It’s the most wonderful time of the year indeed. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and, once you’re done with the turkey-guzzling goodness, it’s practically Christmas. For anyone in New York this November, there are plenty of extra reasons to be joyful. The city’s cultural calendar is jammed full: from provocative documentaries to one of jazz’s new pioneers, we pick out some of the highlights.

see this: Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait

An Unfolding Portrait by Louise Bourgeois. Photo: Louise Bourgeois/ MoMA

Anyone visiting New York this month must make the effort to check out Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait (MoMA, $25, until 28 Jan). The exhibition spotlights seven decades worth of prints, etchings and installations by the French-American artist who gained worldwide acclaim for her formidable spider sculptures. Expect musings on motherhood and femininity, and don’t be shocked to see one of Bourgeois’ eight legged creatures dominating the Marron Atrium. Arachnophobes steer clear.


hear this: Harmony of Difference by Kamasi Washington

A Harmony of Difference by Kamasi Washington, album cover. Photo: Park Blvd Records Young Turks

Following the release of his majestic new EP, Harmony of Difference, Kamasi Washington is heading back to New York (Terminal 5, $35, 22 Nov). The virtuoso saxophonist and bandleader rose to prominence following his contributions to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. Since then, he’s gone from strength to strength, and here he’ll be showcasing his own sprawling and emotive compositions. It’s sure to be a riotous evening, and a poignant reminder that jazz remains a relevant and progressive artform.


watch this: DOC NYC

Thomas Sung, the founder of Abacus Federal Savings Bank, in the documentary “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.” Photo: Sean Lyness /PBS Distribution/ New York Times

November welcomes the eighth edition of DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary film festival. There’s loads of great stuff to see, including 12th and Clairmount (Cinepolis Chelsea, $19, 16 Nov) – a powerful exploration of the Detroit Riots – and Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (Cinepolis Chelsea, $19, 15 Nov), the latest offering from Hoop Dreams director Steve James. Can’t make it to the cinema? Spend the evening in bed with Annie Hall ? Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning ode to New York has just celebrated its 40th birthday: once you’ve revisited it, a stroll around the Upper East Side feels even more magical. Lobster, anyone?


read this: 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster

Partial book cover of 4321 by Paul Auster. Photo: The Times

By now, we’ve surely all heard of the butterfly effect. But, Paul Auster’s latest novel – 4 3 2 1 – takes things a little further. Protagonist Archie Ferguson’s four selves diverge at birth, leading to four dramatically contrastive experiences of childhood and adolescence. At almost 900 pages – and with four interwoven narratives – it can prove a demanding read, but Auster’s elegant prose and emphasis on historical intricacy makes it more than worthwhile. It’s a fascinating snapshot of America in the 50’s and 60’s, and possibly Auster’s most compelling work since The New York Trilogy.


do this: Junk


Junk on stage. Photo: Jim Carmody

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Ayad Akhtar returns to Broadway with Junk (Vivian Beaumont Theater, from $77, until 7 Jan), a morality play of sorts firmly rooted in Wall Street of the 1980s. Steven Pasquale leads the cast as investment banker Robert Merkin: his attempted takeover of a steel company provides the canvas upon which the drama plays out.


get inspired by this: Good Fences Make Good Neighbours


And while you’re around town, keep an eye out for installations from Ai Weiwei’s Good Fences Make Good Neighbours (free, until 11 Feb). In collaboration with the Public Art Fund, the activist and artist has erected structures across New York to foster conversation about global migration and social divisions. There are wonderful works all over town, but the gilded cage at the entrance to Central Park might just be our favourite.  


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