All posts by LARB Blog

11-30-china-blog

Babies, Bylines, and Life in Smoggy Cities: An Interview with Pallavi Aiyar

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom

I’ve been a fan of Pallavi Aiyar’s writing since 2008.  Back then, she was based in Beijing, reporting for the Hindu as its first Mandarin-speaking correspondent, and had just published her debut book, Smoke and Mirrors: An Experience of China, a prizewinning work that received many positive reviews — including one that I wrote for Foreign Policy. I have continued to read her regularly since she has moved on from China to first Brussels, then Jakarta, and now Tokyo, publishing a novel and several new non-fiction books along the way.  I managed to catch up by email recently with the peripatetic and prolific Pallavi, who was incidentally among the first journalists that China Beat interviewed after that precursor to this blog was launched in 2008, and asked her to tell us more about her most recent books, Babies and Bylines and Choked, both 2016 publications.        Continue reading

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Coastal Elite Elegy

By Joe Donnelly

Not ignorance, but ignorance of ignorance, is the death of knowledge.
-Alfred North Whitehead

Of the many forensic narratives that have been stitched together to try and shape the potentially-nightmarish November 8 election results into some kind of cloth of understanding, one in particular has approached one-size-fits-all: the Rustbelt pastoral. It feels like I’ve read dozens of these instant anthropologies in books, magazine and newspapers over the past year or so, and they just keep coming. Most are handwringing, liberal guilt trips and almost all follow the same schematic: a righteous scribe from one of the coasts ventures into the heartland, gains a keener sense of the region’s economic and psychic wounds and then bundles it into a sympathetic homily that’s meant to explain, well, everything. Continue reading

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Travel Is Living: How Airbnb Ingeniously Markets to Korea

By Colin Marshall

Stuff Koreans Like, a short-lived imitator of the mid-2000s satirical blog Stuff White People Like, only took ten posts to get to travel essay books. “Usually set in foreign cities (mostly New York or Paris),” writes its author, “they feature soft-focus photographs of café facades and interiors, coupled with inane text with no depth or historic/sociological insight into the destination being essayed about, just a lot of ‘Ooh this café was so pretty and its espresso so delicious. Ooh here’s another pretty café and its hot chocolate was so sweet.’” A tough assessment, but in its way a fair one: I come across dozens of (admittedly always well-designed) volumes that more or less fit that description whenever I browse the filled-to-bursting travel shelves at any of the bookstores here in Seoul. Continue reading

Cher Vincent and James T. Green of "Open Ended Project" from the Postloudness Collective

On the Need for Queer Podcasts

By Hannah Harris Green

At its worst, public radio seems like a coterie of entirely heterosexual white reporters who assume their audience is also straight and white, and any content that features people who are queer, or people who are not white, is framed as a translation of a tragedy or an oddity for the anonymous vanilla mass of listeners. Peter Bresnan, a gay audio producer who I met at the Third Coast International Audio Festival in Chicago this month, says he’s tired of the media’s two typical gay narratives: “Either being gay is the tragedy in a story that ends in death or heartbreak, or the story’s about a gay person, and ‘gay’ is sort of their one and only characteristic. A gay person rather than a person who’s gay.” Continue reading

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Still Life: on Madeleine Bourdouxhe’s La Femme De Gilles

By Amina Cain

I had a difficult time, while reading Madeleine Bourdouxhe’s La Femme de Gilles, separating it from the recent events in U.S. politics. A man who has bragged about sexually assaulting women has won the presidency over the woman who would have been our first female president. Originally published in 1937 by Éditions Gallimard in Paris, and reissued this fall through Melville House as part of their Neversink Library series, it is not fair to Bourdouxhe to bring today’s politics into my reading of La Femme de Gilles. And yet, she might have understood. Friends with Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, Bourdouxhe was a member of the Resistance in France and Belgium, and is known to have worked with surrealist artist Paul Éluard to sneak political leaflets from Paris into Brussels. In the 1940s, when the Nazis took over Gallimard, Bourdouxhe cut ties, never publishing with them again. Continue reading

Authority of Law Statue

President-Elect Trump, the Federal Judiciary, and Thanksgiving

By Carl Tobias

Last Friday, Donald Trump, thousands of Trump University students, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that they had settled three long running cases alleging that the school had defrauded many students. The lawsuits’ settlement resulted substantially from concerted efforts by Southern District of California Judge Gonsalvo Curiel. The jurist persistently moved toward resolution one case, which he had scheduled for trial next Monday while suggesting that the parties consider a settlement. At Thanksgiving, Mr. Trump and millions of Americans should give thanks for the dedicated service rendered by Judge Curiel and hundreds of federal judges, who assiduously labor every day to deliver justice. Continue reading