Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Mr. B : George Balanchine’s 20th century by Jennifer Homans. -2022 - 1234 Page

 Mr. B : George Balanchine’s 20th century by Jennifer Homans. -2022 - 1234 Pages

On Saturday, May 20, BIO was proud to announce the winner of this year's Plutarch Award, presented to the best biography of 2022.  

A big congratulations to Jennifer Homans, author of MR. B: GEORGE BALANCHINE'S 20th CENTURY. It's a truly extraordinary book.

George Balanchine

January 22, 1904- St. Petersburg Russia
1913- age 9, accepted into Imperial Ballet School
1917- The Fall of the Tsarist regime 
1924- leaves Russia to tour Europe- settles in Paris
1933- moves to New York City
1938 - Hollywood Calls
Along the way he marries five of his dancers and has numerous relationships
He creates and produces incredible ballets, he returns to Russia in an tour based in his mind on showing American based ballet is superior to Russian. He was vehemently anti-communist and proud to be an American.
April 30, 1983 he passes away in New York City.

This book is a masterpiece. If you have been into ballet all your life you will treasure it, if like me, you have never seen a ballet you will be overwhelmed by the extreme cultural depth of the world Jennifer Homans has presented. The cast of characters is immense, fascinating. The story begins in pre-revoluntunary Russia,suffers through the fall of the Tsar,with young George eating rats, lingers for a while then proceeds to Paris, travels in Weimer Germany, spends a bit of time in London then settles in New York City with some interludes in Hollywood.

There is just so much in this book. I will just talk about a few of the things that jumped out at me. One was Balanchine’s attitude toward women. He loved women but he could be cruel, firing a dancer for gaining a few pounds, pressuring his dancers not to have boyfriends, especially husbands and avoid pregnancy. Dancers, male and female, wanted very much to please him, being given a starring role in a Balanchine production meant everything.

He was an avid life time reader. Among his core texts were Don Quioxte, Tolstoy, Nietsche's The Birth of Tradgedy, Gogol, and the Bible. He was a Russian Orthodox Christian. The ballet world attracted gay men, as dancers and patrons. There seems no indication Balanchine had same sex relations but his principal financial backers did. As time went on he had romantic relations with women 30 or more years younger than him. Some had boyfriends who accepted his relationship, perhaps with pecuniary motives.  

Balanchine liked fine restaurants, cooking, wine, giving jewellery to dancers he liked. His finances were handled by a long time aid. People often would work many years for him, he inspired loyalty. Above all he loved the dance.
I was thrilled by his love for my favourite post Tsarist novel, The Master and Margarita. I think I will try to reread it based on the information given by Homans. I smiled when I learned Coco Chanel designed some costumes. I am familiar with the history of the Warburg family and enjoyed reading about Eddie Warburg's support of Balanchine’s dance company.

Balanchine was fascinated by Sufi mysticism. He wanted to incorporate African American music and dancers in his productions. He brought in dancers from the Harlem Ballet company.His work was often very sexually charged.

He eventually got very large grants from the Ford Foundation which were used in part to fund hundreds of ballet scholarships.

As he aged he had serious health issues. In his will he left various dances to individual dancers.  

We get to know lots of people, some famous like Stravinsky, Balanchine’s wives and sundry girl friends, business managers.

Homans spent ten years working on Mr. B : George Balanchine’s 20th century, she interviewed over 200 persons. I will let her tell us how working on this book impacted her.

"researching Balanchine for this book has been the greatest adventure and challenge of my professional life. I worked for over a decade, and he led me to archives across Russia, Europe, and the Americas and into vast areas of literature, music, and art: Sufism andmysticism, Plato, Galen, Spinoza, Goethe, Cervantes, and Hoffmann, to mention a few favorites, along with Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Mayakovsky, Blok, and Bulgakov—and the Bible, always the Bible. I found myself immersed in art from icons and religious and Renaissance painting to Malevich, Beckmann, Dalí, Gross, Matisse, Picasso, Derain, and Tchelitchew—many of whom Balanchine knew and worked with. I learned about starvation, TB, polio, mad cow disease, and other ailments that afflicted his body and threatened his life. I went to St. Petersburg and retraced his childhood path and followed him to Georgia, themythic land he claimed as his own but only laid eyes on in 1962 at the height of the Cold War. I met what family remains, found his mother’s home, and stood by his father’s grave; I traveled to the Gelati Monastery up a winding road high on a misty peak, where an old photo shows Balanchine gazing at the ancient frescoes, outlawed as objects of veneration by the Soviets in their anti-God fury. I went to the hospital in Copenhagen where he cared for his fifth wife, Tanaquil Le Clercq, after she was stricken with polio, and traversed the streets and canals of the city. I climbed the stairs of his apartment in Paris ...The cast of characters was huge, from the family he left in Russia, the towering roles played by Lincoln Kirstein and Jerome Robbins, his five wives and many loves, right down to the last stagehand at the theater. He seemed to stand at the apex of all their lives..Music, Balanchine’s holiest of holies, took me from Bach, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky through to Stravinsky, Hindemith, Ives, American jazz, and the experiments of Xenakis." From the Preface

Jennifer Homans is the dance critic for The New Yorker. Her widely acclaimed Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet was a bestseller and named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review. Trained in dance at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet, she performed professionally with the Pacific Northwest Ballet. She earned her BA at Columbia University and her PhD in modern European history at New York University, where she is a scholar in residence and the founding director of the Center for Ballet and the Arts

I eagerly anticipate reading her Appolo's Angels: A History of Ballet next month.

YouTube has videos of several Balanchine ballets and interviews with dancers from his companies.
I was thrilled to see The Manila Ballet Company will feature one of Balanchine’s most famous works, Don Quioxte next month.

