literary-minded loved ones. Well, you can still give them books. But you have to choose carefully. Just as we did last year, this holiday season we’ve put together a helpful guide of new books that even your most prose-averse friends will love — whether they admit it to you or not. Click through to check out the gift guide, and let us know what you’re giving the nonreaders on your list in the comments. … Read More

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The Best Burns from BAM’s Gary Shteyngart Roast

Gary Shteyngart is one of the most successful and critically acclaimed literary novelists of his generation — but he isn’t just that. The New Yorker “20 Under 40″ list author is also New York literary society’s most beloved clown, the dark comic undertones of his novels extending into his public persona. Over the years, he’s exaggerated the excesses of his own personality to create for himself a bumbling, lecherous nebbish character who can’t even speak (much less read) English.

It was that character who hobbled onto the stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last night, conspicuously overdressed in a black suit with a bow tie, for a Friars Club-style roast to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Shteyngart’s debut novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook. Joined by host John Wesley Harding, his roasters included fellow authors Sloane Crosley, Kurt Andersen, and Edmund White, along with New Yorker Fiction Editor Deborah Treisman. Although, at under an hour, the program felt a bit too brief and — as Harding suggested at several moments — the ribbing was often too gentle, Shteyngart’s colleagues still managed to get in a few entertaining jokes. We’ve collected the best disses below, with apologies for excluding White’s, which were excellent but which we just couldn’t manage to transcribe because he was reading them very quickly from prepared notes. … Read More

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The Pop Cultural Landscape (According to Books)

Earlier this week, we spotted a great list of the most mentioned songs in literature over at PWxyz. They’d gotten their info from Small Demons, a fantastic website devoted to connecting books to each other and to the world in interesting ways. Inspired, we did some exploring of our own, and came up with a snapshot of the pop cultural landscape — at least if our books can be believed. Though all of these lists are of necessity always changing as new works get added to the database (and the world), we still think they give a pretty good picture — click through to see the artists, musicians, songs, films and even clothing brands that get most mentioned in literature printed in English, and let us know if you think the book world reflects our culture accurately in the comments. … Read More

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