paper trail

Mark Bittman announces departure from New York Times

Mark Bittman

How to Cook Everything author Mark Bittman announced on Saturday that he’s leaving the New York Times, where he has been a food columnist for almost five years. The author, whose work for the Times has helped Americans eat food that is better for their health and for the environment, says that he will be taking “a central role in a year-old food company, to do what I’ve been writing about these many years: to make it easier for people to eat more plants.” He does not reveal the name of his new employer.

In a new interview, novelist and essayist Aleksandar Hemon, who was visiting the US when his native Sarajevo erupted in war in 1992, reflects on the current refugee crisis in Europe: “There are so many instances in history where Europe, and other countries too, shut their doors to refugees, somehow hoping that they would die or vanish. The saddest thing is that the tragedy of people having to risk their lives, and losing their lives crossing the sea or half of Europe, is seen as a desire to steal from us what we have, this wonderful privilege of living in a democracy and having a stable life. And that we must protect it from them, and the only danger for us is their coming—it’s another variation of the zombie fantasy.”

In the Times, historian Timothy Snyder, whose most recent book is Black Earth, notes that the Holocaust “may seem a distant horror whose lessons have already been learned,” but warns that “contemporary environmental stresses could encourage new variations on Hitler’s ideas, especially in countries anxious about feeding their growing populations or maintaining a rising standard of living.”

Justin Taylor has written an obsessive and compelling analysis of Sam Lipsyte’s prose, dwelling on two short stories and their general themes, their syntax, and the particular sounds of their words.

At Bookforum, Gene Seymour reviews Margo Jefferson’s new memoir, Negroland, alongside Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me. “Coates’s book and Jefferson’s overlap most chillingly in the knowledge of a certain kind of death awaiting African Americans seeking release from the constricting demands of Difference.”