Public Books
June 28, 2012 1:56 PM   Subscribe

Public Books
A curated monthly review devoted to spirited debate about books and the arts, created by and for a transnational community of writers, artists, and activists. Inaugural contributors include Tobias Kelly, Bruce Robbins, Lawrence Weschler (interviewing Errol Morris), Laura Norén, David Henkin, Adam Morris, and Sharon Marcus. Brought to you by the editors of Public Culture and NYU's Institute for Public Knowledge.


Public Books is an online multimedia site affiliated with the journal Public Culture. Like that journal, Public Books supports a transnational community of emerging and established intellectuals, writers, and artists, committed to rigorous public debate about works and ideas that deserve timely, intensive discussion. We aim to be cutting edge and to take a long view — to challenge what we think about an issue in the present, how we have thought about it in the past, and how we might approach it in the future.

We live in an era when new publics and new publishing platforms are revolutionizing the book form, changing how we read, speeding up the pace at which ideas circulate, and facilitating greater contact between the life of the mind and life in the world. As a twenty-first-century review, Public Books cannot confine itself to books: ecumenical and experimental, we explore works in many media, over time and across diverse global settings. At the same time, we embrace qualities associated with books, and increasingly rare in an era of sound bites: attention to craft; extended reflection and analysis; robust, original research. Rather than briskly give a thumbs up or thumbs down, our reviewers situate books in a nuanced political, cultural, and historical landscape. Reading a Public Books review is meant to feel like sitting in on a great seminar for which any single offering represents but one text on an ambitiously constructed syllabus.

What does Public Books review? Curated rather than comprehensive, each month we aim to discuss a small number of adventurous nonfiction and fiction offerings that broaden our vision of what public engagement is and can be. This means reviewing a global selection of serious nonfiction and literary fiction alongside memoirs, bestsellers, genre fiction, young adult and children’s fiction, comic books and graphic novels, as well as ethnographies, films, art exhibits, performances, and more. We review work already in the public eye alongside work that is not receiving prominent coverage. We resuscitate significant but forgotten publications of the past that speak to the present. And we feature multilingual reviewers in multiple sites who take us beyond the boundaries of Anglophone literature to review material from all over the world, including books not yet translated into English.

Public Books publishes online in order to take advantage of the Internet’s ability to move quickly across borders, to promote interaction among readers and writers, and to combine word, image, and sound. Our online format allows us to give important new books the critical attention they deserve in a timely manner. Along with book reviews, we publish interviews and conversations with authors and artists; field notes from ethnographic projects; snapshots from literary scenes around the world; updates from conferences, book festivals, and exhibits; and excerpts from work published exclusively in Public Culture.


Tobias Kelly
The Janus Face of Conscience

Bruce Robbins
Realism With Benefits: Of Zombies and Commuters

Lawrence Weschler
Errol Morris, Forensic Epistemologist

Laura Norén
Rhythms of Risk: The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Silicon Alley

David Henkin
Dollars and Sex

James E. Young, Rebecca L. Walkowitz, Nadia Abu el-Haj, and Bruce Robbins
Virtual Roundtable on Amy Waldman's The Submission

Adam Morris
Recycling Literary Culture: A Conversation with Lucía Rosa

Zenia Kish
A New Climate Politics

Keri Walsh
A Conversation with Ellis Avery

Jonathan Levy
The Rise of Finance

Sharon Marcus
The Euphoria of Influence: Jeffrey Eugenides's The Marriage Plot
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