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Nights of Plague

- By Margot Demopoulos

A Review of Nights of Plague by Orhan Pamuk. Translated from Turkish by Ekin Oklap. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2022.

Orhan Pamuk is the first Turkish Nobel laureate for literature. His work focuses on Turkish culture and history, using labyrinthine plots, an overload of detail, operatic flights of imagination, and tongue-in-cheek word play. In a 2020 essay, Pamuk revealed he started thinking about writing a plague novel thirty years earlier. He regards Daniel Defoe’s Journal of a Plague Year as “the single most illuminating work of literature...

The Next Best Thing

Avast Ye Hearties!

- By Ruth Ozeki

On Carole DeSanti’s work-in-progress: Plunder, The Exploits & Adventures of the Notorious Pyrates Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

It is my great pleasure to introduce our Elizabeth Drew Professor of English Language and Literature, Carole DeSanti, who will be talking to us today about pirates.

Now, I have known Carole for a very long time. Currently she is my colleague here at Smith. Before that, she was my editor at Viking Penguin, where she acquired my first novel when I was just starting out, and then over the next several decades patiently taught me how to be an author and build a literary career.

But before that, Carole was my classmate here at Smith. Now this was back in the late 20th century, when the mountains were still cooling. We were taking a...


Barbarians at the Gate

- By Nil Santiáñez

A Review of Ernst Jünger, On the Marble Cliffs. Translated by Tess Lewis, Introduction by Jessi Jezewska Stevens, Afterword by Maurice Blanchot. New York Review Books, 2023.

An elegant, refined, somewhat aloof writer whose oeuvre spans eight decades, Ernst Jünger is a towering figure of modern German letters. In addition to his correspondence with some of the most prominent luminaries of his time (e.g., Carl Schmitt, Martin Heidegger, Gottfried Benn), he authored numerous thought-provoking, idiosyncratic essays, such as The Worker, The Forest Passage, and The World-State, impressive narratives and journals reflecting on his experiences in the two world wars, as well as eleven novels and novellas. Storm of Steel is a true classic of war...



- By Erri De Luca

“I would like to open a door”—the sentence was uttered by a prisoner on death row for decades now, in San Quentin. For decades now he has not touched the handle of a door.

California has repudiated capital punishment, but when Jarvis Masters was sentenced to death the gas chambers were still working.

I’ve read his life story, recorded by the journalist, David Sheff: A Buddhist on Death Row (Simon & Schuster, 2020, Italian translation, Emanuela Alverà, Uniliber). Masters began practicing controlled breathing and meditation...


Double-Digit 6-Pack: A Holiday Brew Review


Why settle for a beer cocktail when you can enjoy a boozy beer?

As the holidays come round again
And you gather with family and friends,
Boozy beers make us merry
With malt, chocolate, cherry,
And spice. Here are six I commend.

For a booze-infused brew you’ll repeat,
Try this toffee-hued ale for a treat.
From oak barrels it comes
To dispel the doldrums,
Dragon’s Milk: strong, yet caramel-sweet.

From Left Hand, this Imperial Stout
Is what blissfully boozy’s about.
Though it’s called Wake Up Dead,
You’ll feel festive instead
And start toasting in sweet roasty bouts.

Dessert in a glass? Well, why...

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