Who’s afraid of the young Asian girl? On Jenny Zhang’s “Sour Heart”

  Jenny Zhang is not interested in your approval. Her debut collection of short stories Sour Heart, all narrated from the perspective of various Chinese teen girls (or teens-to-be), drips of unabashed vulgarity and candour. Her first short story, We Love Your Crispina, opens with the observation that ‘we had to mash our king-sized shits into smaller pieces since we were too poor and too irresponsible back then to even […]

Re-membering Europe: nostalgia and the refugee crisis

A visit to the Hungarian National Museum prompts Theo Di Castri to reflect on the intersections of nostalgia, nationalism and Europe’s hostile response to the recent influx of refugees that have arrived within its border over the past year. Looking beyond the obvious and troublesome ways in which nostalgia is employed to bolster regressive, far-right politics, he explores the ways in which the nostalgic impulse might be salvaged as a resource for building a new and expanded sense of solidarity and community within a changing Europe.

My Brother, George Best and Me

When my brother persuaded our dad to take him to see George Best and Manchester United for the first time, I was three years old. As I pottered about on that September day in 1969, I was unaware that Paul had managed, at the age of 12, to break through into another world altogether: one where colours were more vivid and the romance of life was transformed into something extraordinary […]

The Lonely Old Bitcoin Miner Touches Eternity Or, What is a Peer?

The Lonely Old Bitcoin Miner is a playful experiment in critical making. He is a pitiful amalgam of stolen Disney intellectual property and low-end computer hardware. He is powered by dreams of distributed peer-to-peer networks: first, of striking it rich through Bitcoin, and now, of contributing to the blockchain, a permanent infrastructure of collective memory. Are both dreams equally hopeless? The Lonely Old Bitcoin Miner invites us to ask: what does it really mean to be a peer?

Living Against Everything: An Interview with Mark Greif

Mark Greif is Professor of Literary Studies at the New School, NY, and a founding editor of the magazine n+1. His collection of essays “Against Everything” offers a sustained critique of contemporary consumer culture, and asks questions about our assumptions concerning ‘the good life’. King’s Review editors Johannes Lenhard and Chris Townsend spoke with Greif about Romanticism, hipsters, and universal basic income.

Going in Circles: Amanda Coker, World Record Cyclist

Despite the fact that Amanda Coker has now cycled further in a year than any other human, she has been dogged by critical voices on social media. This in part relates to her methods —she has ridden in circles around the exact same seven-mile loop for the past 365 days, and she often rides a relaxed ‘recumbent’ bike. Chris Townsend explores the excessive nature of her achievements, and attempts to make sense of the claim that what she has done is “not real cycling”.

Fieldwork in Lyonesse: Salvage Ethnography before the Anthropocene Floods

If the Norfolk Broads are a landscape woven on the loom of history, then the Anthropocene could represent the age of its unravelling. Drawing on both his research experiences in the Broads, as well as the mythological and folkloric significance of that landscape, Jonathan Woolley asks why, when our darkest nightmares are becoming ecological reality, we find ourselves so paralysed to act.

The Politics of Happiness

With measures of subjective well-being on the rise, what role does happiness have to play in politics? Should it inform our judgements about who receives welfare payments? Might the government try to direct society towards a particular notion of ‘happiness’? Sam Dalton explores these questions and more, and argues that a public, deliberative politics of happiness might indeed be a good thing.

International Women’s Day: Female Consciousness

This week, on the 8th of March, thousands will renounce their daily demands to strike for International Women’s Day. Women are calling upon women to act, or not act, in any way they can: to ‘put a broom outside the front door or a banner in the window; bang pots and pans, change your facebook profile to the image of the Strike, refuse to do the washing up or the shopping, charge double for sex work’.

In Defense of Incomplete Endings

Despite its mainstream success at the box office, ‘La La Land’ resists fulfilling the usual Hollywood romance narratives. Reading the film alongside Roland Barthes’s ‘The Lover’s Discourse’, Rebecca Liu suggests that the message of both is that “to love, sometimes, means to know when it is time to let go”.

Hipster Post-Factualism and the Rise of the Extremely Real

While the left-leaning media bemoan the rise of a “post-truth” political culture, might not the left wing be just as easy to caricature as “post-factualist” as is the right? Natalie Morningstar examines the figure of the hipster, as liberal consumer par excellence, and argues that a moralising language of truth and reality – of factualism – spans the full breadth of the political spectrum.

Second-Hand: “Song of Solomon”, Toni Morrison

  ‘Second-Hand’ is a series of alternative book reviews. Traditional reviews, with their emphasis on the latest and greatest novels, risk leaving the reader behind. This column offers a breathing space, by focusing each time on a single second-hand book. The focus of this column is on chance encounters, revisionary readings of classic novels, and on the margins of the literary canon. It is a celebration of the book as physical object, in an […]

Hito Steyerl’s “Liquidity Inc.” and Art Under Neoliberalism

What can contemporary art tell us about the reality in which we’re living? Through a reading of “Liquidity Inc.” by the German artist Hito Steyerl, Gary Zhang reflects on 2008 as a technological, economic and aesthetic turning point — and on its consequences for representing realism in a ‘post-truth’ world.

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