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Wonder Is Critical

From the January 2019 Print Edition

I finished teaching a university course in faith and ideas a little while ago by administering individual oral exams to forty first-year students. The exams took place in a hotel bar overlooking a volcanic lake. The pope’s summer palace shone in the distance, and the Mediterranean gleamed . . . . Continue Reading »

Big Mullah

From the December 2017 Print Edition

2084: The End of the World by boualem sansal translated by alison anderson europa editions, 240 pages, $17 Sleep soundly, good people, everything is sheer falsehood, and the rest is under control.” So begins Boualem Sansal’s new novel, 2084. The author, an Algerian secularist, has . . . . Continue Reading »

Briefly Noted

From the June/July 2017 Print Edition

Exporting Freedom: Religious Liberty and American Power by anna su harvard, 296 pages, $39.95 Anna Su’s study of U.S. efforts to promote religious freedom abroad from 1898 through the present ends as it begins. In the Philippines in the early twentieth century and again in Iraq in the . . . . Continue Reading »

Five Grueling Days of Joy

From the February 2016 Print Edition

When the woman came for our daughters, we were crowded around a small round metal table, eating damp French fries and day-old bagels. It was early evening, and we’d had a long day, and now another stranger was giving my wife a piece of paper. Was this yet another petition to sign? A cool Catholic . . . . Continue Reading »

Scout's Grown Up

From the January 2016 Print Edition

Go Set a Watchman by harper lee harpercollins, 288 pages, $27.99 It might be the greatest American literary controversy of recent years: In summer 2015, ­millions of excited readers discovered to their great dismay ugly racial elements in Harper Lee’s new/old novel, Go Set a Watchman. But this . . . . Continue Reading »

American Heraclitus

From the October 2015 Print Edition

The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915–1964 by zachary leader knopf, 832 pages, $40 Saul Bellow had a cat named Rufus. He learned from Ralph Ellison how to make drip coffee—though, according to his new biographer, the “elaborate procedure” that Ellison taught him “was hard to . . . . Continue Reading »

Write Away

From the Aug/Sept 2015 Print Edition

The most electrifying reading experience I’ve had this past year came 656 pages into Donna Tartt’s recent novel, The Goldfinch. A twenty-first-century young American’s adventure story, its action moves from wealthy Manhattan to Great Recession–era Las Vegas to decadent high-end European . . . . Continue Reading »