Janet Malcolm and Joshua Cohen

Janet Malcolm has died. I, along with three other writers, wrote something about her for The New Republic.

Like Orwell, who thought Homage to Catalonia would have been a good book had he not turned it into journalism, Malcolm described her writing as a failure of art. Only writers who invent, she said, can write autobiographies. Journalists like her could not. They lacked the ability to make themselves interesting. The light of their work was powered, almost entirely, by the self-invention of their subjects.

You can read the rest of it here.

On Tuesday, at 7:30 pm (EST), I’ll be interviewing Joshua Cohen about his amazing new novel, The Netanyahus. You can sign up for the online event here. I can’t say enough good things about the novel—it’s about Jews, Israel, the Diaspora, identity politics, campus politics, declining empires, tribalism, nose jobs, and more. And Cohen is just an extraordinarily fertile mind, a genuine novelist of ideas, who’s also very funny. Should be a fun event. I hope you’ll join us. Again, sign up here.

(It just occurred to me that my previous blog post was about Hannah Arendt and Philip Roth. There’s an interesting parallel between these two sets of writers—in terms of gender, Judaism, sensibility, and more.)


  1. DAT October 21, 2021 at 2:02 pm | #

    Is this archived somewhere? Is there a transcript?

  2. DAT October 21, 2021 at 3:11 pm | #

    I’ve read it, liked it, and (plus which!) I’ll lead the discussion of it at our book club. (I recommended it.)

  3. DAT October 23, 2021 at 6:09 pm | #

    As long as we’re (I’m) on the topic of books, I just today finished your biography of Thomas, Corey. It was hard for me to get started in it, partly for my antipathy for its topic, but once I’d gotten 1/2 way in it was both interesting and engaging. The second 1/2 took me about 1/5th the time to read.

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