The philosopher Peter Singer compares the way most of us live to seeing a child drowning in a shallow pond and declining to save him so as not to muddy our clothes. Even if we don’t see a child in danger, if we spend $200 on shoes that could have bought life-saving medicine, we’re still responsible for a death. Most people either don’t believe this or can’t imagine what their lives would look like if they did — how can you live measuring every action by its effect on dying children? Larissa MacFarquhar will tell the story of a young utilitarian couple who do believe it, and live their lives accordingly.
Larissa MacFarquhar has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998. Her subjects have included John Ashbery and Edward Albee, among many others. Before joining The New Yorker, she was a senior editor at Lingua Franca and an advisory editor at The Paris Review. Larissa MacFarquar lives in Brooklyn, New York.