Join the International Literature Book Club on Monday, December 6th, at 7 p.m. to discuss Homo Zapiens by Victor Pelevin, translated from Russian by Andrew Bromfield. Hosted by Yvonne Brooks.
The collapse of the Soviet Union has opened up a huge consumer market, but how do you sell things to a generation that grew up with just one type of cola? When Tatarsky, a frustrated poet, takes a job as an advertising copywriter, he finds he has a talent for putting distinctively Russian twists on Western-style ads. But his success leads him into a surreal world of spin doctors, gangsters, drug trips, and the spirit of Che Guevera, who, by way of a Ouija board, communicates theories of consumer theology.
Please join Rachel Syme, New Yorker magazine writer and author of the upcoming Knopf book Magpie, in a special conversation with Ric Burns and James Sanders about the newly expanded edition of NEW YORK: An Illustrated History, published by Knopf and the companion to their award-winning PBS series. The new edition features two new chapters and 128 new illustrations, along with contributions by Adam Gopnik, Suketu Mehta, and Ester Fuchs, to offer a sweeping portrait of New York in the first two decades of the 21st century, from the aftermath of 9/11 through the pandemic and beyond.
All of Mumbai’s possessions and memories come to die at the Deonar garbage mountains. Towering at the outskirts of the city, the mountains are covered in a faint smog from trash fires. Over time, as wealth brought Bollywood knock offs, fast food and plastics to Mumbaikars, a small, forgotten community of migrants and rag-pickers came to live at the mountains’ edge, making a living by re-using, recycling and re-selling.
Among them is Farzana Ali Shaikh, a tall, adventurous girl who soon becomes one of the best pickers in her community. Over time, her family starts to fret about Farzana’s obsessive relationship to the garbage. Like so many in her community, Farzana, made increasingly sick by the trash mountains, is caught up in the thrill of discovery—because among the broken glass, crushed cans, or even the occasional dead baby, there’s a lingering chance that she will find a treasure to lift her family’s fortunes.
A provocative and bracing send-up of modern masculinity, from the author of Class and The Story of My Purity.
Fresh, frank, and painfully cool, Francesco Pacifico’s The Women I Love dives nakedly into gender, sex, and power. Set in a vivid and alcoholic Italy, it acknowledges and subverts the narrow ways canonical male writers gaze at, and somehow fail to see, women—illuminating the possibility of equity between people in love, in bed, in work, and in life.
Join us for a conversation in celebration of Janine di Giovanni’s new book, The Vanishing.
War reporter Janine di Giovanni has spent an award-winning journalistic career in the Middle East. It is second nature for her to find her way out of a minefield, seek shelter during a bombing raid, and perform the means to get through just about any checkpoint: Don’t make eye contact. Have your papers ready. Be polite, but firm. Never get out of your car, especially if child soldiers wielding rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) are aiming them at your heart. It’s a way of living many could not imagine or live through without a constant feeling of fear. But for Di Giovanni, it was her faith that provided her a sense of belonging and a grasp on the spirit of resiliency.
Dark tourism—visiting sites of war, violence, and other traumas experienced by others—takes different forms in Hasanthika Sirisena’s stunning excavation of the unexpected places (and ways) in which personal identity and the riptides of history meet. The 1961 plane crash that left a nuclear warhead buried near her North Carolina hometown, juxtaposed with reflections on her father’s stroke. A visit to Jaffna in Sri Lanka—the country of her birth, yet where she is unmistakably a foreigner—to view sites from the recent civil war, already layered over with the narratives of the victors. A fraught memory of her time as a young art student in Chicago that is uneasily foundational to her bisexual, queer identity today. The ways that life-changing impairments following a severe eye injury have shaped her thinking about disability and self-worth.
Deftly blending reportage, cultural criticism, and memoir, Sirisena pieces together facets of her own sometimes-fractured self to find wider resonances with the human universals of love, sex, family, and art—and with language’s ability to both fail and save us. Dark Tourist becomes then about finding a home, if not in the world, at least within the limitless expanse of the page.