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.)
As you probably read last week, Elon Musk (founder and CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX) is sure that we're living in a computer-generated simulation. Over at The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman takes a hard look and tries to determine the actual odds of humans inhabiting a simulated world.
Out this week: Bardo or Not Bardo by Antoine Volodine; My Mrs. Brown by William Norwich; The Regional Office Is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales; Mount Pleasant by Patrice Nganang; The Houseguest by Kim Brooks; and Ear to the Ground by David L. Ulin and Paul Kolsby. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
In 1847, Charles Dickens founded a house for homeless women in the Shepherd’s Bush neighborhood of London. After setting up the center’s amenities, he publicized the house using leaflets and, upon hearing that London society was shocked that the center had a piano, spread a rumor that the center boasted a piano for every resident. At The Guardian, a look at a letter Dickens wrote to the matron of the house, to be sold at Christie’s in May. (h/t The Paris Review)
This essay from Adrian Barnes at The Daily Beast on cancer and fiction and how the two mirror one another is eerie and fascinating. This review of Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby from The Millions addresses this tendency of writing and real world illnesses to feed of of one another.