The Power of Three
Sorry for the poverty of the title but I couldn't think of anything suitable to point to three good recent online articles:
The New York Times features William Grimes' short essay but perceptive essay "Rediscovering Alexander Herzen" :
"Herzen regarded the world with a cool, ironic eye. It is the source of his comedy. But he burned with a sense of the world’s injustices. His denunciations of the bourgeoisie match Marx for vituperative heat."
Also from the New York Times is Adam Hochschild's review of Toussaint Louvertue, the biography of the key figure in the rebellion by Haiti's slaves in 1791 by Madison Smartt Bell:
Lastly, from Bookforum comes a thoughtful profile of Paul Auster by James Gibbon:
"Auster is a writer who graphs out his themes and patterns rather than exploding them in dazzling pyrotechnic outbursts. If his books are sometimes careful to leave a residue of ambiguity after one finishes them, they nevertheless exhibit an overall tidiness of scope and technique. In Auster's corpus, there are no admirable "ambitious failures" so characteristic of the past century of modernist and postmodernist writers, books whose shortcomings seem compensated by their authors' outsize or quixotic intentions. His novels are either executed successfully or they're not, case closed."