John Berger was one of the most influential thinkers and writers of postwar Europe. As a novelist, he won the Booker prize in 1972, donating half his prize money to the Black Panthers. As a TV presenter, he changed the way we looked at art with Ways of Seeing. As a storyteller and political activist, he defended the rights and dignity of workers, migrants, and the oppressed around the world. “Far from dragging politics into art,” he wrote in 1953, “art has dragged me into politics.” He remained a revolutionary up to his death in January 2017. Drawing on first-hand, unpublished interviews and archival sources only recently made available, Joshua Sperling digs beneath the moments of controversy to reveal a figure of remarkable complexity and resilience. The portrait that emerges is of a cultural innovator as celebrated as he was often misunderstood, and a writer increasingly driven as much by what he loved as by what he opposed. A Writer of Our Time brings the many faces of John Berger together, repatriating one of our great minds to the intellectual dramas of his and our time.
Joshua Sperling was born in New York City and grew up in California. His writing has appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Guernica, Film Quarterly, Jump Cut and Bullett Magazine, among other publications. He received a PhD in Comparative Literature, Film and Media from Yale University and currently teaches at Oberlin College.
Susie Linfield teaches at New York University. Her book The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence (University of Chicago Press, 2010) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, Guernica, Boston Review, and many other outlets. Her latest book, The Lions' Den: Zionism and and the Left from Hannah Arendt to Noam Chomsky, will be published by Yale University Press in March 2019.
Siddhartha Deb is the author of The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India, a narrative nonfiction book that was a finalist for the Orwell Prize in the UK, winner of the PEN Open award in the United States, and published without its first chapter in India because of a court order. A columnist for the “Bookends” section of The New York Times Book Review and a contributing editor the The New Republic, Deb’s journalism, essays, and reviews have appeared in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Nation, Dissent, n+1, The Times Literary Supplement, and The Baffler.