Writing about the Last Trump by Susan Eilenberg, Colin Burrow, Mary-Kay Wilmers, John Banville, Roy Porter, Marina Warner, Christopher Ricks and Alan Bennett.


At the Temple

Long Ling

Onthe evening of the fifteenth day of the seventh month, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, the gates of hell open, disgorging spirits to roam the earth for one night. It’s celebrated as the Zhongyuan (‘Hungry Ghost’) Festival. Last year hell had more inhabitants than usual, as was evident from the many small fires burning on the pavement of Zhuankou Street in...


If we had a real choice

Madeleine Schwartz

Does​ Sophie Mackintosh believe we would be better off in a world without men? When her first novel, The Water Cure, came out several months after the height of the #MeToo movement, a number of reviews focused on the idea of ‘toxic masculinity’ made real. On a remote island, or what they think is a remote island, three sisters – Grace, Lia and Sky – have been helping...


Goodbye Europe

Perry Anderson

The masses who voted for Brexit believed they were striking a blow at Brussels and the neoliberalism under which they had suffered for a quarter of a century. In reality, that neoliberalism – harsher than anything on the Continent – was British in origin, and could be overthrown without any of the instant penalties that would have been incurred if the UK had been a loyal member of the EMU. As for those who voted against Brexit, their warnings of disaster were for all immediate purposes irrelevant. In their different ways, the two sides in the referendum battle shared the same illusion: in the world at large, defeat for their position would mean a loss of standing for Britain that was bound to be fatal to its prosperity. Neither of them paid the slightest attention to the obvious fact that (if we exclude toy-states like Liechtenstein, Monaco or Luxembourg) the two richest countries in Europe, with the most advanced welfare systems, do not belong to the EU: Switzerland and Norway.


Supreme Court Biases

Randall Kennedy

TheSupreme Court of the United States settles disputes between the Congress, the presidency and the judiciary, determines the meaning of federal statutes, allocates authority between states and the federal government, and decides whether governments, state and federal, have encroached on rights in violation of the federal constitution, the supreme law of the land. It is the court which...



Colin Burrow

‘What if?’ is the question all fiction asks. Oedipus Rex: ‘What if someone unknowingly killed his father and married his mother?’ Emma: ‘What if someone accidentally encouraged her friend to fall in love with the man she didn’t know she loved herself?’ Science fiction generally deals in larger ‘what ifs?’ about the underlying rules that...


Among the Oil-Riggers

Andrew O’Hagan

Ionceasked a high-up man in British Rail if he could name the most frightening train journey in the UK. He didn’t hesitate. ‘The last train from Aberdeen to Glasgow on a Friday night,’ he said, before adding, with some emphasis, ‘via Dundee.’ In the heyday of the oil boom, many oil-rig workers, heading home after two weeks ‘on’, would pitch up for...


News from No One

Jane Miller

I’ve​ had several official letters recently (including two in one week) telling me to look out because I’m a ‘clinically extremely vulnerable person’. They’re signed by ‘Matt’, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Another government minister, Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, signs them too,...

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