Mel Ulm

Friday, April 28, 2023

THE CAUCASUS Translated by Ivan Bunin - A Short Story-1937- 5 pages- translated from the by Russian by Sophie Lund -1984 - Included in The Gentleman from San Francisco and Other Stories

 The Caucases by Ivan Bunin - A Short Story-1937- 5 pages- translated from the by Russian by Sophie Lund -1984 -

Included in The Gentleman from San Francisco and Other Stories

Ivan Bunin

“What the Russian Revolution turned into very soon, none will comprehend who has not seen it. This spectacle was utterably unbearable to any one who had not ceased to be a man in the image and likeness of God, and all who had a chance to flee, fled from Russia.” - Ivan Bunin

October 22, 1870 - Born Voronezh, Russia
March 28, 1920 - moves to Paris where he Will spend The rest of his Life, with countryside interludes 

1933 - first Russian to win the Nobel Prize

November 8, 1953 - dies in Paris 

Bunin moved to Paris in 1920, his heart broken by the fall of The Romanovs from power in Russia. He, like many Russian Émigrés, spent the rest of his life dreaming of the old days and fantasying about the restoration of a Tsar, along with the return of his family estate.

Once it became clear that the Bolsheviks would be victorious in the ensuing civil war, Bunin emigrated from Russia, never to return. In 1920, at the age of fifty, he had to start a new life and literary career in western Europe. He suffered first a long and tortured affair and then a disastrous marriage, the collapse of which was followed by the death of his only child at the age of five.

His stories bring to my mind the nostalgia for pre-revoluntunary Russian exhibited in , Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisted by Vladimir Nabokov that I read earlier this month.

"The Caucases" is the fifth story I have so far featured on The Reading Life.

Today's brief story centers on what happens when a woman married to a Tsarist Russian Army officer runs of with one of his men.

The couple has made elaborate plans how to get away. They take a train. The wife fears her husband will stop at nothing to track them down, feeling entitled by honor to kill them.

‘It seems to me,’ she said, ‘that he suspects something, maybe knows something. Perhaps he’s read one of your letters, or found a key to fit my desk … I think, with his harsh proud nature, he’s capable of anything. Once he told me, point-blank: “I’ll stop at nothing to defend my honour, the honour of an officer and a husband.” Now, for some reason, he literally watches my every move, and if our plan is to succeed I must be extremely careful … He’s already agreed to let me go because I’ve convinced him that I’ll die unless I get a glimpse of the south and the sea, but in the name of God be patient!’"

 Before she left she gave him a deceptive reason why she was leaving and gave him false information as to where she was going. They are very cautious not to be seen boarding the train together.

(Spolier alert)

Of late I have been dominated in my thoughts by the passing of my beloved wife of many years, long before her time.

The husband does find them but the ending is not what they feared. He takes his revenge:

"He searched for her in Gelendzhik, in Gagry and in Sochi. On the morning after his arrival in Sochi he swam in the sea, then shaved, put on a clean shirt and a snow-white, high-collared tunic, lunched at his hotel on the terrace of the restaurant, drank a bottle of champagne, took coffee with chartreuse, and smoked a leisurely cigar. Returning to his room, he lay down on the divan and using two revolvers shot himself through both temples."

The story elegantly describes the beauty of the Caucases. There is a delightful scene in which a family of snow leopards approach the train.

Mel Ulm 

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Hippolytus by Euripides- 428 B. C. E. - translated by Rachel Kitzinger- 2016- included in Sixteen Plays by Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides-Preface, general introduction, play introductions, and compilation copyright © 2016 by Mary Lefkowitz and James Romm

 Hippolytus by Euripides- 428 B. C. E. - translated by Rachel Kitzinger- 2016- included in Sixteen Plays by Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides-Preface, general introduction, play introductions, and compilation copyright © 2016 by Mary Lefkowitz and James Romm 

An Ancient Reads Project Work

Euripides:died 7 406 BC (aged approximately 74); Macedonia

Born: c. 480 BC; Salamis

CAST OF CHARACTERS (IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE) APHRODITE, goddess of sexual love; also known as Cypris HIPPOLYTUS, son of Theseus, the king of Athens, by an Amazon queen HIPPOLYTUS’ FELLOW HUNTERS, a group of slaves from his household OLD SLAVE, an attendant to Hippolytus 

CHORUS of young married women of Troezen 

NURSE, Phaedra’s personal attendant

 PHAEDRA, wife of Theseus; daughter of King Minos and Queen Pasiphae of Crete

 THESEUS, king of Athens

MESSENGER, an attendant of Hippolytus ARTEMIS, virgin goddess of the hunt, of wild things, and of childbirth

Wikipedia has a good summary of the plot and background of the play.

My reading and thinking is now shaped by my intense sorrow over the passing of my beloved wife last year. Tomorrow will be our 17th wedding anniversary.

"THESEUS: I long for the darkness below the earth, I long to die, to dwell in wretched darkness there, now I’ve lost your precious company." 

I felt a deep empathy with the words of Theseus concerning the death of his wife.

The attitude toward the competing Goddesses, APHRODITE and Artemis is that harm to humans is just "collateral damage".

By the time Seneca wrote a play based on this, entitled Phaedra, around 500 years later in 58 A.D., many in his elite audience no longer had a literal belief in these Gods but saw the story as a use of these figures to explain very destructive and irrational human behavior.

I have on my reading list Phèdre by Racine first preformed in 1677 in Paris.

The anthology pictured in this post is an excellent starting point in Greek Drama.

Mel Ulm

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

"Everything My Mother Taught Me" by Alice Hoffman- 2019 - A Short Story


"Everything My Mother Taught Me" by Alice Hoffman- 2019 - A Short Story

A few days ago I read a very moving short story by Alice Hoffman, "The Bookstore Sisters". The death of the husband of one of the sisters is at the heart of the plot. My own life is now totally overshadowed by the passing of my wife last year. Today's Alice Hoffman story, "Everything My Mother taught Me" centers on a girl in her early teens trying to cope with the way too early death of her very loving father. Upon his death, the girl stops speaking

Her mother is a despicable person, she cheated on her husband and made no efforts to help her daughter cope. She resented her daughter as she felt men would not be interested in her because of what she perceived as an unfair encumbrance.

The mother gets a job on a lighthouse island, doing laundry and being a servant to the wives of the three lighthouse keepers.  

