Adam Shatz

Adam Shatz is the LRB’s US editor, based in New York. He is working on a book about Frantz Fanon.

From The Blog
11 November 2021

As Marine Le Pen is learning, a lot of French people like what they’re hearing from Éric Zemmour: they don’t want a ‘de-diabolised’ Rassemblement Nationale. They want their racism and rage served up straight, just as many Republican voters in the States turned out to prefer Trump’s explicit white nationalism to the dog-whistling versions the Republican Party had been peddling for decades.

When​ Richard Wright sailed to France in 1946, he was 38 years old and already a legend. He was America’s most famous black writer, the author of two books hailed as classics the moment they were published: the 1940 novel Native Son and the 1945 memoir Black Boy. By ‘choosing exile’, as he put it, he hoped both to free himself from American racism and to put an ocean...

Ghosts in the Land

Adam Shatz, 3 June 2021

Privately, Netanyahu and the Israeli army have always had an interest in keeping Hamas in power in Gaza. Israel allowed the movement to flourish in its early years as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the PLO. Hamas’s rule in Gaza kept the Palestinians divided, and Palestinian political fragmentation has always been a key Israeli objective. Several Israeli pundits have suggested that Netanyahu deliberately provoked Hamas in order to prevent his opponents from establishing a governing coalition. Israel has had four elections in two years, and if he fails to hold on to power, he could face corruption charges and a prison term. In the lead-up to Hamas’s rocket barrage, he pursued a series of flagrantly reckless policies. Oppression alone seldom detonates revolt; humiliation – what the Algerians call hogra – is also necessary. Netanyahu supplied it in abundance. The war was more of a gift to Hamas than he bargained for, however.


Adam Shatz, 6 May 2021

Edward Said wrote of Palestinians as witnesses to a century defined by ethnic cleansing, wars of national liberation, and migration, in restless, nomadic pursuit of freedom: ‘a counterpoint (if not a cacophony) of multiple, almost desperate dramas’. Said’s Palestinianism exemplified the qualities he admired: open-ended and exploratory, resistant to the doctrinal and racial fixity – the dark historical fatalism and exclusionary fear of the other – that Zionism embodied. If Zionism was the song of a single people, Palestinianism held out the hope of a non-sectarian future for both peoples. Palestinian freedom, whether in the form of a sovereign state neighbouring Israel or – the position he defended after Oslo – a binational state, represented ‘a beginning’, a dynamic intervention in history, rather than a return to origin. And yet his vision also looked to the past, betraying a wistful attachment to his childhood memories of colonial Cairo, where Arabs and Jews, Muslims and Christians had lived beside one another.

When France pulled out of Algeria in 1962, the remaining appelés came home to a country that was no longer the one they’d left. The Nouvelle Vague was at its height and most people had already moved on from ‘the events’ on the other side of the Mediterranean. Many of the returnees shared the desire to put Algeria behind them, some to the point of deliberately ‘disaffiliating’ from other soldiers. But it wasn’t easy to forget what they’d seen and what they’d left behind.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences