Claudia Rakine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, which won the Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and was included in our own list of “Nine Books for the Post-Ferguson Era,” has been adapted for the stage, and previews are beginning in Los Angeles. Graywolf, the independent press behind Citizen, The Empathy Exams and On Immunity: An Inoculation, has interviewed the playwright behind the adaptation about the project and his process. As he explains it, “what makes the book—and the theatre piece—unique is that they expose and illuminate the small, sometimes unintended, and unconscious acts of everyday racism. Subtle, insidious, soul-crushing.”
Are books on the way to becoming luxury objects? At Salon, Daniel D’Addario makes a case that they are, explaining how a new aestheticism in book design points to a future in which books function mainly as art objects. (While we’re on the subject of book design, it’s a good time to look back on our U.S.-U.K. book cover battle.)
During the Cold War, the CIA became entrenched in cultural life through an organization named, ironically enough, the Congress for Cultural Freedom. In order to fight communism, they funded socialist artists. The Awl has compiled a list of literary journals, including the Kenyon Review and The Paris Review, that were once supported by the CIA.
Planning on writing a prison scene? Worried your characters might sound a bit unrealistic? Then see if you can get your hands on the Bonne Terre dictionary. Written by inmates at a prison in Louisiana, the dictionary includes such idiosyncratic terms as “boat,” meaning a plastic bed, and “pumpkin,” meaning a new inmate.
For those among us who have missed the eighties, from now until November 8th, Esquire magazine is hosting a special pop-up edition of SPY, that late-millennial stalwart of satirical journalism. Co-founder (and novelist) Kurt Andersen said he was moved to bring the magazine back because “lots more people, pretty much every day, said to me, ‘SPY really needs to be rebooted, if only just for the election.'”
If it’s election satire you want, we highly recommend our own Jacob Lambert‘s literary cagematch: Hemingway vs. Faulkner vs. Trump.
Out this week: The Idiot by Elif Batuman; One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel; Before the War by Fay Weldon; Swimmer Among the Stars by Kanishk Tharoor; and White Tears by Hari Kunzru. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
“I really do hate the idea that black joy itself is a joy derived in spite of. While it may indeed include that, limiting it to such assumes that joy among black people only exists as a defiant response to oppression from white people. I’d rather believe that black folk are capable of this deep supernatural sense without having to be enslaved or disenfranchised.” For the Boston Review, Jericho Brown on poetry and joy.