I do not want to give the away how the girl finds a path out of her pain but the plot twists are brilliant and I loved the ending 

I am still seeking suggestions as to further reads in Alice Hoffman

 Alice Hoffman is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty works of fiction, including Practical Magic, The Dovekeepers, Magic Lessons, and most recently, The Book of Magic. Her works have been translated into more than twenty languages, she has been 
Nominated for multiple awards, and adapted for the screen. She lives in Boston. Visit her website at

Mel Ulm

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited by Vladimir Nabokov - 1947 -352 Pages

 Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisted by Vladimir Nabokov - 1947 - 352 pages

"THE present work is a systematically correlated assemblage of personal recollections ranging geographically geographically from St. Petersburg to St. Nazaire, and covering thirty-seven years, from August 1903 to May 1940, with only a few sallies into later space-time." From the Preface

Novels by Vladimir Nabokov- written originally in English

• (1941) The Real Life of Sebastian Knight

• (1947) Bend Sinister

• (1955) Lolita, self-translated into Russian (1965)

• (1957) Pnin

• (1962) Pale Fire

• (1969) Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle

• (1972) Transparent Things

• (1974) Look at the Harlequins!

Born: April 22, 1899, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Moves to America 1940- becomes US Citizen in 1945

1961 moves to Switzerland 

Died: July 2, 1977, Montreux, Switzerland

Children: Dmitri Nabokov

Spouse: Véra Nabokova (m. 1925–1977)

Nabokov published two collections of verse, Poems (1916) and Two Paths (1918), before leaving Russia in 1919. He and his family made their way to England, and he attended Trinity College, Cambridge, on a scholarship provided for the sons of prominent Russians in exile.

Lolita transformed Nabokov life to that of a rich writer, from book sales and the movie rights. It is by consensus one of the greatest 20th century novels. The narrator is a European who sees American culture as decadent and shallow.

The memoir, a collection of rewritten for the book articles from various publications such as the New Yorker and Paris Review, covers the first 40 years of his life.

Nabokov was born into a fabulously wealthy Russian family with noble roots he traces to the 14th century. At one point his family had 50 servants. Nabokov's memoir is not straight forwardly chronological. He jumps from early childhood, focusing a lot on his tutors, to the rise of the Bolsheviks, World War One and the fall of the Tsar. There are elegant descriptions of his parents, his youthful crushes, lots of comments on servants, his sundry governess and such.

Here is a description of a teenage crush

"Seen through the carefully wiped lenses of time, the beauty of her face is as near and as glowing as ever. She was short and a trifle on the plump side but very graceful, with her slim ankles and supple waist. A drop of Tatar or Circassian blood might have accounted for the slight slant in her eyes."

Here is his description of some books he found at age eight,perhaps the genesis of a life time interest butterflies and moths:

"In the store house storeroom of our country house, among all kinds of dusty objects, I discovered some wonderful books acquired in the days when my mother’s mother had been interested in natural science and had had a famous university professor of zoology (Shimkevich) give private lessons to her daughter. ...Still more exciting were the products of the latter half of the century—Newman’s Natural History of British Butterflies and Moths, Hofmann’s Die Gross-Schmetterlinge Europas, the Grand Duke Nikolay Mihailovich’s Mémoires on Asiatic lepidoptera (with incomparably beautiful figures painted by Kavrigin, Rybakov, Lang), Scudder’s stupendous work on the butterflies of England."

This is an elegant work of deep culture. Nabokov is famously dismissive of Frued as well as Stendhal, Balzac and Zola. He references Tolstoy and Gogol several times.There is a lot of fascinating material upon pre-revoluntunary Russia. When Nabokov talks of white Russians and I thought of the viciously anti-semetic activity of White Russian forces who blamed Jews for the fall of the Tsar.

Mel Ulm 

Monday, April 24, 2023

The Hillside by Jane Smiley - A Short Story- 16 Pages

 "The Hillside" by Jane Smiley - A Short Story- 16 Pages - An Amazon Orginal Short Story

Yesterday, I am a bit embarrassed to acknowledge, I had never heard of The Pulitzer Prize winning author Jane Smiley. Now with this delightful story I found myself adding her works to my Amazon Wish List.

"The Hillside" is kind of like a post apostolic fairy tale in which humans have been reduced to an uncivilised states supervised by intelligent animals. The setting is so far advanced in the timeline of this alternative world that the legends that humans once dominated over animals, rode horses, and were the beings who created the debris of Lost cities are regarded as completely preposterous.

"Many younger horses refused to believe that there had ever been all-knowing and all-powerful humans who could rule horses, or cats, or fly through the air or destroy everything around them. They laughed at the “old believers”—all you had to do was look at a human, run after a human, give a human a little kick and knock it over, and it was evident that the Great Human Age was purely imaginary. Far easier to look at humans and see why they were reviled outcasts in this long valley, and why the small band that still remained had to be closely monitored by young mares like High Note.."

Dogs were all killed off long ago as servants of humans. Cats insisted they were just taking advantage of the stupid humans.

A lot of animals want all humans exterminated.

"The inquiry was part of a larger case: the Congress of Animals (representing not only bears, cats, horses, and rats, which High Note had seen, but also gorillas, bison, antelopes, crocodiles, and other animals that High Note had never seen) had declared that humans, as a danger to the planet, must be exterminated once and for all, no exceptions. The crime and the danger was that humans in another district had harnessed fire."

The plot turns on High Notes emotional involvement with a human female, Plucky, she has observed in her work.

"The Hillside" was a tremendously enjoyable story. It also might make you think about the nature of hatred, of human destruction and enslavement of billions of animals.  

I am hoping others can suggest where I should proceed on in Jane Smiley 

Jane Smiley is the author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel A Thousand Acres. The recipient of the O. Henry Award and the Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature, Smiley has published her work in the New Yorker, Elle, the New York Times, and Harper’s. She lives in California.

Mel Ulm

Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Book Store Sisters by Alice Hoffman - A Short Story -36 Pages- 2022

 “Are you my sister or aren’t you?” Sophie’s face was pale; her black hair was knotted. She looked wild-eyed, and ready to snap. “Of course I am.” Was she being asked to forget her apartment, her job, her own life? “I can stay with you until you get over Matt.” It was the absolute worst thing to say. Isabel knew that it was as soon as she blurted it out, but words that have been said cannot be unspoken, and Sophie was hurt beyond measure. “Is that what you think happens when you lose someone you love? You get over them? You forget them and go on as if they never existed?" From "The Bookstore Sisters" by Alice Hoffman

This beautifully wrought story is my first venture into the vast oeuvre of Alice Hoffman.

