From the Booker-shortlisted author of The Mars Room, a career-spanning collection of spectacular essays about politics and culture.
Rachel Kushner is a writer celebrated for her 'chops, ambition, and killer instinct' (John Powers, Fresh Air). In The Hard Crowd, she gathers a selection of her writing from over the course of the last twenty years that addresses the most pressing political, artistic, and cultural issues of our times - and illuminates the themes and real-life terrain that underpin her fiction.
In nineteen razor-sharp essays, The Hard Crowd spans literary journalism, memoir, cultural criticism, and writing about art and literature, including pieces on Jeff Koons, Denis Johnson, and Marguerite Duras. Kushner takes us on a journey through a Palestinian refugee camp, an illegal motorcycle race down the Baja Peninsula, 1970s wildcat strikes in Fiat factories, her love of classic cars, and her young life in the music scene of her hometown, San Francisco. The closing, eponymous essay is her manifesto on nostalgia, doom, and writing.
These pieces, new and old, are electric, phosphorescently vivid, and wry, and they provide an opportunity to witness the evolution and range of one of the world's most dazzling and fearless writers.
The Hard Crowd is wild, wide-ranging and unsparingly intelligent throughout.
She's going to be one we turn to for our serious pleasures and for the insight and wisdom we'll be needing in hard times to come.
I honestly don't know how she is able to know so much (about motorcycle racing, Italian radical politics) and convey all of it in such a completely entertaining and mesmerizing way.
She seems to work with a muse and a nail gun, so surprisingly yet forcefully do her sentences pin reality to the page.
Kushner can really write. Her prose has a poise and wariness and moral graininess that put you in mind of Robert Stone and Joan Didion. This wariness lurks beneath a sensibility that's on constant alert for crazy, sensual, often ravaged beauty.
The 'GAN' is a concept near impossible to define, and even harder to write. But that's not to say some brave writers haven't tried to 'paint the American soul'.
Books and Christmas go hand in hand for Icelanders. A country famous for its love of books and storytelling, Iceland has a uniquely rich literary heritage. Svanborg Þórdís Sigurðardóttir, a bookseller at Reykjavík’s famous Penninn Eymundsson bookshop, tells us what it’s like to work as a bookseller in Iceland at Christmas.