Arts & Culture

Updated April 8, 2021 at 6:20 PM ET

Late in Patrick Radden Keefe's brutal, multigenerational treatment of the Sackler family, Empire of Pain, he offers a jarring anecdote.

It's 2019. The scandal surrounding OxyContin, Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers' role in America's devastating opioid epidemic is front-page news. Hundreds of people are dying every day from overdoses.

A dream of a day at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. We'd come out of a huge David Hockney exhibition, and my family and I were pooped. So granddaughters, their mother Myndy and I sat on a rim of the Stravinsky Fountain to rest a bit, while my son Josh took our picture.

The fountain makes me smile four years later, as it did the first time I saw it decades ago. It's a 1983 collaboration between sculptors Jean Tinguely (he did the black mechanical parts) and Niki de Saint Phalle (the puffy colorful figures — something/someone in a crown, serpent, heart, lips).

Sanjena Sathian's debut novel, Gold Diggers, is full of voice. Neil — Neeraj when his parents are mad — Narayan's voice to be exact, telling the defining stories of his life from a hazy point in the future that is, at first, only hinted at. His rollicking, at times painful, and ultimately intensely satisfying tale begins when he's a teenager living in Hammond Creek, Ga. with his parents and older sister. He considers his existence to have been shaped by his parents' ambitions for him, but now that he's in high school, he's got a few ambitions of his own.

Merry Clayton Bares Her 'Beautiful Scars'

Apr 8, 2021

When the Rolling Stones released "Gimme Shelter" in 1969, everyone recognized Mick Jagger. But at the time, no one knew who that voice – you know the one – belonged to.

Lately, everyone's talking about trauma. Trauma in news form, trauma in essay form, trauma in Twitter thread form.

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Growing up in East Jerusalem, Palestinian cookbook author Reem Kassis never expected to enter the food industry. For her, the kitchen represented a "life sentence" for women.

Instead, Kassis moved to the U.S. when she was 17, first studying business at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and then at the London School of Economics. It wasn't until she had a child that she began to see the kitchen as a "powerful place" where she could share important stories about food and culture with her daughter.

Imagine waking up with no memory. No memory of the night before, no memory of your family and friends, no memory of your own name, even.

Hangover-induced amnesia. You wake up — after a despairing battle with your psyche — pantsless and decaying in your battered hostel room, the window smashed, hot water flowing indefinitely out of the bathroom faucet.

Reading Helen Oyeyemi's Peaces is like walking into a bizarre interstitial space between a surrealist narrative populated by mongooses and strange characters and the realm of classic Agatha Christie-esque mysteries that take place on trains to undisclosed locations. If that doesn't make much sense, you're beginning to get an idea of what this novel is like.

Leigh Bardugo's new Rule of Wolves opens with a little vignette of terror: A winged monster attacking a rural farm. But readers of her Grishaverse books will know this isn't just any monster — it's the king himself, Nikolai of Ravka.

The film Judas and the Black Messiah has already made history at the Oscars. It's the first Best Picture nominee with an all-Black producing team, which includes two Kings and a Coogler: Ryan Coogler, Shaka King and Charles D. King, who brings a new vision for Hollywood.

H.E.R. Is A 'Soul Baby' With A Social Conscience

Apr 6, 2021

She's only 23 years old, but H.E.R. speaks like a music industry veteran – and, in many ways, truly is one. The accolades piling up around her attest: The day after the singer won her fourth Grammy Award for the song "I Can't Breathe" from her album of the same name, she and her co-writers were nominated for an Oscar for the song "Fight For You," from the movie Judas and the Black Messiah.

It's Capetown, 1981. A family gathers for what looks like a back-slapping birthday party — but is actually a farewell.

In the South African drama Moffie, Nicholas, a teenager who's as subdued as his relatives are raucous, will head off in the morning for military service that's compulsory for boys between 16 and 20. White boys that is. This being the era of apartheid, brutal segregation, and white minority rule, his basic training will prove anything-but-basic.

In Morgan Jerkins' new novel Caul Baby, a family of Black women has a gift; they're born with a caul, a layer over their skin that protects them from harm. They can share the caul with others — and sell it "to the highest bidder" — which brings trouble. After all, "aren't all gifts double edged swords?" says Jerkins.

The family lives in Harlem, with a history stretching back to Louisiana. Although the story has fantastical elements, Jerkins used building blocks from her own family history to imagine these women into being.

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