january 1–15, 2020


  • Eve Babitz, I Used to Be Charming: The Rest of Eve Babitz
  • Albert Cossery, The Jokers, translated by Anna Moschovakis
  • Amara Lakhous, The Prank of the Good Little Virgin of Via Ormea, trans. Anthony Shugaar
  • Lucy Ellmann, Man or Mango? A Lament
  • Muriel Spark, The Public Image
  • Albert Cossery, Laziness in the Fertile Valley, trans. William Goyen
  • Muriel Spark, The Bachelors
  • Muriel Spark, The Ballad of Peckham Rye
  • Norman Lewis, Naples ’44: An Intelligence Officer in the Italian Labyrinth
  • Muriel Spark, The Abbess of Crewe
  • Curzio Malaparte, The Skin, trans. David Moore
  • Muriel Spark, Robinson
  • Andrea Camilleri, Hunting Season, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • Andrea Camilleri, The Sect of Angels, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • Andrea Camilleri, The Sacco Gang, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • Muriel Spark, The Comforters
  • Francesca Marciano, The Other Language


  • The Amazing Johnathan Documentary, directed by Ben Berman
  • Charlie Says, dir. Mary Harron
  • Nocturama, dir. Bertrand Bonello
  • La Vérité (The Truth), dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda
  • Good Time, dir. Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie
  • Hereditary, dir. Ari Aster

december 16–31, 2019


  • Emmanuel Carrère, A Russian Novel, translated by Linda Coverdale
  • Emmanuel Carrère, Limonov, trans. John Lambert
  • Samuel R. Delany, Voyage, Orestes!
  • Curzio Malaparte, Kaputt, trans. Cesare Foligno
  • Robert Musil, Agathe: Or, The Forgotten Sister, trans. Joel Agee
  • Amara Lakhous, Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet, trans. Ann Goldstein
  • Amara Lakhous, Divorce Islamic Style, trans. Ann Goldstein
  • Amara Lakhous, Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio, trans. Ann Goldstein
  • Lucy Ellmann, Sweet Desserts
  • Lucy Ellmann, Varying Degrees of Hopelessness
  • Barbara Bourland, Fake Like Me
  • Jonathan Lethem, As She Climbed Across the Table
  • Jonathan Lethem, Girl in Landscape
  • Emmanuel Carrère, The Adversary, trans. Linda Coverdale


  • “Hans Haacke: All Connected,” New Museum, New York
  • “Carmen Argote: As Above, So Below,” New Museum
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • “A Wonder to Behold: Craftsmanship and the Creation of Babylon’s Ishtar Gate,” Institute for Study of the Ancient World
  • Met Museum


  • The Limey, directed by Steven Soderbergh
  • Uncut Gems, dir. Josh Safdie & Benny Safdie
  • Little Women, dir. Greta Gerwig
  • Blackkklansman, dir. Spike Lee

december 1–15, 2019


  • Robert Dobbin, ed., The Cynic Philosophers: From Diogenes to Julian
  • Augusto de Angelis, The Murdered Banker, translated by Jill Foulston
  • August de Angelis, The Hotel of the Three Roses, trans. Jill Foulston
  • Dean Young, Fall Higher
  • Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion
  • Alice Oswald, Memorial
  • Alice Oswald, A Sleepwalk on the Severn
  • Alice Oswald, Dart
  • Sarah Manguso, 300 Arguments
  • Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary
  • Francis Ponge, Nioque of the Early-Spring, trans. Jonathan Larson
  • Sigrid Nunez, Sempre Susan
  • Carmen Maria Machado, In the Dream House
  • Tim Hannigan, Raffles and the British Invasion of Java
  • Perumal Murugan, Poonachi, or the Story of a Black Goat, trans. K. Kalyan Raman


