Many feared the permanent loss of thousands of precious manuscripts and relics after insurgents razed Timbuktu’s Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research. The Institute was home to over 30,000 manuscripts dating back to the 13th century. Or was it? In a fascinating report, Rukmini Callimachi details the extraordinary efforts of the some passionate locals that wound up saving much of the collection.
“He was a sassy youngster…[A]s to burning the epistle up or not—it never occurred to me to do anything at all: what the hell did I care whether he was pertinent or impertinent? he was fresh, breezy, Irish: that was the price paid for admission—and enough: he was welcome!” Turns out Walt Whitman and Bram Stoker were pen pals.
The movie adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time premiered this week. Before or after you see the movie (there are some spoilers if you haven’t seen it or read the book) read this essay by Alanna Bennett on the simple, but revolutionary power of the story and Ava DuVernay’s book-to-screen vision.
If you haven’t gotten enough of literary New York quite yet, here’s what the Guardian (UK) thinks you should be reading about “the American dream concretised in a shimmering mirage, the burgeoning metropolis of hope built on foundations of money, drugs and exploitation.” Less judgmentally, Grantland’s Kevin Nguyen focuses on two new books set in Queens, recommending High As the Horses’ Bridles by The Millions’ own Scott Cheshire, which is no Brooklyn hipster novel: his opening scene (“among the finest published this year”) has a 12-year-old offering a prophecy of Armageddon.
“And journalists, the ones who do it for a living, will continue to have their faith in the profession shaken, as they panic and let their own standards slip in order not to be embarrassed by Reddit at 2:43 in the morning. But unlike high-frequency traders, Internet entrepreneurs, and online vigilantes, journalists have a stake in those standards, which are the only reason for having professionals do the job.” Fast news, Twitter, and journalism in the digital age.