Ryan Healey

  • culture January 10, 2013

    Going to the Dogs by Erich Kästner

    It might take a few hermeneutic gymnastics to spot hipsters moodily haunting Western literature, in soliloquy and idleness. But consider the aristocrat’s ennui that seeps from Hamlet downward, to Wordsworth, Flaubert, all the golden Russians, Salinger, Franzen...

    It might take a few hermeneutic gymnastics to spot hipsters moodily haunting Western literature, in soliloquy and idleness. But “hipster” is a pliant enough term that you can apply it to a number of disaffected young literary characters, straddling social strata in either good or bad faith. Consider the aristocrat’s ennui that seeps from Hamlet downward, to Wordsworth, Flaubert, all the golden Russians, Salinger, Franzen. These types usually arise in youth and fortune, squander both, and go belly-up when middle-age or financial realities reassert themselves. Weimar Republic hipsters have recently

  • culture April 26, 2012

    Divorce Islamic Style by Amara Lakhous

    Amara Lakhous's novels portray the subtleties of immigrant lives—particularly those of Africans who have reached contemporary Rome. He is a novelist of culture clash, and his latest, Divorce Islamic Style, follows a Muslim woman whose marriage is in jeopardy, a fact that she regards with a combination of anticipation and dread.

    If the Strait of Sicily is something of a Styx—on one side a new throng constantly collecting for departure—then its Charon is a flotilla of rusty fishing boats tagged in Arabic script. In the past year, upwards to 54,000 migrants fled North Africa by sea to pitch tents on the rockbound coast of one sleepy island in Italian territory—Lampedusa, permanent population 6,337. The Italian Interior Minister has announced a state of humanitarian emergency for what former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi once called a “human tsunami.” Qaddafi was reported to have personally ordered some of the flood,