End of the World
Novelists Gary Shteyngart and Joshua Cohen discuss their dark visions of the future
This week, Vox Tablet invites listeners to consider some unconventional summer reading. Gary Shteyngart and Joshua Cohen have both come out with new novels that paint a very dark picture of the future. In Super Sad True Love Story, Shteyngart envisions a not-so-distant world in which the United States is a crumbling, militarized empire, public and private life are indistinguishable and projected for all to see through social networking technologies, and the reading of books is a lost art. In Cohen’s novel Witz, a mysterious plague has claimed the lives of all but one of the world’s Jews, and that last Jew, Benjamin Israelien, is subject to the passions of a public that is equal parts philo- and anti-Semitic.
The novelists take their dystopian visions in radically different directions—Shteyngart has written a fast-moving love story, while Cohen’s is more stream-of-Jewish-consciousness, dense with wordplay and religious and cultural references. Tablet Magazine Editor-in-Chief Alana Newhouse sat down with the two of them for a sometimes bookish, other times bawdy, conversation over drinks and smoked fish, on a sweltering summer day on the boardwalk of Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach.
A new history examines the Jewish role in the musical world of Czarist Russia
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.