Protean Things

Protean Things

Hilary Mantel’s best-selling Tudor novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, have made their way to the stage on the expert handling of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Zach Rabiroff had front row center.

“Il n’y a pas d’Israël pour moi”

“Il n’y a pas d’Israël pour moi”

In Michel Houellebecq’s uncannily timely new novel, the triumph of an Islamist government relieves the dreary banality that defines the secular France of the 21st century.

Thinking in Quotations

Thinking in Quotations

On its schematic blueprints, the latest book by noted literary polymath Alberto Manguel is “about” Dante’s Divine Comedy – but as Robert Minto discovers, this author is at his best when he’s digressing.

Mary Anne and the Adventurer

Mary Anne and the Adventurer

Traditional cynicism has always maintained that Benjamin Disraeli married Mary Anne Wyndham Lewis primarily for her money, but a new book argues that the real picture was a good deal more complex – and interesting – than that.

Unconditional

Unconditional

An Orwellian dystopia, a deposed humanity, and a cat passionately in love with a dog – Justin Hickey reviews Robert Repino’s fiendishly clever novel Mort(e).

Fabergé Monsters

Fabergé Monsters

These fairies of the air are among the most beautiful sights of summer. They’re also 300 million years old and honed killing machines. A new book of photography shows us dragonflies as we’ve never seen them.

Press Enter

Press Enter

Author Jacob Silverman contends in his new book that the intrusions of social media into our private lives has reached sometimes intolerable extents. But what does he mean by “intolerable”? And who is he counting as “our”?

Members in Good Standing

Members in Good Standing

Two books by Mark Leibovitch create a picture of Beltway wheelings and dealings that’s almost unbearably incestuous, with virtually no lines drawn between elected officials and profiteering lobbyists. Greg Waldmann plumbs the depths and reports back.

One Encounter: John Koch’s Figure on a Bed

One Encounter: John Koch’s Figure on a Bed

In his painting “Figure on a Bed,” John Koch immortalizes the kind of private moment that’s usually lost in an instant – Brett Busang muses on one arresting piece of art.

Ruins, Mourning, and Cigarettes

Ruins, Mourning, and Cigarettes

Set in the precarious territory between fiction and history, Nicolas Rothwell’s beautiful, haunting Belomor explores the ways storytelling serves as an impetus for self-discovery.

Unmaking L’empereur

Unmaking <em>L’empereur</em>

The 2nd Light Battalion King’s Division played a pivotal role at the Battle of Waterloo, as a slim new history by Brendan Simms demonstrates. Matt Ray reviews the book in his Open Letters debut.

Realism and Russia’s Fate

Realism and Russia’s Fate

The star translating team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (aided this time by Richard Nelson) translate Turgenev’s A Month in the Country, with predictably disruptive results. Jack Hanson reviews.

It’s a Mystery: “Sit on the fence and people get killed behind it”

It’s a Mystery: “Sit on the fence and people get killed behind it”

Two grand novels of crime and passion from a pair of stars in the field: The Lady from Zagreb by Philip Kerr and Dennis Lehane’s World Gone By.

From the Archives: Reading Anthony Trollope

From the Archives: Reading Anthony Trollope

April 2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of great Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope. In this essay from 2009, Open Letters‘s resident Victorianist Rohan Maitzen looks at how this author made the everyday epic.