The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

Half of all Americans receive health insurance through their employers. If the unemployment rate continues at 20 per cent, it is estimated that as many as 43 million will lose their insurance. The administration is continuing to pursue a case before the Supreme Court that will, in the president’s words, ‘terminate healthcare’ under the government alternative, the Affordable Care Act (aka ‘Obamacare’). In Wisconsin, at least 72 people who attended an anti-lockdown rally – where speakers declared that they were unafraid to die to reopen the economy and demonstrators held signs calling the pandemic a hoax – have tested positive. The president tweets: ‘Coronavirus numbers are looking much better, going down almost everywhere. Big progress being made!’ This is not remotely true. He tweets: ‘Great credit being given for our Coronavirus response, except in the Fake News. They are a disgrace to America!’ He tweets ‘OBAMAGATE!’ over and over. He has sent out more than one hundred tweets and retweets in the last 24 hours.

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The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Nobody​ is sure how many books Georges Simenon wrote. All sources give different totals. He himself didn’t know, indeed he couldn’t remember all of them. He had many pseudonyms, dating back to the time when he was starting out as a hyper-prolific hack in his Belgian youth. To complicate things further, many of his books were published serially and are of a length somewhere...


Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

When​ Shelagh Delaney, all of 19, started writing A Taste of Honey, it had only two characters: Jo, the 15-year-old Salford school-leaver whose choices and chances structure the story, and her forty-year-old often skint but always cadging mother, Helen. Other characters were added later. Peter, the louche businessman with a ‘wallet full of reasons’ to lure Helen offstage and...


In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice

I was in the Whittington Hospital for just over a week: a night in A&E, sitting on a trolley waiting for a bed; two days in an isolation room on one ward; six days in an isolation room on another. The illness climbed quickly to its apex and then subsided in a straight line towards recovery, although two months after symptoms first appeared, I am still not quite myself. I guess I should say that the experience was traumatic, but it was more Traum than trauma. Events took on a certain gratifying theatricality, rather as they do in dreams. I watched myself as the protagonist of an enthralling drama, even as I experienced it as acutely uncomfortable, lonely and, at times, frightening. To be a patient is to be a solipsist: for a while, the world revolves around you. This is why being ill as a child was so special – I had my mother to myself. And it was to childhood that I reverted throughout my time with Covid. 

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In Beijing

Long Ling

One​ morning in mid-March, somebody knocked on my door. Since the apartment community where I live had been closed to the outside world for two months, this was unusual. Through the spyhole I saw a woman wearing a mask and a protective suit that looked a bit like a raincoat: standard gear in an epidemic. She was holding a folder and had a pen in her hand. I put on my mask and opened the...

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The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

Are you​ a Moby-Dickhead? If so, are you enough of a Moby-Dickhead to have visited the Phallological Museum in Iceland to inspect a sperm whale’s penis? This is one of the many intrepid expeditions undertaken by Richard King in the course of researching Ahab’s Rolling Sea. His book, like Moby-Dick itself, tells you everything you ever wanted to know about whales but were too...


Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

LadyAnne Glenconner has lived her life ‘in the shadow of the crown’. She is a friend of many members of the royal family and was, for thirty years, a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret. Her memoir, however, is written in the shadow of The Crown, ‘the popular Netflix series’ in which she was played by Nancy Carroll with Helena Bonham Carter as Margaret. In the...

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Talking Politics: History of Ideas

After each episode of the new Talking Politics podcast, brought to you in partnership with the London Review of Books, continue your exploration of the history of ideas in our unrivalled archive of essays and reviews, films and podcasts.

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LRB Books: Collections and Selections

Rediscover classic pieces, recurring themes, and the dash the London Review of Books has cut through the history of ideas, for the past 40 years, with LRB Collections and now LRB Selections: two new series of collectible books.

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Notice from Bury Place:

Like most other businesses, we have taken the decision to close both the London Review Bookshop and the Cake Shop until further notice. All events and late shopping evenings due to be held in the spring have been postponed indefinitely, but we’ve recorded a few of them as podcasts, and we’ve also launched LRB Screen at Home, a new, free series of online film events: join us on the bookshop’s YouTube channel every Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. A selection of books and book boxes curated by our booksellers is also now available for online purchase. Stay tuned for news of our plans for reopening, and many thanks for your support.

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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