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This article is about the n+1 literary journal. For information about high availability models, see N+1 redundancy.
N+1 (magazine cover).jpg
Managing Editor Carla Blumenkranz
Categories culture, literature, politics
Frequency Triannually
Founder Keith Gessen, Benjamin Kunkel, Mark Greif, Chad Harbach, and Marco Roth
First issue 2004
Country United States
Based in Brooklyn, NY
Language English
Website nplusonemag.com

n+1 is a New York–based American literary magazine that publishes social criticism, political commentary, essays, art, poetry, book reviews, and short fiction. It is published three times each year, and content is published on its website several times each week. Each print issue averages around 200 pages in length.


n+1 began in the Fall of 2004, the project of Keith Gessen, Benjamin Kunkel, Mark Greif, Chad Harbach, and Marco Roth. The magazine, described by Gessen as "like Partisan Review, except not dead," was launched out of a feeling of dissatisfaction with the current intellectual scene in the United States, with the editors citing The Baffler, Hermenaut, and the early years of Partisan Review as inspiration for their magazine.[1] Each of those magazines embodied the age where the little magazine was a veritable institution and a major centre of innovation in arts and politics.

Their outlook is most frequently summed up by the last lines of their first issue where Gessen proclaimed, "it is time to say what you mean.[2]" Yet in the Third Issue, critic James Wood responded to criticism of his negative criticism and, singling out this quote by Gessen, stated, "The Editors had unwittingly proved the gravamen of their own critique: that it is easier to criticize than to propose."[3]

The name n+1, conceived in a moment of frustration, comes from an algebraic expression. “Keith and I were talking,” Harbach recalls, “and he kept saying, ‘Why would we start a magazine when there are already so many out there?’ And I said, jokingly, ‘N+1’—whatever exists, there is always something vital that has to be added or we wouldn’t feel anything lacking in this world.”[4]


Their mission is somewhat informed by critical theory, to which they readily admit the attraction and limitations. In an article on theory, the editors said, "The big mistake right now would be to fail to keep faith with what theory once meant to us." [5]

Their stance embraces theory but keeps a careful distance from the academicization of theory: "Theory is dead, and long live theory. The designated mourners have tenure, anyway, so they’ll be around a bit. As for the rest of us, an opening has emerged, in the novel and in intellect. What to do with it?" In this vein, they make frequent references to the Frankfurt School, often criticize the commodification of culture, and speak positively of writers such as Don DeLillo.


Each issue of n+1 opens with a section called The Intellectual Situation,[6] which criticizes aspects of the current intellectual scene. For example, in the first issue, they called McSweeney's a "regressive avant-garde."[7] They have also criticized The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, and literary figures such as Dale Peck. This is followed by a short Politics section. Most of each issue consists of fiction and essays. Issues then close with a review section, which consists of reviews of books, intellectual figures, and pop phenomena.

Critical response to n+1[edit]

The magazine has received mixed criticism to date. Generally, n+1's detractors are irked by the editors' youth and perceived elitism. As the magazine is purportedly an effort to engage a generation in a struggle against the current literary landscape, such elitism seems counterintuitive to the ideals upon which the magazine was founded. The New Criterion critically asked, "is your journal really necessary?"[8] and accused them of exaggerating their own importance. The Times Literary Supplement wryly satirized Kunkel's quote, "We're angrier than Dave Eggers and his crowd," and compared that quote against their Third Issue's unsigned article about and titled Dating.[9]

Others have appreciated these very qualities, writing favorably of the boldness of the project itself and the sincerity and enthusiasm of its contributors. New York Times critic A.O. Scott commented on this in a feature article on the new wave of young, intellectual publications in a September 2005 issue of the New York Times Magazine, saying that n+1 was trying to "organize a generational struggle against laziness and cynicism, to raise once again the banners of creative enthusiasm and intellectual engagement" and that it had a feel that was "decidedly youthful, not only in [its] characteristic generational concerns — the habit of nonchalantly blending pop culture, literary esoterica and academic theory, for instance, or the unnerving ability to appear at once mocking and sincere — but also in the sense of bravado and grievance that ripples through their pages."[10]


Well known contributors include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "n+1: The Temple University Libraries Interview". 
  2. ^ They argue that their mission is to create a sense of intellectual cohesion. Kunkel said, "There's a tendency to ghettoize things that are important to us — there's fiction, there's essays and criticism, there's politics — and you can go and find journals about each of these things, but you can't go and find journals about all of those things."
  3. ^ Wood, James (2005). "A Reply to the Editors". n+1 1 (3): 129. 
  4. ^ Hodara, Susan. "Intellectual Entrepreneurs - A highbrow journal rises in an era of sound bites". Harvard Magazine. Harvard University. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Death is Not the End". n+1. Retrieved August 24, 2006. 
  6. ^ The Intellectual Situation
  7. ^ The Regressive Avant-garde
  8. ^ "The artificial gravity of n+1". Stefan Beck. Retrieved September 28, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Why We Love TLS". Mark Sarvas. Retrieved August 24, 2006. 
  10. ^ Scott, A.O. (2005-09-11). "Among the Believers". New York Times Magazine (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2006-08-24. 

External links[edit]

Commentary on n+1[edit]