Having grown up in Russia, New Republic senior editor Julia Ioffe is in a uniquely good position to cover the Sochi Olympics, which is why she’s writing regular dispatches from this year’s Winter Games. On Saturday, she published a piece about one of the sadder (yet more predictable) developments of the Games: foreign journalists are bombarding gay residents of Sochi with questions and requests for interviews. (She’s also manning the magazine’s Instagram feed.)
Year in Reading alumna Parul Sehgal’s column for The New York Times debuted last week with her reflections on the great Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. As she puts it, “He is a spider of a writer: subtle and sly, patient, with invisible designs. He never proclaims — he never needs to. He envelops.” Pair with John Yargo’s Millions essay on Hrabal’s fiction.
“I war-gamed out everything. My biggest fear was that somebody tries to play out my book and finds out it won’t work.” At The New York Times, Alexandra Alter writes about the new Minecraft novel by Max Brooks, author of World War Z: “In the process, he may have also created a strange new entertainment category, one that hovers somewhere between fan fiction, role-playing games and literature — a novel set in a game, that can itself be played within the game.” And while we’re on the topic of games, let’s also talk about geekdom and race.
The Virginia Quarterly Review‘s Fall 2011 issue, “The Soviet Ghost“, is now available online. Not to be missed is Ed Ou’s heartbreaking essay and slideshow on how the Soviet government performed nuclear weapons tests on innocent Kazakh citizens. Dimiter Kenarov’s essay on Belarusian tractors is simultaneously a personal journey, an impressive work of history, and a good ol’ fashioned KGB crime story.