Arts + Culture

Hisham Matar’s The Return: Touching Bottom in an Ocean of Grief

This memoir of returning to Libya after the fall of Gaddafi will absolutely break your heart. It is also really really good. Read it.

“There are times when my father’s absence is as heavy as a child sitting on my chest. Other times I can barely recall the exact features of his face and must bring out the photographs I keep in an old envelope in the drawer of my bedside table. There has not been a day since his sudden and mysterious vanishing that I have not been searching for him, looking in the most unlikely places. Everything and everyone, existence itself, has become an evocation, a possibility for resemblance.” —The Return

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Arts + Culture

"The Queue" is a Dystopian Novel About Egypt After the Revolution

While Basma Abdel Aziz's new work starts with a bullet to the gut it is also relevant to those of us stuck on hold with an insurance agent.

When describing Basma Abdel Aziz’s novel, The Queue (translated by Elisabeth Jaquette), it’s easy to compare her to George Orwell and Franz Kafka or to use terms like “satire” and “dystopia.” And certainly, these shoes fit. But these kinds of descriptions are also a kind of trap: we know these words too well, and putting a familiar label on this novel makes it seem too familiar, giving readers permission to know what they’ll find before they start writing.

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