September 2021, no. 435

September 2021, no. 435

From Plato to plutocrats, the September issue of ABR brings together the best and worst of the cultural moment. In our cover feature, Joel Deane casts his eye over the ‘ugly truth’ of Facebook’s contemptuous exploitation of users, while in a thought experiment inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin, Elizabeth Oliver identifies more worthy candidates for space travel than Branson and Bezos. Megan Clement reports from Paris on the pass sanitaire and Diane Stubbings reviews Peter Doherty’s plague-year dispatches. Sheila Fitzpatrick is our Critic of the Month and was a judge in this year’s Calibre Prize, for which Anita Punton’s ‘May Day’, printed in this issue, came runner-up. We also feature reviews of new fiction by Jennifer Mills, Colm Tóibín, and Laurent Binet, and new poetry by Toby Fitch, John Hawke, and Song Lin – as well as much, much more!


Full Contents


An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s battle for domination by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang


An Insider’s Plague Year by Peter Doherty

Calibre Prize

May Day


To Kill a Democracy: India’s passage to despotism by Debasish Roy Chowdhury and John Keane


The Airways by Jennifer Mills


The Magician by Colm Tóibín


Believe in Me by Lucy Neave


In Moonland by Miles Allinson


Civilisations by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor

Literary Studies

The Oxford Handbook of Dante by Manuele Gragnolati, Elena Lombardi, and Francesca Southerden

Literary Studies

Walter Scott at 250: Looking forward by Caroline McCracken-Flesher and Matthew Wickman


Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man by Thomas Mann, translated by Walter D. Morris

Gender and Sexuality

The Right to Sex by Amia Srinivasan


Complaint! by Sara Ahmed


Sydney Spleen by Toby Fitch


The Gleaner Song by by Song Lin, translated by Dong Li & Vociferate | 詠 by Emily Sun


What We Carry: Poetry on childbearing edited by Ella Kurz, Simone King, and Claire Delahunty


Whirlwind Duststorm by John Hawke

Science and Technology

Helgoland by Carlo Rovelli, translated by Erica Segre and Simon Carnell


This Is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan

Letters to the Editor

by Josh Stenberg, Ken Ward, Clare Rhoden, Norma Pilling, and Suzanne Jill Levine