Anyone who has experienced the loss the closest person in the world to them will relate to this story. Anyone who has ever thought to escape from a world they hated in reading will see themselves in one of the two sisters. Those who have never really coped with their memories of the inadequacy of their parents will see a truth here.

The story can be read in under an hour (it is included in The Kindle Unlimited Program). It is about the reunion of two long estranged, one stayed on a remote Maine in the family bookstore while the other moved to NYC.

I have now added several of Alice Hoffman's 30 novels to my Amazon Wish List 

Please share your suggestions for my next reading of Hoffman.

Alice Hoffman is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty works of fiction, including Practical Magic, The Dovekeepers, Magic Lessons, and most recently, The Book of Magic. Her works have been translated into more than twenty languages, 
Nominated for multiple awards, and adapted for the screen. She lives in Boston. Visit her website at

Mel Ulm 

Friday, April 21, 2023

Shosha by Issac Bashevis Singer - first published 1974- translated from Yiddish by Joseph Singer - 261 Pages


Issac Singer (1902-1991-born Poland) won the Nobel Prize in 1986 for the full body of his work. He is best known to the general public as the author of Yentil, the basis for a very popular movie. Singer's, even though he left Poland in 1935 because of the rise of the Nazis, work is very rooted in the culture in which he was raised. He became an American citizen. Singer died and is buried in Florida. . He indicated his biggest influences as a short story writer were Anton Chekhov and Guy de Maupassant

Hitler invaded Poland in September of 1939.  Shosha is set shortly before that happens but all the Jews in Warsaw so disaster coming for them. The fear of Hitler hangs over the community.

As in others of his novels, the first person narrator is a middle age man of Jewish heritage whose life experiences and study of history have made him sceptical of Orthodox theology, he borders on atheist views at times.
The narrator is a playwright, a novelist and essayist who writes in Yiddish and Polish. He makes a living from this. He married to Dora, a dedicated communist who will leave him to make a disastrous Moscow sojourn. He has numerous other relationships with women.

He is hired by a rich American Jew to write a play for his Yiddish actress mistress to star in. He is well paid for this and his relationships with the man and the woman play a very important part in the plot.

Sosha is a learning disable girl, behind also in her physical development. She might be in her midteens. The narrator develops a strange and to me a bit creepy relationship with her and her mother. The girl's father deserted them long ago.

More and more Jews want out of Poland, they have heard Hitler's rants on the radio. The playwright is offered a complicated chance to leave.

I greatly enjoyed the way Singer flashed forward ten years. The narrator works as a writer in NYC and we learn what happened to the other characters 

Mel Ulm

Thursday, April 20, 2023

How to Hide an Empire: a History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr.- 2019 - 517 Pages

How to hide an empire: a history of the greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr.- 2019 - 517 Pages

Named one of the ten best books of the year by the Chicago Tribune
A Publishers Weekly best book of 2019 | A 2019 NPR Staff pick.

A pathbreaking history of the United States’ overseas possessions and the true meaning of its empire

This standard time line leaves itself open to the suggestion that the Philippines had no history prior to 1531.

• Spanish rule (1521–1898)

• American rule (1898–1946)

• Japanese occupation (1941–1946)

• Philippine self rule (1946–present)

Immerwahr book exposes the racist ideas inherent in not seeing any import to learning about the history of the Philippines before 1531.

"In How to Hide an Empire, Daniel Immerwahr tells the fascinating story of the United States outside the United States. In crackling, fast-paced prose, he reveals forgotten episodes that cast American history in a new light. We travel to the Guano Islands, where prospectors collected one of the nineteenth century’s most valuable commodities, and the Philippines, site of the most destructive event on U.S. soil. In Puerto Rico, Immerwahr shows how U.S. doctors conducted grisly experiments they would never have conducted on the mainland and charts the emergence of independence fighters who would shoot up the U.S. Congress.

In the years after World War II, Immerwahr notes, the United States moved away from colonialism. Instead, it put innovations in electronics, transportation, and culture to use, devising a new sort of influence that did not require the control of colonies. Rich with absorbing vignettes, full of surprises, and driven by an original conception of what empire and globalization mean today, How to Hide an Empire is a major and compulsively readable work of history."
From the publisher 

I found this book of significant personal interest. Twenty years ago I moved from Florida to the Philippines. I began to learn the culture and the history. Everywhere fast food places with American pedigrees are ubiquitous. The dictator Ferdinand Marcos was propped up by the US. TV, movie and streaming services are dominated by American products. Without a very high proficiency in English, it is very hard to get a professional job.  

The USA bought the Philippines from Spain after it beat Spain in a war. They also got Puerto Rico, Guam and some very small islands. Immerwahr spends a lot of time detailing the 13 year waged by Philippino guerrillas and armies in a failed attempt to gain independence. The Americans killed not just fighters by women, children, even Infants. The American forces were much better equipped. Many of their officers were veterans of wars against Native Americans. When some later suggested statehood for the country the response of American politicians was no way was a non-whites dominated territory going to be allowed a state

When the US military prevailed in the Mexican-American War, in 1848, many in Congress wanted to annex all of Mexico. In the end, the victor limited its spoils to the most northerly, least populated areas (including the current states of California, Nevada, and Utah) —“all the territory of value that we can get without taking the people,” as one newspaper editorialized. Or as John C. Calhoun, the pro-slavery senator from South Carolina, put it: “We have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race.” 

The same objections were raised to western territories to Alaska and Hawawi for a long time.

Immerwahr goes into a lot of detail on Douglas MacArthur's long relationship with the Philippines including his return to lead the US attack on Japanese forces, his governing of the post war country and his absolute rule of Japan.

  The Philippines in particular suffered deeply. Expecting independence after the Spanish were vanquished, this archipelago of more than two thousand islands instead endured an American takeover that led to fourteen years of warfare, with more deaths than the Civil War, including the worst massacre by Americans in recorded history (the Battle of Bud Dajo, in which nearly one thousand Filipino Muslims were slaughtered). The country’s anguish, and American indifference to it, persisted into the mid-twentieth century: Immerwahr’s descriptions of how the Filipinos experienced World War II — caught between the Japanese occupiers and an American government much more focused on the war in Europe — are especially disturbing. 

Immerwahr devotes a lot of time to talking about Puerto Rica how has never been given the level of help as American states have been during natural disasters. Puerto Ricans were used as test subjects in medical tests without their knowledge.

I found Immerwahr's information on the Guano Islands fascinating as I had no prior knowledge of the extreme importance of these small uninhabited islands in the Pacific to American food production.

Immerwahr provides a very informative account of the latest phase of American empire — the post–World War II era. With decolonization sweeping Africa and Asia, the optics of the world’s triumphant democracy holding on to its possessions would have been abysmal. So the four largest territories all got decolonized in some fashion: in 1946 the Philippines received its independence; in 1952 Puerto Rico was granted what Immerwahr calls the “nebulous status” of commonwealth; and in 1959, Alaska and Hawaii became states. 

There is much more in this book. All with a serious interest in American history will be enthralled by this book.

Daniel Immerwahr is an associate professor of history at Northwestern University and the author of Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development, which won the Organization of American Historians’ Merle Curti Intellectual History Award. He has written for Slate, n+1, and Dissent, among others.

Mel Ulm


Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Which Way by Theodora Benson-first published in 1931 This edition published in 2021 by The British Library 96 Euston Road London nw1 2db Copyright © 2021 Estate of Theodora Benson Preface copyright © 2021 Tanya Kirk Afterword copyright © 2021 Simon Thomas

Which Way by Theodora Benson-first published in 1931 This edition published in 2021 by The British Library 96 Euston Road London nw1 2db Copyright © 2021 Estate of Theodora Benson Preface copyright © 2021 Tanya Kirk Afterword copyright © 2021 Simon Thomas

Part of a curated collection of forgotten works by early to mid-century women writers, the British Library Women Writers series highlights the best middlebrow fiction from the 1910s to the 1960s, offering escapism, popular appeal and plenty of period detail to amuse, surprise and inform.” From The British Library

21st August 1906 - Eleanor Theodora Roby Benson is born to Godfrey Rathbone Benson, 1st Baron Charnwood and Dorothea Mary Roby Thorpe. Theodora is their third child.
June 1925 - Theodora made her debut into society.
October 1928 - Theodora’s first novel, ‘Salad Days’, is published in London by Cayme Press.
October 1930 - Theodora’s first novel written in collaboration with Betty Askwith, ‘Lobster Quadrille’, is published by Grant Richards.
18th January 1938 - Theodora becomes a regular columnist for ‘The Daily Mirror’ newspaper.
11th October 1947 - Theodora makes her BBC radio debut as a writer.
25th December 1968 - Theodora dies on Christmas Day at the age of 62. The cause of death is attributed to pneumonia. She never married 

There are currently 15 works in the British Library Women Writers Series. I am hoping to read through them EVENTUALLY. Most are fairly brief and all include author bios and expert commentaries. The Kindle Editions are under $4.00.

British Women Library Women Series Works I have so far read

Strange Journey by Maud Cairnes -1935
The Love Child by Edith Olivier - 1927
Tea is So Intoxicating by Ursula Bloom (writing as Mary Essex)- 1950
Father by Elizabeth Von Armin - 1931

We often wonder how our lives might have turned on seemingly at the moment inconsequential decisions. In Which Way Benson shows us how three different decisions about how to spend a weekend lead Claudia on three very different paths. 

I very much enjoyed the elegant descriptions of Claudia's social circles. We see how her decisions lead her to relationships with different sorts of men, to marriage, or otherwise.

I loved the wonderful literary quotations with which the chapters begin. The authors include classic English poets like Wordsworth and Tennyson, the translated work of Gilbert Murray to several French writers. Claudia spends some time in Paris and there are several delightful epistles dedicated as to how Claudia will spend her weekend.

I will next in this series read An Invitation to See the Peep Show.

Monday, April 17, 2023

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow - 2021- 674 Pages


The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow - 2021- 674 Pages


"A dramatically new understanding of human history, challenging our most fundamental assumptions about social evolution—from the development of agriculture and cities to the origins of the state, democracy, and inequality—and revealing new possibilities for human emancipation.

For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike—either free and equal innocents, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or, alternatively, by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the eighteenth century as a conservative reaction to powerful critiques of European society posed by Indigenous observers and intellectuals. Revisiting this encounter has startling implications for how we make sense of human history today, including the origins of farming, property, cities, democracy, slavery, and civilization itself.

Drawing on pathbreaking research in archaeology and anthropology, the authors show how history becomes a far more interesting place once we learn to throw off our conceptual shackles and perceive what’s really there. If humans did not spend 95 percent of their evolutionary past in tiny bands of hunter-gatherers, what were they doing all that time? If agriculture, and cities, did not mean a plunge into hierarchy and domination, then what kinds of social and economic organization did they lead to? The answers are often unexpected, and suggest that the course of human history may be less set in stone, and more full of playful, hopeful possibilities, than we tend to assume.

The Dawn of Everything fundamentally transforms our understanding of the human past and offers a path toward imagining new forms of freedom, new ways of organizing society. This is a monumental book of formidable intellectual range, animated by curiosity, moral vision, and a faith in the power of direct action." From the publisher 

As my reading life goes on into it's seventh decade I am finding more and more a need to reexamine things taught in my days of school and my subsequent reading.

This book has fascinating information on diverse tribal groups throughout pre-circa 17th Times. We see the ways indigenous Americans structured their societies. I had no idea how much the philosophical thinking of the enlightenment was impacted by native intellectuals

The authors draw on anthropology for insight into ancient societies 

This a truly great book 

"What is the purpose of all this new knowledge, if not to reshape our conceptions of who we are and what we might yet become? If not, in other words, to rediscover the meaning of our third basic freedom: the freedom to create new and different forms of social reality? Myth in itself is not the problem here. It shouldn’t be mistaken for bad or infantile science. Just as all societies have their science, all societies have their myths. Myth is the way in which human societies give structure and meaning to experience. But the larger mythic structures of history we’ve been deploying of 
the last several centuries simply don’t work any more; they are impossible to reconcile with the evidence now before our eyes, and the structures and meanings they encourage are tawdry, shop-worn and politically disastrous."

David Graeber was a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics. He is the author of Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, and Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia, among many other books. He was an iconic thinker and a renowned activist, and his early efforts in Zuccotti Park made Occupy Wall Street an era-defining movement. He died in 2020.

David Wengrow is a professor of comparative archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, and has been a visiting professor at New York University. He is the author of several books, including What Makes Civilization? Wengrow conducts archaeological fieldwork in Africa and the Middle East, and has contributed to The Guardian and The New York Times.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives By Siddharth Kara -January 31, 2023 - 288 Pages

Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives
By Siddharth Kara -January 31, 2023 - 288 Page

This powerful account of how and why cobalt especially along with other minerals like uranium found almost exclusively in the Congo brought great misery to millions of Congo residents and great wealth to international corporations like Apple and Tesla will shock anyone of integrity who reads it.

Cobalt is an essential ingredient in rechargeable lithium batteries that power tablets, smart phones and electric vehicles. Billions of people depend on these devices, I am writing this on a tablet.Lithium batters helped make Apple the most valuable brand in the world, Elton Musk incredibly wealth, and are behind Kamala Harris's visit to Africa and China 's huge investments there. All this depends on mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kara details profusely Chinese control of Cobalt mining.

Kara vividly details the horrid lives of miners in the Congo. He provides a brief history of European exploitation of the resources of the Congo.

From the start of the Slave trade, King Leopold's rule over rubber which lead to millions of deaths, up to post colonial leadership of the country Kara shows us a cruel history 

Miners make about $2.00 at most under terrible totally unsafe conditions. The air and the water are horrifyingly unsafe. Health care is nonexistent. Miners are watched over by armed guards. Mining companies pay huge bribes to Congo officials. Middlemen exploit miners, child labor is supposed to be illegal but Kara says under seven work in dangerous mines. People are so desperate and scared of armed guards, government forces they flock from all over to the mines. Injuries and respiratory illness are common place. Girls get pregnant in their middle teens and work with their babies strapped on their backs. Prostitution is an alternative taken by many women.

Kara tells us most Congolese are fervent Catholics, escapism for them.

Rich foreign corporations state they do not deal with any suppliers who use children as miners or provide unsafe working conditions. Kara says never in his extensive close up visits to mining areas did he ever see an inspector from these companies. 

Kara describes his conversations with miners, with women left alone after their husbands death, with a teenage boy left crippled for life in a mining accident, with officials who gave him life saving stamp of approvals to visit mines. He describes in detail the huge mines and the work of miners. Millions of trees have been cut for mines.

"The path begins with accountability. The biggest problem faced by the Congo’s artisanal miners is not the gun-toting soldiers, unscrupulous Chinese buyers, exploitative mining cooperatives, or collapsing tunnels. These and other antagonists are but symptoms of a greater menace . The biggest problem faced by the Congo’s artisanal miners is that stakeholders up the chain refuse to accept responsibility for them, even though they all profit in one way or another from their work. Rather than issue vacant statements on
zero-tolerance policies and other hollow PR, corporations should do the one, simple thing that would truly help: treat the artisanal miners as equal employees to the people who work at corporate headquarters. We would not send the children of Cupertino to scrounge for cobalt in toxic pits, so why is it permissible to send the children of the Congo? We would not accept blanket press statements about how those children were being treated without independently verifying it, so why don’t we do it in the Congo? We would not treat ourhometowns like toxic dumping grounds, so why do we allow it in the Congo? If major technology companies, EV manufacturers, and mining companies acknowledged that artisanal miners were an integral part of their cobalt supply chains and treated them with equal humanity as any other employee, most everything that needs to be done to resolve the calamities currently afflicting artisanal miners would be done." From the Epilogue 

He is a British Academy Global Professor and an Associate Professor of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery at Nottingham University. Kara has authored three books on modern slavery and won the Frederick Douglass Book Prize. Kara's first book was adapted into a Hollywood film, Trafficked. A feature film inspired by Cobalt Red is currently in preproduction. He divides his time between the U.K. and the US.

Mel Ulm 


Friday, April 14, 2023

Can You Feel This by Julie Orringer-A Short Story- 2019 -36 Pages

 Can You Feel This by Julie Orringer-A Short Story- 2019 -36 Pages

Having recently viewed the Netflix series Transatlantic, inspired by Julie Orringer's marvelous novel The Flight Portfolio, I was delighted to discover an original short by Orringer was available in the Kindle Unlimited program.

"Rushed into an emergency cesarean section, a woman finds herself in the same hospital where her suicidal mother died. She’s buried the trauma of her mother’s last hours—and also the dread that she might be just as vulnerable to breaking. As the new mother relives one crisis in the midst of another, prize-winning author Julie Orringer turns the joyous event of birth into a harrowing, poignant short story."
From Amazon 

Set in contemporary New York City Orringer perfectly embodied in this story how hidden tragedie
from long ago, the weight of pushed away deaths shape the woman giving birth

Julie Orringer’s Can You Feel This? is part of Inheritance, a collection of five stories about secrets, unspoken desires, and dangerous revelations between loved ones. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single setting.