  • The Secret Life of Plants, directed by Walon Green
  • Sign O’ The Times, dir. Prince & Albert Magnoli
  • General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait, dir. Barbet Schroeder
  • L’Avocat de la terreur (Terror’s Advocate), dir. Barbet Schroeder

november 16–30, 2019


  • Maya Jasanoff, The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World
  • Joseph Conrad, The Secret Sharer
  • Yoko Ogawa, The Memory Police, trans. Stephen Snyder
  • Anne Boyer, The Undying: A Meditation on Modern Illness
  • Afrizal Malna, Document Shredding Machine, trans. Daniel Owen
  • Julián Herbert, The House of the Pain of Others: Chronicle of a Small Genocide, trans. Christina MacSweeney
  • Piero Chiara, The Disappearance of Signora Giulia, trans. Jill Foulston
  • James Lever, Me Cheeta
  • Gabriele Tergit, Käsebier Takes Berlin, tran. Sophie Duvernoy
  • Friedrich Dürrenmatt, The Judge and His Hangman, trans. Joel Agee
  • Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Suspicion, trans. Joel Agee
  • Rafael Bernal, The Mongolian Conspiracy, trans. Katherine Silver
  • César Aira, Birthday, trans. Chris Andrews


  • The Lover, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud

november 1–15, 2019


  • Dean Young, Elegy on Toy Piano
  • Iris Origo, The Merchant of Prato: Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City
  • Percival Everett, Percival Everett by Virgil Russell
  • Chloe Aridjis, Asunder
  • Andrea Camilleri, The Revolution of the Moon, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • Italo Svevo, A Life, trans. Archibald Colquhoun


  • Et Dieu . . . créa la femme (And God Created Woman), dir. Roger Vadim
  • Gremlins 2: The New Batch, dir. Joe Dante
  • High Life, dir. Claire Denis
  • Game Night, dir. John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein

october 16–31, 2019


  • Erich Auerbach, Dante: Poet of the Secular World, translated by Ralph Manheim
  • Tim Parks, Medici Money: Banking Metaphysics and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence
  • Andrea Camilleri, The Pyramid of Mud, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • Andrea Camilleri, The Overnight Kidnapper, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • August Kleinzahler, The Strange Hours Travelers Keep
  • August Kleinzahler, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City
  • Andrea Camilleri, The Other End of the Line, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • Victor Segalen, René Leys, trans. J. A. Underwood
  • Yuko Tsushima, Territory of Light, trans. Geraldine Harcourt
  • Julián Herbert, Tomb Song, trans. Christina MacSweeney
  • Primo Levi, The Magic Paint, trans. Ann Goldstein, Alessandra Batagli & Jenny McPhee
  • Charles Portis, Gringos
  • Iris Murdoch, The Time of the Angels


  • 하녀 (The Housemaid), directed by Kim Ki-young
  • 1987: Untracing the Conspiracy, dir. Jason Soo
  • The River, dir. Jean Renoir
  • Canoa: memoria de un hecho vergonzoso (Canoa: A Shameful Memory), dir. Felipe Cazals
  • The Lair of the White Worm, dir. Ken Russell
  • Les Créatures, dir. Agnes Varda
  • Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother), dir. Pedro Almodóvar
  • Hable con ella (Talk to Her), dir. Pedro Almodóvar
  • Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory), dir. Pedro Almodóvar
  • Die Mauer (The Wall), dir. Jürgen Böttcher

october 1–15, 2019


  • Satyajit Ray, The Collected Short Stories, translated by Gopa Majumdar et al.
  • Andrea Camilleri, Game of Mirrors, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • Carolyn Forché, What You Have Heard Is True
  • Pietro Aretino, The Secret Life of Wives, trans. Andrew Brown
  • Giovanni della Casa, Galateo, or the Rules of Polite Behavior, trans. M. F. Rusnak
  • Andrea Camilleri, A Beam of Light, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • Marie Darrieussecq, Pig Tales, trans. Linda Coverdale
  • Victor Segalen, Essay on Exoticism: An Aesthetics of Diversity, trans. Yaël Rachel Schlick
  • Tom O’Neill with Dan Piepenbring, Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties
  • Andrea Camilleri, A Voice in the Night, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • Andrea Camilleri, A Nest of Vipers, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • Marie Darrieussecq, My Phantom Husband, trans. Helen Stevenson


  • Ad Astra, directed by James Gray
  • High Flying Bird, dir. Steven Soderbergh
  • 마더 (Mother), dir. Bong Joon-ho
  • Vom Bauen der Zukunft – 100 Jahre Bauhaus (Bauhaus Spirit: 100 Years of Bauhaus), dir. Niels Bolbrinker & Thomas Tielsch

two notes towards “in the penal colony”

“Let no one praise Perillus, crueler than the tyrant Phalaris, for whom he built a bull, promising him that a man locked inside it would bellow when a fire was lit beneath it, and who was the first to test on himself this torture as the fruit of a cruelty more just than his. To such an extent had he distorted a most noble art, destined to represent gods and men. Thus many of his workers had labored to build an instrument of torture! Actually, his works are preserved for only one reason: so that whoever sees them will hate the hands of their creators.”

