Omari Weekes

  • New York Is Now

    AS THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT took center stage in newspapers and magazines across the United States, the people of Harlem were, among many things, dealing with a rat problem. The vermin were biting children and contaminating pantries, but they were also a striking symptom of a larger issue: Harlem was facing a housing crisis. Though public housing had been erected, it was both scarce and disgusting. The exuberance that characterized the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s seemed to be in decline as economic insecurity, inadequate sanitation, dreadful landlords, and neglected public space tarnished

  • interviews July 15, 2021

    Pay Attention to the Skirmish

    In Elias Rodriques’s new novel, All the Water I’ve Seen Is Running, the protagonist, Daniel, returns to his childhood home in North Florida from New York after a high school friend dies in a drunk-driving accident. Back in the town of Palm Coast, Daniel reunites with a cast of old associates including Desmond and Twig—two friends from the track team—and contemplates confronting the person who could be responsible for his friend’s crash. A mediation on grief, memory, family history, and homecoming, the book is also an exploration of how race, class, and queerness affect these time-honored themes.

  • Commit to the Bit

    HUMOR CAN BE A RISKY BUSINESS. For the comic, professional or not, comedy evinces parts of the self that may not otherwise see outward expression. For the reader, the line between mirth and madness can be thin. In The Republic, Plato, perhaps history’s foremost derider of laughter, reasons that elites must refrain from laughing because it signals a loss of control, a condition that can be exploited by the masses. Comedy must be left to the marginalized—“slaves and hired aliens,” as he puts it in The Laws—because someone needs to participate in the ridiculous in order for the serious to make