Julie Orringer is the New York Times bestselling author of The Flight Portfolio, The Invisible Bridge, and How to Breathe Underwater. Winner of the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize, she has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. She lives in Brooklyn.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

The Penitent by Issac Bashevis Singer - 1973

Issac Singer (1902-1991-born Poland) won the Nobel Prize in 1986 for the full body of his work. He is best known to the general public as the author of Yentil, the basis for a very popular movie. Singer's, even though he left Poland in 1935 because of the rise of the Nazis, work is very rooted in the culture in which he was raised. He became an American citizen. Singer died and is buried in Florida. . He indicated his biggest influences as a short story writer were Anton Chekhov and Guy de Maupassant

Harold Bloom's New York Times Review 

Bloom completely trashes The Penitent- 

"The Penitent is a translation of a short novel called ''Der Baal Tshuve'' in Yiddish. Perhaps this title should have been translated as ''The Master of Turning,'' which would have been more literal and also a proper tribute to its distinguished author, who is a master of metamorphoses. But perhaps this book, first published in 1974, ought not to have been translated at all. It is a very unpleasant work, without any redeeming esthetic merit or humane quality. Singer's best book, retroactively worthy of the Nobel Prize he won in 1978, was his ''Collected Stories,'' published last year. ''The Penitent,'' a failed attempt at a Swiftian diatribe against the contemporary world, is his worst book, and yet it does expose limitations that are not Singer's alone, and so it sadly defines much that is uneasy and probably insoluble in the dilemmas of Jewish culture at this time." Harold Bloom-September 25, 1983

After reading Bloom's review I am a bit at a loss. I thought why post on the book if it is totally without merit. Then felt one of my blog goals is to jounalize my reading. 

Bloom says Singer's Collected Stories are worthy of his Nobel Prize 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff - Forthcoming September 2203- 272 Pages

 The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff - Forthcoming September 2203- 272 Pages

The Vaster Wilds is of devastating power about life in America soon after the Jamestown Virginia colony was established. It is set from around 1617 to 1660. It tells of the experiences of a servant girl who escapes the colony into the wilderness.

I found a bit of research on Jamestown helped me 

December 6, 1606 three ships leave England for Virginia- with 107 men. The colony is founded on unoccupied territory with a good harbour 

1619- 90 women and girls are sent as wives and servants

The mythological Disney account of the struggles of the Jamestown colony is part of the hagiographical account of the Origins of America still used by most American history teachers 

As the plot opens a bound servant girl in her teens has just fled from Jamestown, stealing boots from a dead boy killed by smallpox, a knife and a hatchet as well as gloves from her mistress.

"The moon hid itself behind the clouds the wind spat an icy snow at angles. In the tall black wall of the palisade, through a slit too seeming tight for human passage, the girl climbed into the great and terrible wilderness. Over her face she wore a hood drawn low, and she was slight, both bony and childish small, but the famine had stripped her down yet starker, to root and string and fiber and sinew. Even so starved, and blinded by the dark, she was quick. She scrabbled upright , stumbled with her first step, nearly fell, but caught herself and began to run, going fast and low over the frozen ruts of the field and all the stalks of dead corn that had come up in the summer already sooty and fruitless and stunted with blight. Swifter, girl, she told herself, and in their fear and anguish, her legs moved yet faster."

She passes the body of a soldier from the Fort killed by a native. The girl knows someone from the Fort will be hunting her. Her only hope is to run deeper into the vast wilderness. I felt her fear and her growing hungry 

In her thoughts we flash back to her time in England, the terrible crossing. She falls in love aboard ship and loses her virginity. We learn about her mistress and the doomed young girl of whom she cares for.

She has numerous encounters with bears, natives and even a rogue priest.

The Vaster Wilds is a journey into the human cost of the founding of America. It is about profound loneliness and a descent into a near bestiary state.

I was drawn deeply into the story. I cared about the protagonist 

I am currently reading new translations of the Gilgamesh, a 3000 year old epic about a journey through a wilderness full of horror and danger.The Vaster Wilds is part of this ancient tradition 

Lauren Groff is the author of six books of fiction, the most recent the novel MATRIX (September
2021). Her work has won The Story Prize, the ABA Indies’ Choice Award, and France’s Grand
Prix de l’Héroïne, was a three time finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and twice for the Kirkus Prize, and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Prize, the Southern Book Prize,
and the Los Angeles Times Prize. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim
Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and was named one of Granta’s Best
of Young American Novelists. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages. She lives in
Gainesville, Florida. From

Mel Ulm


Thursday, April 6, 2023

The Magician of Lublin by Issac Bashevis Singer - 1960-translated from the Yiddish by Elaine Gottlieb and Josepth Singer- 183 Pages

The Magician of Lublin by Issac Bashevis Singer - 1960-translated from the Yiddish by Elaine Gottlieb and Josepth Singer- 183 Pages

Issac Singer (1902-1991-born Poland) won the Nobel Prize in 1986 for the full body of his work. He is best known to the general public as the author of Yentil, the basis for a very popular movie. Singer's, even though he left Poland in 1935 because of the rise of the Nazis, work is very rooted in the culture in which he was raised. He became an American citizen. Singer died and is buried in Florida. . He indicated his biggest influences as a short story writer were Anton Chekhov and Guy de Maupassan

The plot is set in the mid-1880s in Russian-ruled Poland. The main character Yasha Mazur is a magician from Lublin, who travels around Poland to perform before audiences. He is Jewish, but not very devout, and married to Esther. He has affairs with his assistant Magda, with a young Jewish woman in Piaski named Zeftel and with a middle class Catholic widow in Warsaw named Emilia.

The Magician of Lublin centers on man of dubious morality, a serial philander who scrapes out a living as a Magician, picking locks and doing various tricks. He wants to work in Paris, Rome even America. His agent can not place him. He is loved by his wife and mistresses. He has no children. Warsaw is full of theives, hookers, people starving while others enjoy extremely affluent existences.

He thinks a lot about his religious teachings from his youth but can now see little sense in them. His wife knows he has other women but still has a passion for him. The ending, in which we flash forward three years is an amazing turn.

The Magician of Lublin goes into the entrapment of young women to be sold to brothels in Argentina, theatrical work, the cost of living, the indifference of the rich to the poor, the relationships among various national groups among other things 

It is a an exciting work with numerous cliff hangers. There are near R rated sex scenes 

This book is included in The Kindle Unlimited program along with 23 other Singer works.

