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The Strangers’ House

In prose almost as lyrical as the works he examines, Alexander Poots’s authorial debut excavates both the notable and the neglected of Northern Ireland’s literature. Among the book’s subjects are literary titans C. S. Lewis and Seamus Heaney, contemporary author Anna Burns (the first Northern Irish winner of the Booker Prize), and lesser-studied writers Ian Cochrane and Medbh McGuckian. Poots contextualizes their works within an enduring crisis of national identity, beginning with the partition of Ireland, in 1921, and continuing in the latter half of the century with the Troubles, a three-decade period of ethno-nationalist conflict. Written from this space of murky nationhood, the theme that arises again and again from the book’s selected works is an ambiguous but rich brand of homesickness—a mixture of longing and nostalgia for a place that resists definition. ($30, —Paulina Prosnitz


Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina

From the outside, Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina looks like a bar. Or is it a deli selling cheese and cured meats that hang from hooks? Or is it an old wine dealer? The answer is all three. Located steps from Campo de’ Fiori, it feels more like a deli with tables than it does one of the best restaurants in Rome. But that’s part of the unique vibe of the Roscioli family’s masterpiece. Once you squeeze inside, you’ll find bartenders renowned for their Negronis (no small feat in Rome), thousands of wines, and seemingly just as many food choices, all inspired by products for sale at the counter, with dishes ranging from a buffalo-mozzarella tasting menu and spaghetti carbonara to the Lasagna di Marco, which is so comforting I want to winter inside it next year. (Bonus: If you find the wait too long, check out the to-go outpost, just up the street. It sells arancini as big as oranges.) ( —Michael Hainey


Shalom Italia

This year marks eight decades since the Italian-Jewish Anati brothers—Emmanuel, Reuven (nicknamed “Bubi”), and Andrea—managed to evade the Nazis by hiding in a cave with their family. In Shalom Italia, a documentary by Israeli filmmaker Tamar Tal Anati (a relative of the Anati family by marriage), the brothers, who immigrated to Israel when the war ended, retrace their turbulent childhood in a little blue Panda, visiting the house in Florence where they were born and unearthing the Tuscan Apennine cave that they were forced to call home in the winter of 1944. Memory, and its fleetingness, shadow Emmanuel, Bubi, and Andrea on their quest. The brothers disagree on virtually everything when it comes to those years—each remembers them differently. Shalom Italia serves as both a moving chronicle of three Jewish brothers’ fight for survival during World War II and an entreaty to younger generations to preserve our collective memory of the Holocaust. ( —Julia Vitale


Brown’s Hotel

In 1932, King George II of Greece, exiled and stripped of his titles, moved into a suite at Brown’s Hotel, in Mayfair, London. His rooms, which overlooked Dover Street, occupied one of the most exceptional slices of real estate in Europe. This year, the suite has been transformed by a more homegrown sort of royalty: Sir Paul Smith, the high prince of British style. It’s safe to say that I’ve never seen a hotel room remotely similar to this one. Upon entrance, the head spins at the vivid details: signature stripes on fireplace tiles, fuchsia garment hangers in the closet, a duo of chairs covered in primrose yellow bouclé, boxy tangerine desk organizers from his collaboration with Caran d’Ache. The suite is an immersion in the designer’s classic but idiosyncratic aesthetic, as well as in his own history. Smith includes ephemera from his personal collections, including his 1970s leather desk chair by Mario Bellini, and Christopher Simon Sykes’s photograph of the 11th Duke of Devonshire in the Chatsworth House library. And if you get a little too comfortable, Smith’s travertine dining table, couch, chairs, and prints will all be available for purchase. Indulge in the exultant apotheosis of modern Britishness. ($6,400 per night; —Marcia DeSanctis


Hello French

We discovered Cécilia Jourdan through her charming Instagram account, @hellofrenchnyc, which is full of instructional videos for those of us who want to sound less embarrassing when ordering a baba au rhum at Le Voltaire. Now we’re hooked on her beautiful and wildly helpful e-books. Designed to help novices get around on vacation, they also offer a useful refresher course for all of us who spent our year abroad in the City of Light drinking sangria and flirting. Download her Paris Bundle before your next trip, and consider it an investment in more pleasant interactions with the locals. ($59, —Ashley Baker


Higher Animals

New Yorker columnist Michael Specter has spent much of the last three years thinking and writing about vaccines, infectious diseases, and a cascade of conspiracy theories. Now he is releasing the ultimate audiobook on the subject, Higher Animals: Vaccines, Synthetic Biology, and the Future of Life. Produced by Pushkin Industries, a company helmed by his fellow New Yorker journalist Malcolm Gladwell, Specter tells the story of messenger RNA, which has been heralded as a medical breakthrough set to change the world. The urgency of the coronavirus pandemic pushed mRNA vaccines into the mainstream and helped spark a biotechnology revolution. Advocating to approach biology in the same way we think about computer code (something to assemble and re-assemble), the resulting narrative is both compelling and inspiring. ( —Bridget Arsenault

Issue No. 193
March 25, 2023
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Issue No. 193
March 25, 2023