From the blog

The algorithm is watching you

Eyal Weizman

19 February 2020

The officer at the US embassy informed me that my authorisation to travel had been revoked because the ‘algorithm’ had identified a security threat. He said he did not know what had triggered the algorithm but suggested that it could be something I was involved in, people I am or was in contact with, places to which I had travelled (had I recently been in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, or Somalia or met their nationals?), hotels at which I stayed, or a certain pattern of relations among these things. I was asked to supply the embassy with additional information, including 15 years of travel history, in particular where I had gone and who had paid for it. The officer said that Homeland Security investigators could assess my case more promptly if I supplied the names of anyone in my network whom I believed might have triggered the algorithm. I declined to provide this information.

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Meetings with their Gods

Claire Hall

Theexiled tyrant Pisistratus, planning his return to Athens in the early sixth century bc, hired an unusually tall woman named Phye to ride beside him in his chariot. She was to pretend to be the manifestation of the goddess Athena, the patron of Athens. Herodotus gives her height as some four cubits – around 5’11", more than a foot taller than the average woman at the time...

LRB Reading

Après Brexit

Ferdinand Mount

The Tory right is engaged on an ambitious enterprise of demolition and detachment, of which leaving the EU is only the most conspicuous – though so far the most momentous – element. Yes, national solitude is the Holy Grail for the Knights Not Round the Table – Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Sir Bill Cash, Sir John Redwood et al – and they have devoted their adult lives to it. But they have more in mind than this. They hope also to undo the constitutional and administrative reforms of the Blair years. What they want to achieve is a simplification of democracy. The overall goal is often described, and with justice, as a sort of national populism, of the kind practised by Orbán, Bolsonaro and Erdoğan. But the mechanisms by which this new style of politics is to be delivered and entrenched are peculiar to Britain.


Rereading Bowen

Tessa Hadley

Ata certain point in my reading life, aged 12 or 13, I promoted myself to the adult section of my local library, climbing up three wide steps covered in yellow linoleum. There, not knowing how to choose, I gravitated to Elizabeth Bowen – along with others, including Compton Mackenzie and Hugh Walpole, of whose writing I can’t now recall even the faintest flavour. I’d...

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‘Generation Left’

William Davies

When​ Britain left the EU on 31 January, led by a prime minister commanding a fresh eighty-seat majority in the House of Commons, a line (of sorts) was drawn under the most turbulent period in the country’s recent political history. The past four years have witnessed one historic referendum, two general elections, two major upsets at the ballot box, three prime ministers, the birth of...

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‘American Dirt’

Christian Lorentzen

Jeanine Cummins’s​ American Dirt (Tinder, £14.99) begins with a massacre. Fourteen people are killed at a birthday barbecue: the family – husband, mother, cousins etc – of Lydia Pérez and her eight-year-old son, Luca, who are hiding in the bathroom. One of the three assailants uses the toilet, unaware that mother and son, the actual targets of the...

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LRB Reading

Fiction and the Age of Lies

Colin Burrow

The age of lies​ is probably as old as time. When I was young there was a comedian who did a Bristolian version of the Fall of Man. In the Garden of Eden, God says to Adam: ‘Adam, you bin eating them apples?’ ‘I neverrr,’ Adam replies. God says: ‘What are all them bloody apple cores doing on the ground then?’

‘I neverrr’ is the original lie,...


The Deborah Orr I Knew

Jenny Turner

When​ Deborah Orr died, in October, I hadn’t seen her for more than 16 years. We’d run into each other in 2003 at a book party, when I was pregnant with my son, and she’d tearfully told my then partner, now husband, that he’d better look after me, or else: a bit rich, I remember thinking, given how vile she’d been when we were falling out. A few months later,...

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LRB Collections numbers 1 to 7

LRB Books: Collections and Selections

Rediscover classic pieces, recurring themes, and the dash the London Review of Books has cut through the history of ideas, for the past 40 years, with LRB Collections and now LRB Selections: two new series of collectible books.

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Jon McNaught illustration of person looking at phone on a bus

What’s new?

‘The London Review of Books is something new,’ the LRB’s founding editor Karl Miller wrote in our first ever issue, 40 years ago. ‘This, for the first time, is it.’ Now, for the first time in a decade, the same can be said of our website.

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Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

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