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What does it mean to be a man?

A crop of recent novels tackle changing attitudes to masculinity

Father holding his newborn baby girl

In 2011 the feminism issue of the literary magazine Granta featured “Night Thoughts,” a satirical story by Helen Simpson, in which a teacher lies awake fretting about his workload at home as well as at school. Reversing the stereotyped roles, his wife—snoring obliviously—leaves mess everywhere and has nothing to do with child care. She is boorish and even violent but if her husband objects, she sulks: he has learnt not to threaten her “feminine pride” and to see…

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