The Shoah after Gaza

Pankaj Mishra

In​ 1977, a year before he killed himself, the Austrian writer Jean Améry came across press reports of systematic torture against Arab prisoners in Israeli prisons. Arrested in Belgium in 1943 while distributing anti-Nazi pamphlets, Améry himself had been brutally tortured by the Gestapo, and then deported to Auschwitz. He managed to survive, but could never look at his torments...


Coetzee’s Multistorey Consciousness

Nicholas Spice

Of thesesix stories, ‘The Pole’, dated 2022, is the most recent. It is also much the longest: at 146 pages, it occupies two-thirds of the book. Four of the remaining five stories (dated between 2004 and 2019) concern episodes in the life of Elizabeth Costello, the fictional Australian novelist who first surfaced in J.M. Coetzee’s work in 1997 and who has made intermittent...

Short Cuts

Pakistan’s Electoral Chicanery

Tariq Ali

Despite​ the efforts of Pakistan’s army, chiefs of police and civil servants to rig the results in favour of the Pakistan Muslim League and the Pakistan People’s Party, the vehicles of the country’s two political dynasties, the Sharifs and the Bhuttos (whose sordid history I’ve discussed in this paper on many occasions), Imran Khan triumphed in the general election of...


America’s Favourite Gun

Geoff Mann

More than​ 43,000 people were killed with guns in the United States in 2023. That’s around one death every twelve minutes. More than half of those deaths were suicides or accidents, almost 19,000 were homicides, and guns were among the leading causes of death among children and teenagers. According to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as an incident resulting in...


Death of the Book

Adam Smyth

Inroom 55 of the British Museum, tucked high beneath the dome of the Great Court, is a display case containing a broken clay tablet about the size of your outstretched palm – like a phone, when phones were big. The front of the tablet is divided into two columns, as if displaying two pages, and is covered with nearly a hundred lines of intricate indentations. This is cuneiform, the...


Rave On

Chal Ravens

On​ 21 July 1990 a rave ended in the biggest mass arrest in British history. To get to Love Decade, as the party was called, you first had to call a telephone hotline, which disclosed the location of the meeting point. From there, hundreds of cars made their way to an empty warehouse on the outskirts of Leeds. Having used bolt cutters to break in, the organisers installed a makeshift sound...

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On Buchi Emecheta

Joanna Biggs

In the summer of​ 1975, the Nigerian-born British novelist Buchi Emecheta went missing for a day. She tucked £10 into her purse and went to Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard, then went to look at the glossy black door of 10 Downing Street for the first time. For lunch, she ate what she fancied – salad, cheesecake and not one, not two, but three glasses of bitter...


Interwar Antagonisms

Susan Pedersen

Historians​ are often drawn to what I think of as the ‘strange bedfellows’ problem. When I explain to students Britain’s odd mid-century political alliances – the Labour prime minister Ramsay MacDonald teaming up with his Conservative predecessor Stanley Baldwin in 1931, the Labour leaders who expelled MacDonald for that act themselves joining Churchill’s...


China’s Mayor Economy

Nathan Sperber

During​ the Covid lockdowns of 2020, an influx of central bank injections into Western capital markets sent stock indices soaring. A few listed companies became social media favourites, leading to frenzied buying on the part of mostly young, mostly male amateur investors, stuck at home trading equities on mobile apps such as Robinhood. These hyped-up stocks – ranging from GameStop to...


Orbán’s Hungary

David Edgar

In​ 2014, the year of his second landslide election victory, Viktor Orbán announced his ambition to turn Hungary into an ‘illiberal state’. Citing Singapore, China, India, Turkey and Russia as examples of successful systems ‘that are not Western, not liberal, not liberal democracies’, Orbán was taking a swipe at foreign-owned banks, NGOs (‘political...


On Anne Enright

Clare Bucknell

Nell,​ the narrator of Anne Enright’s The Wren, The Wren, can’t imagine real words coming out of her boyfriend’s mouth. ‘When I think about him talking, all he says is: Bloke, bloke bloke bloke. Blokey bloking bloke, bloke-bloke bloking.’ The boyfriend in question, Felim, a tall, taciturn farmer’s son, built like ‘a plastic model of...

At the Pompidou

On Posy Simmonds

Susannah Clapp

Two things​ you will see in Paris but not in London: the word ‘culture’ on a banner at a demo, and a major exhibition by an English artist and writer who has for half a century made the Brits roll their eyes at themselves. The events are linked by the partly British-designed Pompidou Centre. In October, staff went on strike, seeking assurance about their jobs when the building...


At the Recycling Centre

Georgie Newson

One​ of the shiniest new initiatives at COP28 in Dubai last December was the world’s first ‘Voluntary Recycling Credit’ scheme, which will allow companies to ‘offset’ their waste products by purchasing credits from recyclers. The marketplace for these credits will be blockchain-based, so that transactions can be tracked. Building on the dubious success of...


On the Red Carpet

David Thomson

Foryears now, the television audience for the Oscars has been in decline. In 2023, the Academy’s big night had 18.7 million viewers; in 1998, the Titanic year, it was 57 million. This is getting to be like the last stages in musical chairs. Folklore says the Academy hires good-looking suits and gowns to fill the theatre seats when stars and quasars retreat to the bar or take...


Imitating Germany

Richard J. Evans

During​ the Second World War and the decades that followed, historians of modern Germany focused on one question: how did Nazism, with its negation of freedom and democracy, its aggressive commitment to war and conquest, its creation of a totalitarian state, and its visceral and genocidal antisemitism, take hold in Germany but not elsewhere in Europe? They sought an answer by delving deep...

Close Readings 2024

In our pioneering podcast subscription, contributors explore different areas of literature through a selection of key works. This year it’s Adam Shatz with Judith Butler, Pankaj Mishra and Brent Hayes Edwards on revolutionary thought of the 20th century, Thomas Jones and Emily Wilson on truth and lies in Greek and Roman literature and Colin Burrow and Clare Bucknell on satire. Listen to all three series for just £4.99 a month or £49.99 for the year.

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LRB Winter Lectures 2024

Buy tickets here for this year's Winter Lectures at St James Church, Clerkenwell: Pankaj Mishra on the Shoah after Gaza, Hazel V. Carby on decolonising history and Terry Eagleton on the origins of culture.

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