The lessons of “Keep the Aspidistra Flying” for millennials
WE have become accustomed to hearing how prescient “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (1949) feels in today’s political climate. Others point out echoes of “Animal Farm” (1945) in modern political rhetoric. But one of George Orwell’s lesser-known works also enjoys renewed relevance: “Keep the Aspidistra Flying” (1936)-a novel he was thoroughly dissatisfied with-captures the financial bind in which many millennials find themselves.
Sinéad O’Connor Has Never Been Timid
Sinéad O’Connor, to use her own verb, has been “crazied.” We’ve seen it before, with Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson, Kanye West. The press turns on an outspoken artist and is joined by millions of willing minions on social media. The artist-sensitive, vulnerable, human, and, like most people on the planet, susceptible to mental illness-suffers, and suffers publicly.
If Richard Dawkins can’t understand why he was no-platformed, then maybe he’s not as smart as he thinks he is
On Thursday KPFA Radio in Berkeley, California, sent emails to hundreds of people with tickets to hear Richard Dawkins speak, explaining the event had been cancelled due to Dawkins’s “abusive… tweets and other comments on Islam”. Professor Dawkins responded by saying: “I am known as a frequent critic of Christianity and have never been de-platformed for that.
Nick Cave, the Shaman
I was in Berlin at the Greenville Festival, the summer 2013, and I was having a bad day-entirely the fault of Kaiser Chiefs, an indie rock band from England. It was the singer. There was something small and loutish about him, his songs instantly forgettable, the riot he kept predicting more akin to a brawl in a suburban beer garden.
‘White Tears’ Is a New Novel About White People Stealing Black Music
White Tears, Hari Kunzru’s dark, phantasmagoric fifth novel, is about the cultural appropriation of black music.
George Michael and Me | LRB
I used to listen to Wham! in secret. It was 1984 and I was nine. My school was in a white and mostly working-class village in Lancashire. I knew only one other Wham! fan and, though it’s been thirty years since we last met, he was the first person I contacted after I heard George Michael had died.
Why I didn’t want to mark myself safe on Facebook during the Berlin attack
I live a mile away from Breitscheidplatz in Berlin, where 12 people were killed on Monday night after a lorry drove into a Christmas market. I could hear church bells ringing, odd at that time, and then my phone began to vibrate.
Peace Train in the Age of Donald Trump
Twelve days after the election of Donald Trump, I went to see Yusuf/ Cat Stevens in Soho, London. I suspect I was not alone in wondering what he would have to say about a President-elect who has called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
Touring Trump’s America on Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad
Touring Trump’s America on Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad won the National Book Award on Wednesday night. In his acceptance speech he told us, “We’re happy in here; outside is the blasted hellhole wasteland of Trumpland. Be kind to everybody. Make art and fight the power.”
An American State of Grace: Darkness and Light in Leonard Cohen’s Political Imagination
I saw Leonard Cohen in September 2012 at the Waldbühne in Berlin, a Nazi-built amphitheater only two years younger than himself. He was 78 at the time, and he sang for three and a half hours, including, shortly before the end, “First we Take Manhattan,” at which the crowd devotedly shouted the next line, “Then we take Berlin!”
Trump and White Narcissism
While President elect Donald Trump was giving his victory speech, my attention fell a few inches to his right onto the small, lily-white boy in a dark suit and silver tie. He, the 10 year old Barron Trump, son of Donald and Melania, was fidgeting, swaying, and seemed awkward, self-conscious, as though he would rather be anywhere than on that stage in front of the entire world.
Funny Writers of Color Are Finally Being Taken Seriously
This year, literature’s biggest prizes for fiction, the Pulitzer and the Booker, went to novels by American writers of color : Viet Nguyen’s sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.”
Opinion | The Nobel Committee got it wrong: Ngugi wa Thiong’o is the writer the world needs now
Rajeev Balasubramanyam is an award-winning novelist with a PhD in black and Asian British literature. His latest book is called “Starstruck.” He is on Twitter at @Rajeevbalasu. Every year I root for Ngugi wa Thiong’o to win the Nobel Prize for literature. The Kenyan writer has been a favorite to win for years.
Straight out of Wodehouse: could Boris Johnson be a Roderick Spode disguised as a Bertie Wooster?
Boris Johnson is often described as Wodehousian. He’s usually paired with Bertie Wooster, though recently there have been some anxious comparisons with the Eurosceptic Roderick Spode. Only Max Hastings, former editor of the Telegraph, has associated him with Gussie Fink-Nottle, and no one, so far as I know, has compared him to Jeeves.
No thank you, Jeeves | LRB
A few years ago, NewSouth Books provoked controversy by issuing an edition of Huckleberry Finn with the N-word (which appears more than 200 times in the novel) altered to ‘slave’. Who would be bowdlerised next? Conrad? Kipling? No one seemed to think of P.G.
Donald Trump, “American Psycho” muse: How the “Art of the Deal” elitist became a poor man’s Patrick Bateman – and now he’s a real threat
Three-quarters of the way through Brett Easton Ellis’s “American Psycho,” a detective visits Patrick Bateman’s office on Wall Street to inquire about a missing banker. Bateman, who has already told us how he murdered this man, does his best to remain calm.
Hollywood and the ‘R’ Word
by Rajeev Balasubramanyam Chris Rock did it. He used the ‘R-word’. ‘Here’s the real question,’ he said on Oscar night. ‘The real question everybody wants to know…: Is Hollywood racist? Is Hollywood racist?’ He said it twice. And then he answered it. ‘You’re damn right Hollywood is racist.
I’ve glimpsed Cameron, Blair and Thatcher up close in public – each time was very different
I saw David Cameron in the flesh yesterday. I was at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London to read from my new book which, ironically, consists of stories about young British-Asians having strange encounters with famous people, and there he was, he and the entire pro-European faction of the Conservative Party, Heseltine and Clarke included.