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The South According to Coetzee

Readers waiting expectantly for the third novel in J. M. Coetzee’s late trilogy, following The Childhood of Jesus and The Schooldays of Jesus, were in for a ...

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Bleached Atmospheres of Dread

Myles McRae MLA was a monster of male entitlement. Any person who read the Australian newspapers in the year 1891 would have thought so. Six feet tall ...

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How Ken Liu Translates, and Why He Writes

Ken Liu is a celebrated author of American speculative fiction and a pathbreaking translator of Chinese science fiction into English. He has won the ...

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AI: Machines or Magic?

AI has always only partially been about the actual future of probable developments and base-rate outcomes; it has also been singularly productive of philosophical speculation, fantasy, and arguments about ourselves and the future ...

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The Rubble of Creation

This spring, I was enchanted by the story of mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck, awarded the Norwegian Abel Prize in 2019 for her work on bubbles, who at 76 still relishes the “technical obstacle,” “secrets,” and “mystery” of ...

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When Dogs Bite

“I could tell you that I was beating the dog because I was beaten, that I was six and stupid and knew no better,” Marwand recounts to his cousin Zia in eastern Afghanistan. “But here is the other thing I have to admit: the more I hurt him and the more he took it, as quiet as he did, without even a growl, the more I became attached to the dog.” Six years later, Marwand, now 12, returns from...

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Kafka Transformed

Franz Kafka’s Gregor Samsa has undergone numerous metamorphoses in English: into “a gigantic insect,” “a monstrous vermin,” “a monstrous cockroach,” “some sort of monstrous insect,” and “a monstrous bug” ...

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“Everyone Writes Stories”

In the old days, people used to talk about gaming the system. It meant manipulating the rules to produce a desired outcome. The term was popularized by software ...

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Newspapers and Northern Lights

In 1818 John Ross pointed the ship Isabella toward the Northwest Passage and opened up the Arctic exploration mania; the Shackleton-Rowett expedition of ...

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Philanthropists Will Not Save Us

What unites Mark Zuckerberg and the Koch Brothers? For many, their politics appear to set them apart. At least before the Cambridge Analytica revelations ...

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So the Earth Is Uninhabitable—Now What?

How do we talk about the urgency of climate change without making people ...

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Public Picks 2019

Each year around this time we send our readers into summer with a curated list of the titles that dazzled, challenged, and inspired us most over the past year. For this, the seventh-annual edition of Public Picks, we’ve asked our editors for the Public Thinker series, Literary Fiction, Higher Education, Children’s & Young Adult Literature, Urbanism, Global Black History, TV, Print/Screen, and...

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Loving Wilderness, Loving Borders

The Wednesday after the 2016 election, my son, Julien, arrived home from school crying. “Do we have to go home, too?” He had been talking with some of his ...

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“They Demolish Our Houses while We Build Theirs”

The West Bank’s central highlands harbor some of the best quality dolomitic ...

The post “They Demolish Our Houses while We Build Theirs” appeared first on Public Books.

Surrogacy Stories

Midway through Mike Birbiglia’s latest one-man show, The New One, the ceiling above the stage opens and various baby paraphernalia cascade onto the stage floor. An oversized stuffed bear, a breast ...

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On the Brink of Failure

“All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” Compared to the People’s Front of Judea’s comical political ignorance in Monty Python’s satire The Life of Brian, post-Enlightenment European countries were deeply familiar and preoccupied with Roman legacies...

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The Return of the Surrealist Women

In Leonora Carrington’s novel The Hearing Trumpet, a woman, Carmella, revels in sending letters to strangers ...

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