“I am uncomfortable in my role as witness.” Nehal El-Hadi writes for The New Inquiry about the online spectacle of black death, exploring what “Black thanatosensitive” user experience design might look like. And ICYMI: our own Ismail Muhammad on Frank Ocean and depictions of the black male body.
“In publishing, we see this play out in a number of ways. Marginalized writers are told by white editors, we need your stories now more than ever, as if we have not always needed them urgently. We are told our experiences are timely, exotic, and trendy. We are told our stories are not authentic if our characters do not suffer, as if the only way to prove that we are human is to bleed.” Natalia Sylvester on the erasure that comes when marginalized writers are constantly being told by the publishing industry and others that your book about your marginalized identity is ‘timely’.
Out this week: The Big Green Tent by Ludmila Ulitskaya; Hotels of North America by Rick Moody; A Wild Swan: And Other Tales by Michael Cunningham; Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker; and Rules for a Knight by the actor Ethan Hawke. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
“[S]he and her sister should not be affected by the riot. Riots like this were what she read about in newspapers. Riots like this were what happened to other people.” The Guardian runs ‘A Private Experience,’ a short story from Year-in-Reading alum Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
As we noted here recently about the rise and fall of Motown, the real issue was money — who earned it, who kept it, who never saw it. Now Barrett Strong, who co-wrote and sang the Detroit label’s first hit in 1959, “Money (That’s What I Want),” tells The New York Times that he never saw a penny of royalties for a song that became a classic and generated millions of dollars for the label. Strong’s story is the story of Motown boiled down to its bitter, ironic essence.
Though excellent fiction has been staged in restaurants (Richard Russo’s Empire Falls comes to mind, as well as YA novel Hope was Here), I have to admit Rebecca Makkai at Ploughshares has a point that dining-in-public scenes are getting a bit old. “All the unfolding of napkins and poking at the French fries… it’s filler.”