Ten of Our Top Stories from 2017


Best of 2017

The Paris Review’s  office.


This year has certainly been a memorable one for The Paris Review, with more than a few moments that tried our resolve. But we prefer to remember it as a landmark year, measured out by four extraordinary issues that included Hilton Als’s imaginary biopic about James Baldwin and Nina Simone, the fiction debuts of J. M. Holmes and J. Jezewska Stevens, and an interview with Maxine Groffsky, one of the magazine’s first female editors, which reads like a page-turning feminist adventure story. This was the year we launched our podcast (there are six episodes to carry you into the new year, and many more to come) and reintroduced the Paris Review Editions imprint with the Women at Work interview anthology. As of this writing, the volume is sold out, but sign up for our newsletter: the next book is already underway.

And here on the Daily, we’ve been publishing exciting new writing, well, daily. When I took over this post in September, I was nervous. My predecessor, Dan Piepenbring, had left big shoes to fill (as well as, it turned out, actual high-heeled shoes behind the desk, though he has denied ownership). Since the 2016 election, I have been filled with an existential dread that only seems to recede when I felt I was doing something worthwhile. Three months in, I can proclaim with absolute certainty that what we’re doing on the Daily and at The Paris Review is more than worthwhile—it’s essential. In a year of constant, terrifying news alerts, we have carved out a space for humor, for reflection, for going deep and going wide, and for capturing our moment not through its tweets but through its culture. It’s easy to get lost in despair. We want to make it easy, too, to get lost in writing that makes us feel reinvigorated, hopeful, and less alone.

To get you started, I’ve selected ten pieces we’ve published online in 2017—starting with monstrous men and ending with good advice:

1. What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men

Claire Dederer is fearless. She asks the hard questions, then harder ones still. 

2. A Number of Reasons I Have Been Depressed Lately

David Sedaris gives us ten reasons for his recent blues. Spoiler: several of them have to do with Trump. 

3. The Inventions of Witches

Kathryn Nuernberger on witches, Derrida, and the impossibility of ever being truly known. 

4. “Human Life is Punishment,” and Other Pleasures of Studying Latin

In other language textbooks, writes Frankie Thomas, you might learn phrases such as, “Where is the library?” In Wheelock’s Latin textbook, you’ll find, “Few men have true friends, and few are deserving of them.” 

5. Watership Down

Emily Ruskovich has a very, very deep connection to these rabbits. 

6. Why Write Fiction in 2017?

After conducting interviews with 150 of the greatest writers of our time, Joe Fassler brings us not just answers but a moving manifesto.

7. On Basquiat, the Black Body, and a Strange Sensation in My Neck

Aisha Sabatini Sloan writes, “Many see Basquiat’s paintings and think only of his sad story, his illness. Not ours.”

8. The Dark Feels Different in November

Nina MacLaughlin on the gathering chill, the Japanese concept of ma, and the brightness that every dark period brings. 

9. Playing for Ralph Ellison’s Little Man at Chehaw Station

Mychal Denzel Smith on Ellison, hip-hop, and the importance of broadening our definition of the American audience.

10. Lynda Barry’s Advice Column

Brilliantly strange cartoonist Lynda Barry tackles every question with aplomb, from “How do I stop my roommate from peeing in our drinking glasses?” to “How do I cure my hopeless indecision?”


And don’t forget to subscribe! The New Year and four new issues await!