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When love means saying goodbye

Not going gentlyWhen love means saying goodbyeThe protagonist of Rick Gekoski’s novel faces a murder charge for helping his wife dieBooks & artsJul 11th 2020 editionDarke Matter. By Rick Gekoski. Constable; 336 pages; £16.99THE HERO of Rick Gekoski’s debut novel at first seemed to be a misanthropic crank. James Darke, a retired English teacher,...

The experiences of an obscure woman illuminate Japanese history

Japan under the shogunateThe experiences of an obscure woman illuminate Japanese historyTsuneno’s life was not heroic—but Amy Stanley’s patient reconstruction of it isBooks & artsJul 11th 2020 editionStranger in the Shogun’s City. By Amy Stanley.Scribner; 352 pages; $28. Chatto & Windus; £16.99IN THESE TIMES of self-isolation, it is worth remembering...

How the intellectual coalition forged by the cold war collapsed

Party like it’s 1999How the intellectual coalition forged by the cold war collapsedIt splintered amid the rise of populism, as Anne Applebaum recounts in “Twilight of Democracy”Books & artsJul 11th 2020 editionTwilight of Democracy. By Anne Applebaum. Doubleday; 224 pages; $25. Penguin; £16.99.FOR AT LEAST a decade after the end of the cold war,...

Papers should print offensive language if it is crucial to a story

JohnsonPapers should print offensive language if it is crucial to a storyThe issue is part of a larger question: should they publish upsetting material?Books & artsJul 11th 2020 editionTHIS COLUMN comes with an unusual warning—the type that is sometimes called a trigger warning. It will mention a word that was once in common usage in parts of the...

Choral singing has been hit hard by the pandemic

Voices offChoral singing has been hit hard by the pandemicIts social aspect—the main appeal for many singers—now makes it seem riskyBooks & artsA FEW MONTHS ago Emilia Olsson, a social worker in Sweden, received an email from her amateur choir informing her that, because of covid-19, there would be no rehearsals for a couple of weeks. Then they...

The jolting artistry of Michaela Coel

Creative destructionThe jolting artistry of Michaela CoelThe writer and star of “I May Destroy You” explains her arresting styleBooks & artsJul 4th 2020 editionEVERY YEAR the Edinburgh Television Festival, one of the highlights of the industry’s calendar, invites a prominent figure to deliver a talk known as the MacTaggart lecture. Past speakers...

Donald Trump is not like other presidents, argues Masha Gessen

Orange warningDonald Trump is not like other presidents, argues Masha Gessen“Surviving Autocracy” chronicles his tussles with America’s institutionsBooks & artsJul 4th 2020 editionSurviving Autocracy. By Masha Gessen.Riverhead Books; 288 pages; $26. Granta; £12.TWO DAYS after Donald Trump was elected, Masha Gessen argued in the New York Review of...

A pair of displaced dynasties shaped two extraordinary cities

A night at the CathayA pair of displaced dynasties shaped two extraordinary citiesTwo new books chronicle the making of Shanghai and Hong KongBooks & artsJul 4th 2020 editionThe Last Kings of Shanghai. By Jonathan Kaufman.Viking; 384 pages; $28. Little, Brown; £20.Champions Day: The End of Old Shanghai. By James Carter.W.W. Norton; 352 pages; $28.95...

A French politician’s secret child re-evaluates her life

Cherchez les femmesA French politician’s secret child re-evaluates her lifeBut in “The Margot Affair” it is her mother, not her absent father, who commands most attentionBooks & artsJul 4th 2020 editionThe Margot Affair. By Sanaë Lemoine.Hogarth; 336 pages; $27. Sceptre; £16.99.WHEN THE existence of François Mitterrand’s secret child was revealed...

Chekhov’s trip to Sakhalin puts lockdown in perspective

Home EntertainmentChekhov’s trip to Sakhalin puts lockdown in perspectiveWhen he crossed the strait to the island prison colony, the writer felt he was entering hellBooks & artsJul 4th 2020 editionALONG THE Siberian highway, between Tyumen and Tomsk, Anton Chekhov stayed the night in a coach driver’s cabin. Two months earlier a gentlewoman had stopped...

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