If you want to read a book with obscenity in it in Russia after July 1, you’ll find it in a sealed package with a warning label. The law is the latest in Vladimir Putin’s censorship crusade and also bans swearing in films and live performance. Interestingly, the banned words are still up for the debate by the Ministry of Culture. At The New Yorker, David Remnick discusses just how unique and diverse the Russian language’s profanity is.
The New York Times dives into why prisons fear the New Jim Crow certain states have gone to great efforts to allow their prisons to ban it and in other states it’s fairly difficult to obtain if you’re a prisoner. We’re big fans of the New Jim Crow here; it was a Millions staff pick and extremely popular on Year in Reading lists back in 2013.
The novelist Julie Schumacher wrote her latest, Dear Committee Members, entirely in the form of letters of recommendation. The format allowed her to illustrate the travails of a creative writing professor through a medium often ignored in fiction. At The Awl, Jessica Gross and Merve Emre talk about the novel. Pair with: Cathy Day on academia’s novel crisis.
Following up her post about Judy Blume’s Forever, our own Lydia Kiesling writes about Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita for PEN American Center’s ongoing series for Banned Books Month. It’s a book, Kiesling writes, which serves as an “exhibition of a uniquely talented person at the zenith of his powers.” (This isn’t the first time she’s discussed the book, by the way.)
Wallace Shawn has written a new play, and it’s unsettling to watch. In it, a group of wealthy, middle-aged party hosts reveal their roles in a dystopian future, where political murders, random beatings and censorship are all commonplace. In an essay for The New York Review of Books, Francine Prose reviews the play in the context of Shawn’s other works.