Columbia Ink

L-R: Michael Scammell, Sam Lipsyte and Jenny Davidson (Image credit: Eileen Barroso / Columbia University)
L-R: Michael Scammell, Sam Lipsyte and Jenny Davidson
Image credit: Eileen Barroso /
Columbia University
A wealth of new books by faculty members has hit bookstores, with topics ranging across a wide range of disciplines—economics, history, literature and law, just to name a few. These literary offerings cross many genres, as the eclectic works from these three faculty members vividly illustrate. They include a critically acclaimed biography of Arthur Koestler, the contentious chameleon of 20th-century intellectualism, by Michael Scammell; a much-praised novel by Sam Lipsyte that offers a wry commentary on current American culture; and Jenny Davidson’s unique perspective on 18th-century social mores. Both Scammell and Lipsyte are professors in creative writing at the School of the Arts and Davidson, herself a published novelist, is an associate professor of English and comparative literature.


The Privileges by Jonathan Dee The Privileges
Random House
Author Jonathan Dee returns to his familiar themes of dysfunction, desire and greed for his fifth novel, The Privileges. By all accounts, Adam and Cynthia Morey appear to be the happy, successful and wealthy couple they project to friends and family. But when Adam’s questionable business practices threaten the family’s power and privilege, a spectacular tale of self-deception and resurrection unfolds. With Privileges, Dee who teaches in the School of the Arts graduate writing division, secures his place as one of the more skillful contemporary American writers. His readers will revel in yet another intelligently written story that forces us to question the heights to which we aspire.
The Ask by Sam Lipsyte The Ask
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sam Lipsyte, assistant professor and associate director of Undergraduate Creative Writing, flirts with the fine line between personal disaster and hilarity in his latest work of fiction, The Ask. He invites his readers into the world of antihero Milo Burke, a failed painter turned-university fund-raiser who finds himself unemployed after an unfortunate encounter with an undergraduate. Lipsyte constructs characters whose world views are informed by the fundraising jargon of “ask” and “give” and leverages humor in his novel to satirize the complex social relationships that are perpetuated in an American society flagging in energy and opportunity.
Ghosts of Home by Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer
Ghosts of Home: The Afterlife of Czernowitz
in Jewish Memory
University of California Press
The Ukrainian city of Czernowitz was a cosmopolitan center during the Hapsburg Empire, with a vibrant Jewish-German Eastern European culture. Now, it is a vanished city, destroyed during World War II, surviving only in the cultural memory of the descendants of those who once lived in this “Vienna of the East.” In Ghosts of Home, Marianne Hirsch, the William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and Leo Spitzer, a visiting professor of history, tell the story of how Czernowitz survives in nostalgia and family histories that recall its culture, oppression and the Holocaust.
Koestler by Michael Scammell
Koestler: the Literary and Political Odyssey
of a Twentieth-Century Skeptic
Random House
Michael Scammell, a professor of creative writing at School of the Arts, has produced the first authorized biography of Arthur Koesler, author of the anti-totalitarian novel, Darkness at Noon, journalist, and 20th-century intellectual. The Hungarian-born Jew was sentenced to death during the Spanish dictatorship of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, became a Zionist while living in Palestine and escaped from France when the Nazis invaded. Koestler’s personal life was no less action-packed; he had a history of womanizing, drug use and mental illness. In 1983, at age 77, ill with Parkinson’s and leukemia, he committed suicide.
Mentors, Muses & Monsters edited by Elizabeth Benedict
Mentors, Muses & Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives
Simon & Schuster
This collection of essays by successful writers on the people who most influenced them includes one by Mary Gordon, the Millicent C. McIntosh Professor in English and Writing and author of four best-selling novels about her mentors: the Barnard professors Elizabeth Hardwick and Janice Thaddeus. The book, edited by Elizabeth Benedict, a Barnard graduate and a lecturer in Columbia College’s creative writing department, includes contributions from two Pulitzer Prizewinners, six National Book Award recipients and other well-known authors discussing the people, events and books they turn to for inspiration.
Rethinking Juvenile Justice by Elizabeth S. Scott and Laurence Steinberg Rethinking Juvenile Justice
Harvard University Press
In Rethinking Juvenile Justice, co-authors Elizabeth S. Scott and Laurence Steinberg explore the nation’s increasingly punitive juvenile justice system and its tendency to do more harm than good. While a growing number of states are prosecuting minors as adults, Scott, Columbia’s Harold R. Medina Professor of Law, and Steinberg, a psychology professor at Temple University, conclude that the practice often leads to future incarceration. They propose a new approach to responding to youth crime rooted in psychological and social development, arguing that adolescents should serve out their time in juvenile facilities, where they have a better chance of becoming successful adults.
Breeding by Jenny Davidson
Breeding: A Partial History of the
Eighteenth Century
Columbia University Press
The Age of the Enlightenment may have ushered in a new era of ideas and values questioning traditional notions of customs and morals, but when it came to one’s progeny, writes Jenny Davidson, blood lineage and class continued to be revered above all else. In her latest book, Breeding: A Partial History of the Eighteenth Century, Davidson, an associate professor of English and comparative literature, draws on the works of Locke, Rousseau, Swift and Defoe as she revisits the social tenets that influenced hereditary, culture and society in 18th-century Europe.
Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy
W. W. Norton & Co. Inc.
Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and University professor, tackles the causes and long-term effects of the recent financial meltdown in his newest book, Freefall. There’s plenty of blame to go around for the current recession, he writes: Wall Street banks that created products even they didn’t understand, a Federal Reserve that helped create one bubble after another, lax regulation and irresponsible fiscal policy by Washington and even economists themselves for failing to reevaluate their own theories in light of major crises. Freefall isn’t just about the causes of the Great Recession, it includes proposals to ease the crisis and fix our broken financial system for the long term.
Columbia on Facebook Columbia on Twitter Columbia on Google+ Columbia on iTunes U Columbia News RSS Columbia on YouTube

Special Issues

Columbia and the Environment
The Record Special Issue: Columbia in New York