Bookforum Is Back!

­Edvard Munch, Todeskuss (The Kiss of Death), 1899, lithograph, 173⁄4 x 241⁄2".
­Edvard Munch, Todeskuss (The Kiss of Death), 1899, lithograph, 173⁄4 x 241⁄2".

BOOKFORUM IS BACK. We’ve been on hiatus since December 2022, and the Summer 2023 edition is the first issue produced in conjunction with our new publishing partner, The Nation, a venerable magazine committed to fiercely independent journalism. Our mission is to continue the conversation where we left off, publishing essays by writers who are deeply engaged with books and contemporary culture.

Since 1994, Bookforum has staked out its own territory, inviting authors to take on—with critical acuity and personality—fiction, art, literary theory, philosophy, politics, and more. Over the years, we have encouraged new writers to find their voices and given established writers room to stretch out. We trust them to take chances, and the results—for our writers, readers, and ourselves—have been surprising and rewarding.

When the magazine shuttered late last year, there was an outpouring of grief. Major publications covered the closure and placed it in the context of increasing media consolidation, cutbacks, layoffs, and dire signs for the business of both literature and journalism. And what we do is hard to monetize. Each essay emerges out of an intensive process, and it’s difficult to make a financial case for the time, dedication, and thoroughness we ask of our contributors. But we think the rewards are significant and the results worthwhile. Not just as discrete pieces of thought but as a way of getting a feel for the larger culture as expressed through its most durable containers for ideas: books. We don’t think it’s an accident that death and survival come up in multiple articles in this issue. But mourning, thinking, plotting, and disagreeing can be joyful, too. As a reader, you’re part of the community, and we are extremely grateful that you’re here.

We weren’t sure we’d ever be able to make this magazine again, and the essays reflect our own preoccupations with death, rebirth, money, belonging, and the place of art in society. There’s an essay that begins with the writer about to hit a deer with her car. There’s one about trauma and justice, and another by an author who loves the Beach Boys so much that it drives her a little nuts. We wanted to find out whatever happened to the systems novel, how rich people write about their own privilege, and why Lorrie Moore’s new novel features a Weekend at Bernie’s scenario with a man and his dead ex-girlfriend on a road trip. (Freud pops up all over this Bookforum.) We cover the demise of crypto, the hubris of the UFC, Annie Ernaux’s philosophy of la petite mort, and Christina Sharpe’s notes on loss. Out in the Hamptons, Emma Cline’s grifter protagonist tries to stay afloat, a situation represented by our cover painting, by Pavlina Alea. 

Whether we sink or swim depends in large part on you. We hope you will be enlightened and entertained as our writers figure things out on the page and invite you along. Please help us continue our mission by subscribing and spreading the word.­