Big Mullah

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 »

He Went There

He was not a refugee, not an immigrant, not a displaced person. Or, rather: yes and no. When he and I became close friends, he once said to me: “Sometimes Americans ask, ‘When did you come to this country?’ I did not come to America; I went there.” And if he was asked . . . . Continue Reading »

What the Novelist Knows

The novelist and diarist Julien Green described in his diary a conversation he had with a French priest, a Fr. Couturier, about the novelist’s necessary complicity with evil: If he is a believer, the difficulty begins when he sits down at his table to write, for he is obliged to become each one of . . . . Continue Reading »

Write Away

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 »

50 Summer Reading Suggestions

The following is a list of favorite works of imaginative literature compiled by a literary snob. Unlike similar lists you won’t find anything as daunting as Finnegan’s Wake or as faddish as whatever Oprah is shilling to her book club. In fact, on first glance the inclusion of children’s books . . . . Continue Reading »

25 Favorite Short Stories

In his Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce defined a novel as “a short story padded.” This is an all too apt description. The inability to prune a story to its essential story is an unfortunate quality shared by many modern writers and the primary reason that bookshelves are filled with . . . . Continue Reading »