(Pliny, Natural History, 37.89, quoted in Primo Levi, “Hatching the Cobra,” p. 172 in The Mirror Maker, trans. Raymond Rosenthal.)


“Catherine [the Great] made this point, as only she could, in a conversation with Denis Diderot, the editor of the Encyclopédie and the Enlightenment’s most original and radical thinker. ‘While you write on unfeeling paper,’ she told the philosophe, ‘I write on human skin, which is sensitive to the slightest touch.’ ”

(Robert Zaretsky, “ ‘I Write on Human Skin’: Catherine the Great and the Rule of Law,” https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/write-human-skin-catherine-great-rule-law/)

september 16–30, 2019


  • Andrea Camilleri, The Potter’s Field, translated by Stephen Sartarelli
  • Andrea Camilleri, The Age of Doubt, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • Yiyun Lee, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life
  • Andrea Camilleri, Montalbano’s First Case, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • David Grann, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
  • Evan S. Connell, A Long Desire
  • Perumal Murugan, One Part Woman, trans. Aniruddhan Vasudevan
  • Sven Lindqvist, The Skull Measurer’s Mistake, trans. Joan Tate
  • Andrea Camilleri, The Dance of the Seagull, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • Andrea Camilleri, Treasure Hunt, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • Dava Sobel, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
  • Andrea Camilleri, Angelica’s Smile, trans. Stephen Sartarelli
  • Sven Lindqvist, The Myth of Wu Tao-Tzu, trans. Joan Tate
  • Eliot Weinberger, The Ghosts of Birds: Essays
  • L. S. Asekoff, North Star
  • Anne Boyer, Garments Against Women
  • Giovanni della Casa, Galateo, trans. R. S. Pine-Coffin
  • Giovanni Boccaccio, Life of Dante, trans. J. G. Nichols
  • Ugo Foscolo, Sepulchres, trans. J. G. Nichols


  • The Lost City of Z, directed by James Gray
  • Midsommar, dir. Ari Aster
  • Serial Mom, dir. John Waters

god, a discrete looter

“Indeed, of all the dreams that have ever been told to me – and I am not a willing audience – I think that only one was worth the hearing. It was a dream which came to that good gentleman of Rome, Flaminio Tomarozzo, who was by no means uninstructed or unimaginative, but was an enlightened man of shrewd intelligence. He dreamed that he was seated in the house of one of his neighbours, a rich chemist. After he had been there a little while, for some reason or other the mob began to riot and set about looting everything. They seized the pills and potions, some taking one thing and some another, and swallowed them there and then, so that in a short time there was not a phial or a jar, a beaker or a bowl, that was not drained dry. Only one little flask, full of a clear liquid, remained, and though many of the people put it to their noses none would dare to taste it. Presently there came upon the scene an old man of great stature and venerable appearance. He looked around gravely at the chemist’s bottles and gallipots, which were empty or spilled and for the most part broken, until his eye fell upon the small flask which I have mentioned. He lifted it to his lips and at once drank all the liquid until not a drop remained. Then he went out of the house just as all the others had done.

Flaminio was greatly intrigued by this and turning to the chemist asked ‘Master chemist, who is this man and why did he drink all the liquid in the flask with such relish after all the others had refused it?’ ‘My friend’, replied the chemist, ‘that was Almighty God. The water which, as you saw, He alone drank and everyone else rejected was discretion, which men will not taste at any price, as perhaps you are aware.’ ”

(Giovanni della Casa, Galateo, translated by R. S. Pine-Coffin, chapter 12 (“The reprehensible habit of telling one’s dreams”), pp. 43–44.)