I hope to read much more by Singer 

Mel Ulm


Tuesday, April 4, 2023

The Reading Live Review- March 2023-

Column One

1. Ibram X Kendi- USA- first appearance on The Reading Life-DR. IBRAM X. KENDI is a National Book Award-winning author of thirteen books for adults and children, including nine New York Times bestsellers—five of which were #1 New York Times bestsellers. Dr. Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, and the director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. He is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News racial justice contributor. 

2. Yevgana Beloruset- Ukraine-first appearance-Yevgenia Belorusets is a Ukrainian artist, writer, and photographer born in Kyiv in 1980. In her works, she calls attention to the most vulnerable sections of Ukrainian society.

Yevgenia is co-founder of the journal Prostory, member of the interdisciplinary curatorial collective Hudrada, author of the photo series Victories of the Defeated and books Lucky Breaks (International Literature Award by Haus der Kulturen der Welt in 2020), Series of Lectures on the Modern Life of Animals and Anfang des Krieges (Horst Bingel Prize for Literature 2022). Twice her work was presented in the Ukrainian program at the Venice Biennale — in 2015 with Victories of the Defeated and in 2022 with A Wartime Diary. 

3. Margaret Atwood- Canada- featured numerous times

Column Two 

1. Kanoko Okamoto- Japan-first appearance-Kanoko Okamoto was born on March 1, 1889, in the Akasaka district of Tokyo, now Minato-ku. Both her father, who had been a purveyor to the Tokugawa shogunate, and her mother, descended from a famous old family of Kanagawa Prefecture and skilled in the ballad drama known as tokiwazu, were persons of artistic . Her major work is the long novel Shojoruten (The Vicissitudes of Life). On January 31, 1939, on a trip to the Ginza with a young friend, Kanoko Okamoto was stricken by a cerebral hemorrhage as she got off the bus. She died eighteen days later

2. Mendel Mann - Poland - Russia - Paris -first appearance-MANN, MENDEL (Mendl Man ; 1916–1975), Yiddish novelist and painter. Mann was born in Płonsk, Poland. He died in Paris.When his art education in Warsaw was interrupted by the Nazi invasion, he fled eastwards and enlisted in the Red Army, in which he witnessed the siege of Moscow and the occupation of Berlin. After the war he settled in Łodz and published a volume of verse, Di Shtilkayt Mont ("Silence Calls," 1945). Following the Kielce pogrom, he moved to Regensburg in 1946, where he edited a Yiddish dp newspaper. He immigrated to Israel in 1948, where he published Oyfgevakhte Erd ("Awakened Earth," 1953), a collection of stories reflecting the lives of Jewish refugees living in a former Palestinian village. From 1949 he was a co-editor of Di Goldene Keyt. The novel, In a Farvorloztn Dorf ("In an Abandoned Village," 1954), is based on the life of Zionist emigrants to Palestine from Jewish villages in the vicinity of Płonsk. His most outstanding work is a trilogy of novels reflecting his wartime experiences.

3. Oren Schneider- USA- first appearance- author of THE APPRENTICE OF BUCHENWALD THE TRUE STORY OF THE TEENAGE BOY WHO SABOTAGED HITLER’S WAR MACHINE by Oren Schneider- 2023 -destined to be a classic

Column Three

1. Theodora Goss-Hungary to USA- first appearance-Theodora Goss was born in Hungary and spent her childhood in various European countries before her family moved to the United States, where she completed a PhD in English literature. She is the World Fantasy, Locus, and Mythopoeic Award-winning author of the short story and poetry collections In the Forest of Forgetting (2006), Songs for Ophelia (2014), and Snow White Learns Witchcraft (2019), as well as novella The Thorn and the Blossom (2012), debut novel The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (2017), and sequels European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman (2018) and The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl (2019). She has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, and Shirley Jackson Awards, as well as on the Tiptree Award Honor List. Her work has been translated into fifteen languages. She teaches literature and writing at Boston University. Visit her at

2. Kenzaburo Òe- Japan- Nobel Laureate

3. Nikole Hannah-Jones- USA-first appearance- Nikole Hannah-Jones is an award-winning investigative reporter who covers civil rights and racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine and the Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at Howard University where she is the founding director of the Center for Journalism & Democracy. 

Her reporting has earned her the Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur “Genius” Grant, the Knight Award for Public Service, the Peabody Award, two George Polk awards and the National Magazine Award three times. She is a Society of American Historians Fellow and a member of the Academy of Arts 

Column Four

1. Erin Litteken- USA- first appearance-Erin Litteken is a debut novelist with a degree in history and a passion for research. At a young age, she was enthralled by stories of her family’s harrowing experiences in Ukraine before, during and after World War II. Her first historical fiction title, The Memory Keeper of Kyiv, draws on those experiences. She lives in Illinois, USA with her husband and children. From the author's website: I hope to read more of her work soon

2. Issac Bashevis Singer- Poland to USA-Nobel Laureate- Yiddish author- I hope to read many more of his works

3. Yu Miri- Japan- first appearance- YU MIRI is a writer of plays, prose fiction, and essays, with over twenty books to her name. She received Japan’s most prestigious literary award, the Akutagawa Prize. After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima, she began to visit the affected area, hosting a radio show to listen to survivors’ stories. She relocated to Fukushima in 2015 and has opened a bookstore and theater space to continue her cultural work in collaboration with those affected by the disaster. 

4. Daniel Mendelsohn-USA-first appearance-Daniel Mendelsohn is an internationally bestselling author, critic, essayist, and translator. Born in New York City in 1960, he received degrees in Classics from the University of Virginia and Princeton. After completing his Ph.D. he moved to New York City, where he began freelance writing full time; since 1991 he has been a prolific contributor of essays, reviews, and articles to many publications, most frequently The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. He has also been a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure and a columnist for The New York Times Book Review, Harper’s, and New York magazine, where he was the weekly book critic. In February 2019, he was named Editor-at-Large of the New York Review of Books and the Director of the Robert B. Silvers Foundation, a charitable trust that supports writers of nonfiction, essay, and criticism.

Birth Countries of March Authors

1. USA-5
2. Japan -3
3. Poland-2
4. Canada-1
5. Hungry-1
6. Ukraine-1

Four of the 13 authors are deceased, two are Nobel Laureates, 7 appeared for the first time, 7 are women.

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