Afghanistan after the Exit

Zain Samir

Thereare hundreds of military bases scattered across Afghanistan, from concrete watchtowers, surrounded by razor wire, to massive airbases, fortified with concrete blast walls and watchtowers stretching for miles. Hundreds of thousands of Afghan and foreign soldiers, officers, technicians, cooks, cleaners and generals occupied these bases, along with armoured Humvees, helicopters,...

 

Indecent Government

Ferdinand Mount

Priti Patel has recently empowered special constables for the first time to carry tasers – sabres by another name. Shades of Peterloo. Nor will there be any shortage of storage space for the noisy. The government boasts that it has embarked on the largest prison-building programme for a century. These five Acts of Parliament were all in force by the end of April. Each of them is intended to increase government control: over Parliament, over elections, over the courts, over immigrants and over public demonstrations. How it all brings back the dear dead days of 1819 – the hulks, the sabres, the bastilles, the transportation of illegal males without a chance to say goodbye, let alone take their families with them. For Boris Johnson, the outrage that these Acts have generated in lefty circles is not a drawback but a brilliant success. The whole thing is a deliberate strategy to enthuse his core vote and heighten their sense of imperilment. 

 

Elif Batuman’s Education

Clair Wills

My experience of reading Either/Or has been that, whatever you may be thinking, Batuman is always three or four steps ahead of you, not only on gender politics, but on history (the war in Ukraine worms in, unbelievably), American imperialism, orientalist tourists, the very different ways in which Ivy League undergraduates and Turkish hostel workers get to be ‘special’ – you name it. And she may well be several steps ahead on this, too. Nonetheless.

 

Dirty Work

Katrina Forrester

Many jobs​ involve work we would prefer not to think about. When you recycle your rubbish, you know that someone somewhere will have to sort through it. When you eat meat, you know that someone did the killing. We overlook much of the work done to meet our needs, even when it’s closer to home: cleaning the streets, unblocking the sewers, digging graves. Someone always has to do the...

 

Skies over Magritte

Hal Foster

Biographies​ of artists often tie the art too directly to the life, as though dramatic experiences were iconographic keys that unlock the work once and for all. Early accounts of artists were modelled on the legends of heroes and saints, and even today they tend towards the epic in scope and hagiographic in tone. Magritte mostly avoids these traps; it is deeply researched, stylishly written...

Travels for the Mind

Travels for the Mind

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‘The Lonely Londoners’

Paul Mendez

SamSelvon’s The Lonely Londoners (1956) was one of the first British novels to be written in creolised English. It turned London, as the critic Susheila Nasta has said, into a ‘Black city of words’. The protagonist, Moses Aloetta, is an Afro-Trinidadian who arrived early in the Windrush era. After almost a decade in the city, he has become a reluctant welfare officer for...

Diary

The Plutocrat Tour

Iain Sinclair

The London architecture​ you are permitted to notice, Caroline Knowles reckons, is just money on display. In Serious Money: Walking Plutocratic London, she describes the overweening spike of Renzo Piano’s Shard as ‘a glass and concrete arrangement of the Qatar sovereign wealth fund’.* The loudest crimes are hidden in plain sight. Look around, you can’t miss them. The...

 

Prodigious Enigma

Catherine Hall

Inthe early 18th century, Bordeaux was a rapidly expanding and prosperous city. Its riches derived from the business of slavery, and the city changed to accommodate this business. The port was renovated to make room for the large ships travelling to Martinique, Guadeloupe and St Domingue; work began on what was to be the magnificent Place de la Bourse on the Garonne and on the new merchant...

LRB notecards

Be the envy of the neighbourhood with these sets of ten notecards, featuring LRB cover designs by Peter Campbell and Alexander Gorlizki.

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That Year Again

Collected pieces from the LRB on the year 1922, now available online and at the LRB bookshop. Featuring Helen Vendler on T.S. Eliot, Michael Wood on Nosferatu, Lewis Nkosi on the Harlem Renaissance and poems by Don Paterson and Anne Carson.

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