• March 26, 2014

    Jonathan Schell

    Jonathan Schell

    The American writer Jonathan Schell died last night, of cancer, in his home in Brooklyn. From his early work as a young Vietnam War correspondent for the New Yorker, through his meticulous yet sweeping case for nuclear disarmament in The Fate of the Earth, to his magisterial rethinking of state and popular power in The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People, Schell embodied the best of a distinctively American, progressive civic-republican tradition—and of a WASP cultural sensibility about which he was ambivalent and humorously self-deprecating. Schell set a powerful example of dissent while showing defenders of conventional wisdom that they, too, have good intentions that they ought to live up to. Our future is dimmed by the loss of what would have been Schell’s continuing insight, magnanimity, and love.  — Jim Sleeper

    Here is Schell in Bookforum on Nicholson Baker’s Human Smoke.


  • Teju Cole

    Teju Cole

    The New Yorker excerpts Teju Cole’s new/old novel, Every Day is For the Thief. Cole originally published the book in 2007 with Nigeria’s Cassava Republic Press; yesterday, Random House released it in revised form. Yasmine El Rashidi reviews the book in our new issue.

    The U.K.’s new prohibition on sending books to prisoners has met with outrage. The classics scholar Mary Beard called it “crazy”; the novelist Mark Haddon vowed to get “every writer in the UK publicly opposed to this by tea time.” A petition has already garnered nearly 15,000 signatures.

    Zoë Heller and Mohsin Hamid consider the dictum to “write what you know.” As Heller reminds us, “the injunction is only to know; the business of how you come by your knowledge is left quite open.”

    Gary Shteyngart describes his next novel, to be published by Random House in 2017, as “a family drama set in the high-stakes world of global finance.” On Twitter, he implored “people in finance and law enforcement” to help him write it.

    At The Believer, Gideon Lewis-Kraus interviews the filmmaker Mike Mills about his short experimental documentary, A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought Alone, which features the children of Silicon Valley tech workers talking about their ideas of the future. Most of the kids that Mills filmed, he reports, have a “well-informed and negative outlook.”