Nikil Saval

All articles by this author

The Painful Sum of Things

The Painful Sum of Things

On V. S. Naipaul

I have admired Naipaul as much as I have found him difficult to admire, a murky admixture that I find difficult to explain or clarify, and which I find with no other writer, to anything like the same degree. (Edward Said referred to his “pained admiration,” and dissonant phrases of that kind are scattered through appreciations of his work.) I know, too, that you knew him, which I did not. I don’t know if that makes him more or less difficult to appraise.

Desperately Seeking Cities

Desperately Seeking Cities

Amazon has bankrupted the ideology it claimed to appeal to: the ideology of “urbanism.”

Most city dwellers, it turns out, live lives of quiet desperation for Amazon. What was happening to Philadelphia disclosed the emptiness not just of this city, but of what people all over the country had learned to think cities were good for.

Disrupt the Citizen

Disrupt the Citizen

Against ride-sharing

The proliferating but ever meaningless distinctions between the “bad” Uber and the “good” Lyft have obscured how destructive the rise of ride-sharing has been for workers and the cities they live in. The predatory lawlessness that prevails inside Valley workplaces scales up and out. Both companies entered their markets illegally, without regard to prevailing wages, regulations, or taxes. Like Amazon, which found a way to sell books without sales tax, this turned out to be one of the many illegal boons.

NBA Playoff Update

NBA Playoff Update

There was a kind of spiritual unity in Mike D’Antoni’s mustache and Steve Nash’s bad hair.

Historically outflanked by the Lakers, with whom they share an arena, the Clippers have no true fan base and no real reason for existence, except to satisfy the unquenchable narcissism of Los Angeles, which needs all the teams.

Turf-guarding

Turf-guarding

The Democrats give the left the middle finger.

As is well known, Perez only became a candidate at the behest of Barack Obama, picked explicitly to scuttle Ellison’s otherwise smooth path to the chairmanship. This turned the contest into a referendum on how the party feels about the Sanders activists. Evidently it feels quite hostile.

The Italian Referendum Victory

The Italian Referendum Victory

Ciaone, Matteo

Renzi appealed to an idea of Italian progress that could only be guaranteed by the referendum’s passage; otherwise, he claimed, Italy would remain in a morass—it would remain, he seemed to imply, too “Italian.”

Bright Lights

Bright Lights

Sanders in Philadelphia, Castro ad mortem

The death of Fidel Castro brought to a close an entire era, in which a single figure on a small Caribbean island could dictate whole arenas of American emotional life. Since the Cuban revolution in 1959, the United States has been obsessed not with Cuba, not with communism, but with Fidel.

What Are We Trying to Figure Out?

What Are We Trying to Figure Out?

How are mutely inexpressive votes—boxes ticked once every four years by a minority of the voting-age electorate—legible?

Until November 8th, it seemed clear that one thing was going to happen, and now another thing—the exact opposite—happened, and I can’t see how this doesn’t provoke a sense of chagrin and humility.