Mia Levitin

Mia Levitin is a cultural and literary critic. She is the author of The Future of Seduction.

Are hallucinogenic drugs losing their stigma?

We are in the midst of a ‘psychedelic renaissance’. Not since the 1950s and early 1960s has there been so much interest in researching the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. The FDA approved a ketamine derivative for medicinal use in 2019, and has given both MDMA and psilocybin (the psycho-active ingredient in magic mushrooms) ‘breakthrough therapy’

Sex and the married woman

The epigraph of Three Women comes from Baudelaire’s ‘Windows’: ‘What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what goes on behind a windowpane.’ Inspired by Gay Talese’s 1980 reportage on the sexual revolution, Thy Neighbour’s Wife, Lisa Taddeo, a journalist and Pushcart prize-winning short story writer, peered into the windows

Scenes from domestic life: After the Funeral, by Tessa Hadley, reviewed

The cover image of Tessa Hadley’s fourth short story collection is Gerhard Richter’s ‘Betty’ (1988), a portrait of the artist’s daughter facing away from the viewer. It’s an apt choice for Hadley’s work, which turns on the fundamental unknowability of human beings. The titular tale, about a widowed mother and her two daughters confronting reduced

Femicide in Mexico reaches staggering proportions

In July 1990, Liliana Rivera Garza, a 20-year-old architecture student, was strangled to death at her home in a borough of Mexico City. Her suspected killer, Ángel González Ramos, an ex-boyfriend, fled and remained at large. Three decades later, buttressed by a movement protesting against violence towards women, her sister returned to Mexico in the

Are we still prejudiced against professional women?

In Ladies Can’t Climb Ladders, the social historian Jane Robinson — whose previous books include histories of suffragettes and bluestockings — champions British women who were ‘first-footers’ in the elite fields of academia, architecture, the Church, engineering, law and medicine.One and a half million women joined the workforce during the first world war (at half

Svitlana Morenets, Rana Mitter and Mia Levitin

20 min listen

This week: Svitlana Morenets explains why Ukraine won’t accept compromise in any form (00:56), Rana Mitter details Japan’s plans for an anti-China coalition (05:43), and Mia Levitin reads her review of Muppets in Moscow by Natasha Lance Rogoff (13:17).  Produced and presented by Oscar Edmondson.

How the Muppets went to Moscow as ambassadors for democracy

In this engaging memoir, Natasha Lance Rogoff recounts the experience of bringing Sesame Street to Yeltsin’s Russia. A Russo-phile who changed her name from Susan to Natasha as a teenager, Lance Rogoff had been working in Moscow for more than a decade as a reporter and documentary filmmaker when she was approached to be the

A post-racial world: The Last White Man, by Mohsin Hamid, reviewed

Mohsin Hamid’s fifth novel opens with a Kafkaesque twist: Anders, a white man, wakes to find that he has turned ‘a deep and undeniable brown’. Unrecognisable to his entourage, he first confesses his predicament to Oona, an old friend and new lover. Similar metamorphoses begin to be reported throughout the country and violence ensues as

Life’s great dilemma: Either/Or, by Elif Batuman, reviewed

In this delightful sequel to her semi-autobiographical novel The Idiot (2017), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Elif Batuman returns to Harvard to follow her protagonist Selin during her sophomore year. Selin has spent the summer of 1996 teaching English in Hungary, trailing her friend Ivan. Her crush on him remains unrequited and

The sorry state of cinematic sex

The sexiest scene in Adrian Lyne’s new film, Deep Water, starring Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck, may be de Armas eating an apple—a distant echo of the iconic food scene in Lyne’s 9 ½ Weeks (1986). Based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1957 novel, in which an openly adulterous wife suspects her husband of drowning her latest

Our strange need for pandemic novels

Our collective Covid hangover includes facing the inevitable influx of pandemic novels. Following a cameo in Ali Smith’s Orwell Prize–winning Summer and Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You, the pandemic takes centre stage this autumn in titles including Sarah Hall’s Burntcoat and Sarah Moss’s The Fell. Across the Atlantic, authors including Gary Shteyngart and

Only time will tell if there’ll be a Great Pandemic Novel

We had been dreading it like (forgive me) the plague: the inevitable onslaught of corona-lit. Fortunately, the first few titles out of the gate have been in capable hands. Zadie Smith reflected on lockdown in Intimations, a slim volume of personal essays; the virus featured in Ali Smith’s Orwell Prize-winning Summer; and Sarah Moss imagines

The dark underbelly of New Orleans revealed by Hurricane Katrina

Home, as James Baldwin wrote, is perhaps ‘not a place but simply an irrevocable condition’. Sarah M. Broom’s National Book Award-winning memoir The Yellow House is a sweeping social history and condition report of the New Orleans neighbourhood in which she grew up. The youngest of 12 children in a blended household, Broom was born

A spiral of deceit

The Hebrew word for ‘truth’ – see above left  (emet) is comprised of the first, middle and last letters of the alphabet. Truth, scholars say, pervades all things. Talmudists add that the aleph, mem and tav that form emet are balanced, grounded characters, while the letters that make up the word for‘lie’ – see above