Sophie Pinkham

  • A Beginner’s Guide to End Times

    “UTOPIA HAS SUDDENLY changed camp,” write Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens in How Everything Can Collapse: A Manual for Our Times, just out in an English translation by Andrew Brown. “Today, the utopian is whoever believes that everything can just keep going as before.” In 2015, when the book was first published in France, such a statement might have sounded alarmist. In 2020, Collapse feels positively prophetic. Things have not kept going as before, and it seems increasingly doubtful that they ever will again.

    That doesn’t mean that these are end times. Servigne and Stevens argue that the

  • Pure Imagination

    The fiction of Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, one of Russia's most celebrated living writers, can be divided into two categories. Her realistic work deals mostly with the lives of Soviet women, presenting a picture bleak enough that the stories were unpublishable in the USSR. In the US, Petrushevskaya is better known for the surreal, dystopian stories she describes as "real fairy tales." Yet despite their fantastical elements, these stories, too, are grounded in Soviet reality: Their characters are preoccupied, as were citizens under Stalin, with food, housing, and violent death.


  • Eastern Promises

    The French writer Emmanuel Carrère wrote several novels before finding his home in the more ambiguous genre of novelistic nonfiction. His work often explores the perils of self-invention and the fraught relationship between fact and fiction. The Adversary (2000), for example, tells the story of a mediocre man who was so desperate to please that he created a fictitious life for himself. When his lies started to unravel, he killed his family so they wouldn’t be disappointed in him. Eduard Limonov, the subject of Carrère’s newly translated “pseudo-biography,” Limonov, is a different kind of