LA Non-Confidential

Lucie Elven

When Eve Babitz​ was growing up in Los Angeles in the 1950s, ‘the only thing in the county art museum that was the least bit alluring to me and my sister was the Egyptian mummy, half unwrapped so you could see its poor ancient teeth. As children, we both decided this would be the way to go, petrified and put in a museum, immortal.’ Babitz thought she’d die at thirty;...

From the blog

Whose England?

Natasha Chahal

14 June 2021

As they kick off, I’m thinking about England. I’m thinking I don’t care as much as I used to. The game is slow. I’m trying to tune out a man at the table behind, loudly asking no one but excited at the sound of his own voice: ‘Why is Sterling playing? Bring on Jack Grealish.’

 

Gender Renegades

Sharon Marcus

JamesAllen was working for a London shipwright when he was killed by a falling piece of timber in 1829. He had been married to his wife, Abigail, for more than twenty years. The medical students who performed the autopsy declared Allen’s body anatomically female, but the coroner continued to call the deceased ‘he’ because ‘I considered it impossible for him to be a...

 

In Nagorno-Karabakh

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

When one nation asserts that its history has primacy over its neighbour’s, disputes arise over who has the rightful claim to a territory. Each mountaintop, river or valley can mean different things to different peoples. Or, as one Azerbaijani I know says: in Karabakh each rock has two names. In both Armenia and Azerbaijan, writers constructed an ethnonational narrative that aspired to negate the existence of the other country, or at least to assign it the role of newcomer in the region. This approach would eventually provide the justification for the violence in the streets. Armenian writers pointed to Armenian churches and monasteries in Karabakh as proof of an uninterrupted presence in the area. They dismissed the term ‘Azerbaijan’ as a modern political label and exaggerated Turkish influences: although the Azerbaijani language is Turkic, the people are predominantly Shia with heavy Persian influences. But Azerbaijani Shiism is much milder than the Iranian variant, tempered by 170 years of Russian and then Soviet secular rule.

 

Famine in Tigray

Alex de Waal

In Tigray​ in northern Ethiopia a famine is unfolding in the dark. Reporters and aid workers have been unable to access large parts of the region since war broke out in November. Satellite imagery and aerial photographs have shown that only a fraction of the land was ploughed in preparation for the summer rains. Children are dying of hunger. When villagers are spotted by Eritrean or...

Travels for the Mind

Travels for the Mind

Read the world's best writing - from some of the world's best writers. Subscribe to the LRB today for just £1 an issue.

 

Life as a Wife

Tessa Hadley

Another​ report from the front line of the sex war. New York Review Books has reprinted a clever little book, published in 1972, about the first Mrs George Meredith, which is nothing so crude as a blow struck in battle: it’s a poignant needling, deflating the male creative genius – not ungenerously – and providing yet another plausible case of a wife abused by posterity....

 

Nero-as-arsonist

James Romm

Thegreat fire that started in Rome on 19 July 64 CE not only destroyed much of the city but also helped to bring down the Julio-Claudian dynasty that had ruled the empire for nearly a century. Nero, who occupied the position of princeps (‘first citizen’) by virtue of being the great-great-grandson of Augustus, had destroyed all the other male members of the line by the time of...

 

Four Moptop Yobbos

Ian Penman

The rubble had been cleared away, but strange grasses and wild herbs had sprung up where the war-demolished houses had been.

Muriel Spark, A Far Cry from Kensington

Onthe opening page of Craig Brown’s One Two Three Four, Brian Epstein and his personal assistant, Alistair Taylor, behold the Beatles for the very first time. It is November 1961, in a ‘dank and damp and smelly’...

Subject/Object: The Birds

A new, biannual series of short festivals from the London Review Bookshop, loosely tracing a theme through the archive of the London Review of Books with a week of books and arts events. The first theme is birds, and on this occasion all eight events will be online.

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LRB Selections 2. Penelope Fitzgerald

Featuring pieces for the LRB on subjects including Stevie Smith, Alain-Fournier, Adrian Mole, girls’ schools, Wild Swans, wartime London and Anne Enright, half of which haven’t been anthologised before, by the Booker Prize-winning author of Offshore and The Blue Flower.

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Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

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