Ilana Masad

When I first googled the term "Malabar Brodeur," what came up was not, as I'd expected, her many New York Times columns or cookbooks, but rather a marriage announcement from March 17, 1974:

In the second episode of 1619, journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones' New York Times-produced podcast, she interviews sociologist Matthew Desmond about the ways in which the institution of slavery in the United States both drove and was driven by economic concerns.

Stieg Larsson is most widely known in the U.S. as the author of the Millennium series. But long before writing his thrillers, including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which were published posthumously, Larsson was a journalist, an independent researcher and an activist seeking to expose the danger of white-nationalist, right-wing extremist, and neo-Nazi groups in Sweden.

Many of the allegations of sexual assault and rape that received widespread media coverage in the past few years have involved men in positions of power — producers, high-powered comedians, America's one-time favorite TV dad — accused of coercing, pressuring, or outright assaulting women who were beholden to them in some way.

I don't remember when I first heard the false narrative according to which Jewish people murder Christian children and use their blood to bake matzo — but it always registered with me as a bit of a joke. Ridiculous, I thought. Surely no one could have ever believed that, not really.

More than 1 in 5 people living in the U.S. has a disability, making it the largest minority group in the country.

When you're a young adult living in an expensive major metropolitan area, going out to eat is both the joy and the bane of your existence. A joy, because there's a 95% chance your kitchen is tiny or your roommates are using it or there has been no time to pick up groceries in between your long commutes and multiple jobs (or all of the above). A bane, because everything is so damned expensive, no one has enough money and there's always that friend who insists on splitting the bill in half even though they ordered alcohol and a far more expensive dish than you did.

Plague, virus, and zombie apocalypse narratives tend to share a few common threads: Often, humanity brings such terrors upon itself; usually, survivors or those with immunity come together in ragtag groups and attempt to find a cure and/or fight their way through to where the other healthy people are; and, almost always, humanity survives — perhaps in drastically reduced numbers, sans modern technology — and must learn to rebuild itself anew.

Karen Abbott's new historical true-crime book, The Ghosts of Eden Park, doesn't claim to center on Prohibition. In fact, it tries to keep to the main characters of its subtitle: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America.

But without that law, the crimes explored in the text wouldn't have occurred — making it feel fittingly haunted, much like a novel whose scenery is a central character (say, London in Charles Dickens' Bleak House).

An ex-pastor, an alcoholic, and an atheist walks into a bar ... No, that's not a typo in the verb conjugation; Mark Haines is all three of these things, and rather than turning into a terrible, corny joke, he emerges as an empathetic, deeply complex, and fiercely self-critical protagonist and narrator in Patrick Coleman's debut novel, The Churchgoer.

Audacity in the face of great odds is a mesmerizing thing to watch. It is the kind of performance that ambitious women have always had to put on in their quest to achieve their dreams — just think of superstars like Janelle Monáe, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and others, all of whom project a confidence and strength onstage and in their work to such an extent that it's easy to forget that they are human beings with complex inner lives, insecurities, moments of weakness or doubt or shame. Fame discourages us from looking at icons as people, as if doing so will make them lose their power.

When I try to recall what mourning feels like — the immediate aftermath of a death, I mean, the days and weeks, and months that follow — I can only grasp the edges of memories. Grief can be a kind of deadening, a latching onto the past in order to fill in the gaps left by the person who has died or exited our lives. Yet life goes on, no matter how absent from it a mourner may feel. It's in this precarious emotional space that Kristen Arnett's debut novel, Mostly Dead Things, is set.

I have a theory. We, consumers of media in a capitalist, money-obsessed country, love a good fraudster. There's some compelling evidence, too.

It's been a minute since I've read a book whose narrator I didn't like at first. Maybe it's because some part of me, the perfectionist hungry to be loved and eager to be accepted, shies away from protagonists who don't care about such things. Maybe I just haven't been reading many narratives told in first person recently. Probably, it's a mix of both.

It's fitting that Lindsey Drager's third novel, The Archive of Alternate Endings, comes out so soon after Dr. Katie Bouman and her team took the first photograph of a black hole. After all, a black hole is the opposite of a story: The black hole pulls matter into it without letting it escape, effectively making it disappear, while a story can continue to radiate meaning and matter into the world long after it is first told — as long as there's someone left to tell it.

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