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Windhoek, 2021
My last night in Cape Town was spent at 91 Loop Boutique Hostel. Paying $33, I had a rather large, if very spartan, room, with my own toilet. With six beds, it was clearly intended as a dorm space, but tourists were still scarce, thanks to Covid. A filling breakfast was included, and it wasn’t... Read More
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The most salient feature of totalitarianism is control of movement, which entails tracking each citizen. Before the internet era, this could only be achieved roughly. The state knew John Smith lived on Lumumba Street and worked on Stalin Avenue. If Smith wanted to spend a night at a woman’s apartment, she had to register him... Read More
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Several online commenters have pointed out that Covid spelled backward becomes דיבוק in Hebrew, meaning dybbuk, a malicious possessing spirit. Using Google Translate, I found that divoc did yield דיבוק, but now, Google has tinkered with דיבוק so it merely translates as “obsessed.” Very cute. Exorcised, dybbuk is just excessive passion, you see, like a... Read More
Don’t be on the wrong side of history, Communists often warned, though of course, they needed entire classes of such people, from the bourgeoisie to landowners, kulaks, reactionaries, decadents, Fascists, monarchists, counter-revolutionaries, unreformed intellectuals, wreckers, diversionists, believers in God and, often, even yesterday’s revolutionary heroes. It didn’t matter if these charges made sense individually or... Read More
windhoek-2021x
I often write about ordinary people and the banal, because each situation is a complex allegory, if not an intriguing painting, and no one is uninteresting. Plus, normalcy calms. When you smell smoke, however, it might be wise to stop waxing about fried chicken, say, and see where the flames are coming from. In case... Read More
This happened in Tirana, Albania. As I walked across Skanderbeg Square one fine morning, a black dog darted across my path. As if this wasn’t disturbing enough, there was a woman chasing after him, shouting, “Nigra! Nigra!” It’s 2021, lady! At least have the decency to call him, “My nigga!” (Consult Rachel Jeantel for exact... Read More
cape-town-2021x1014
Universal suffrage finally came to South Africa in 1994. Not everyone cheered. Many whites hoarded beans, rice, rusks, canned protein, candles and gasoline, etc. They expected societal breakdown, if not mass violence committed by blacks in retribution. Thousands of whites emigrated, but, this is often overlooked, thousands also returned from overseas, so the “chicken run”... Read More
This is the third installment of Coronavirus Missives, a series in which I survey people in various countries about this emergency. Though I believe there is a global health crisis, most of my respondents think it’s just a giant hoax to enable increasingly totalitarian governments to shackle, cripple or even murder them. None of them... Read More
Hong Kong, 2017
I just got off Skype with Kevin Barrett. Interviewed, I sat in the dusty office of our dustier plastic recycling plant. Truck horns and roosters crowing provided background noises. Though we covered many topics, I want to expand on just one, that of America as a religion. Unless you’re a reactionary, assbackward asshole, you believe... Read More
Saigon Trade Convention, 2018
All floridly unequivocal praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Universes, and to his faithful Servant and Prophet, Mohammed, and may Israel, that abomination, smudge and curse upon mankind, be neatly erased with no trace left behind, so the rest of us can peacefully go on with our tedious and humbling labor, all while... Read More
Tarragona, Spain, 2017
In Catalonia, there’s a summer drink that combines beer with lemon soda. In Barcelona, it’s called “clara.” Further South, it’s dubbed, most charmingly, a “champu,” as in Head and Shoulders. Champu is quite good at eliminating the dandruff inside your skull. It is late summer, and I’m in Cambrils, drinking my second champu in Hawaii,... Read More
Becky Anderson in Barcelona, 2017
The Muslim conquest of Hispania began in 711 and ended in 1492. In Catalonia, they were expelled by 1154, with their last stronghold the mountainous village of Siurana, which today has but 39 residents, though with several restaurants for tourists. Walking through it, I almost felt like I was in a theme park or movie... Read More
Monica Hotel in Cambriles, Spain, 2017
In 1937, Orwell was shot in the neck during the Spanish Civil War. Known mostly as a political allegorist, Orwell was also a master at describing all that is see­n, heard and felt, so in Homage to Catalonia, you can read about his near death experience, “Roughly speaking it was the sensation of being at... Read More
Rudy Dent in Detroit, 2017
On February 18th, I was in Detroit to attend a presentation, “The War on Islam: 9/11 Revisited, Uncovered & Exposed.” Sponsored by the Nation of Islam, it featured Kevin Barrett, Richard Gage and Christopher Bollyn. Prefacing, Ilia Rashad Muhammad remarked that 9/11 is more relevant than ever, since it has been used to curb the... Read More
Rudy List and Henry Herskovitz
Though each life is rich, some are staggeringly so. Over four days in July, I had a series of conversations with Rudy List at his house in Dexter, Michigan. A 74-year-old retired math professor, Rudy introduced me to Hua Luogeng, Zitang Zhang and Terence Tao. In return, I told him about Otto Dix, Cindy Sherman,... Read More
Protest Against Netanyahu in Washington DC, 2015
Justifying the War on Terror, George Bush huffed, “We’re fighting them there, so we don’t have to fight them here.” Broke, gullible or crazed Americans must be sent overseas to combat Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, the Taliban and ISIS. Otherwise, endless terror would devastate the homeland. Periodically, terror plots must be orchestrated by the FBI... Read More
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The Dinh Dynasty lasted only 12 years and ended in 980, but in the 20th century, there were around a dozen plays about one of the Dinh queens, Duong Van Nga. When I was a kid in Saigon in the 1970s, a folk opera about her could pack a theater night after night. In 2013,... Read More
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A billboard for Comcast pitches a lineup of “reality” shows, with this caption, “Recommended for you. Because real reality is boring.” In contemporary America, real reality is also less real than Big Brother’s cartoony version. While we’re driving, walking, at work, lying in bed or even in the bathroom, Big Brother dictates what we know.... Read More
Linh Dinh
About Linh Dinh

Born in Vietnam in 1963, Linh Dinh came to the US in 1975, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). He has been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, among other places. He is also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (2006). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. His writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and he has been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Reykjavik, Toronto and all over the US, and has also published widely in Vietnamese.