Zadie Smith could write herself out of a Chinese takeout box, and that’s exactly what she does in her essay on the differences between British and American takeout culture, “Take It Or Leave It,” for The New Yorker. “I don’t think any nation should elevate service to the status of culture.”
“This is the odd space these Theory Generation novels inhabit, making them peculiar novels of ideas. Their writers have read enough Theory at a young enough age to be in continued thrall to its power; they do justice to the disorienting shock those texts once had, and perhaps still have. Yet they are old enough to ironize (tenderly or bitterly) that power.” Are you a member of the theory generation?
Growing up, Judy Bolton-Fasman watched her mother study Don Quixote, propping the book up on their kitchen counter while studying for her Master’s in Spanish literature. Her mother was a native speaker, but Cervantes was still a tough writer to figure out, especially if you were reading his work while trying to cook dinner in the background. The author looks back on her mother’s education in a Saturday Essay for The Rumpus.
In response to Natasha Vargas-Cooper’s argument that we should end high-school reading lists, our own Nick Ripatrazone defended reading lists here at The Millions. Now, on New Hampshire Public Radio, the two take the debate to the airwaves. (Bonus: Year in Reading alum Sam Lipsyte makes a cameo.)
Tim Weiner won the Pulitzer Prize for Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. Then, four years after its publication, he received a box of J. Edgar Hoover’s “personal files on [FBI] intelligence operations between 1945 and 1972” from a well-connected D.C. lawyer. That treasure trove of information has since wound up in his recently published book, Enemies: A History of the FBI, and he sat with NPR’s Terry Gross to talk all about it.