Category Literature

Hitler’s Suicide and New Research on Nazi Drug Use

On April 30, 1945, as Soviet troops closed in on the city, Adolf Hitler shot himself in a Berlin bunker. In the years since, the Nazi dictator’s suicide has been attributed to various factors: Germany’s looming defeat; the harsh treatment he knew he would receive at the hands of his Soviet captors; his fear of […]

Named and Shamed: Zadie Smith’s ‘Swing Time’ and an Author’s Power to Define the Past

“Elegance attracted me,” Zadie Smith’s unnamed narrator says in her new novel, Swing Time. “I liked the way it hid pain.” By that measure, she would approve of her own artfully constructed narrative. Flickering between the distant and more recent past, she chronicles her relationships with three women: Her activist-turned-backbench MP mother; her popstar-philanthropist boss, […]

Author Cara Hoffman Talks about the War on Terror and the War Women Face at Home

In Cara Hoffman’s novel Be Safe I Love You, Lauren Clay, a young combat veteran from the Iraq War, returns home to her working class roots in small-town upstate New York. Lauren’s struggles to readjust to civilian life ultimately manifest in full-blown PTSD, and Hoffman’s prose provides a lyrical, harrowing reminder of war’s rippling repercussions. But […]

A Former Combat Advisor Is Exploring the War on Terror through the Eyes of a Young Afghani

Elliot Ackerman served as a Marine infantry and special forces officer in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2011, at the height of the War on Terror. In Afghanistan, he also worked as a combat advisor to an Afghan battalion tasked with capturing senior figures in the Taliban. Ackerman has parlayed his experiences into a remarkable debut novel, Green […]

An Afghan War Vet Adopts the Voice of an Afghan Boy in His Heartbreaking First Novel, Green on Blue

Elliot Ackerman is a decorated veteran of the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan, and now the debut author of a remarkable novel, Green on Blue, out February 17 from Scribner. Green on Blue is narrated by a Pashtun teenager named Aziz, who describes the state of his country as such: “In Pashto, [our] type of war […]

We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: The Joan Didion Documentary’s Pioneering Approach to Collaborative Filmmaking

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” Joan Didion writes to open one of her many seminal essays, “The White Album.” “We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social and moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices. We live […]

Impossible to Forget: A Review of Bret Anthony Johnston’s Remember Me Like This

In John Buchan’s memoir, Pilgrim’s Way, he wrote of his friend Raymond Asquith: “He disliked emotion, not because he felt lightly, but because he felt deeply.” Though set far from Buchan’s Edwardian Britain, in the dusty, down and out town of Southport, Texas, that sentiment is the same distinctive scaffolding of Bret Anthony Johnson’s arresting new novel Remember […]