A letter from Nikil Saval

Dear readers,

Greetings from n+1 HQ, where we’re putting the finishing touches on number 22. This issue introduces new writers to the magazine, while also bringing back some of our best writers who haven’t been seen in our pages in a long time. Now is the time to subscribe or renew.

Our politics section contains three responses to murders of black Americans by the police in Ferguson, Cleveland, New York, and elsewhere. Founding editor Mark Greif (whose first book, The Age of the Crisis of Man, was just published and is available in our store) has penned a brilliant and profound essay on the role and function of the police in contemporary democracy, given tragic urgency by recent events. Lawrence Jackson, professor of English literature at Emory, describes the persistence of police violence since his Baltimore childhood, in a speech given to activists at his university. And three young associates of n+1—Doreen St. Félix, Cosme del Rosario-Bell, and Elias Rodriques—speak candidly, eloquently, and fiercely about their reactions to the murders and their own encounters with the police, in a roundtable convened by my comrade-editor Dayna Tortorici.

In fiction, we’re exceptionally pleased to publish two superb (and superbly weird) stories by Christine Smallwood, whose fantastic criticism we’ve run in the past. Standout pieces of memoir and criticism are at the core of the issue. One is Tortorici’s enormous and coruscating treatment of the work of Elena Ferrante—to my mind, the single best piece of writing about Ferrante published anywhere. Another is the extraordinary voice of Phil Connors. In one of his most accomplished works, Connors narrates a story of sexual abuse and lost innocence. It’s among the strongest essays we’ve ever run. Meanwhile, Gabriel Winant considers the precise significance of “affect theory” for contemporary activism in a wide-ranging essay, and filmmaker Brandon Harris wrestles with the meaning of Spike Lee’s work for the past and future of black American film. The issue also features a new edition of Kristin Dombek’s incomparable Help Desk, in which she explores the problems binaries pose for love, and an acute and unsettling essay by Jordan Kisner, on OCD and the ways we think about the relationship between the world and our own minds. Our translation is a dispatch from the Mexican province of Guerrero, where fearless journalist Alejandro Almazán went in search of the roots of the crisis that culminated last fall in the kidnapping of 43 student-teachers from Ayotzinapa.

At the risk of sounding too proud: I want to say that this issue of our magazine feels to me like a real event—one of our deepest efforts to be equal to our time.  Your continuing readership and support of the magazine is what keeps us going. New recruits—join up! Old hands—stay with us.

Yours,

Nikil (for n+1)

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