The Rona Jaffe Foundation has announced the six recipients of the 2015 Rona Jaffe Writers’ Awards, which are given annually to emerging women writers. This year’s winners are Millions contributor Meehan Crist for nonfiction, Vanessa Hua for fiction, Ashley M. Jones for poetry, Britteney Black Rose Kapri for poetry, Amanda Rea for fiction, and Natalie Haney Tilghman for fiction. Past award winners include Eula Biss, Lan Samantha Chang, Rivka Galchen, Rebecca Lee, ZZ Packer, and Tracy K. Smith.
"Year-end lists are always subjective and incomplete, but they are especially tricky for books. A dedicated film critic can watch every wide release film and a theater critic can go to most every play, but the book critic is faced with an insurmountable mountain of books each year. The sheer number of books is inspiring as a reader, but it can make “best of” lists laughably subjective when the critic has only read a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of books published each year." This might help to explain the logic and intent of our own Year in Reading series, but it also prefaces Electric Literature's list of the top 25 story collections of 2014 (which includes recent Year in Reading alum Phil Klay's Redeployment).
“Fifty Shades of Grey follows this long history of class ascendancy via feminine wiles, but does so cleverly disguised as an edgy modern bodice-ripper,” writes Heather Havrilesky in the latest issue of The Baffler. Throughout the piece, Havrilesky explores the way luxury brand fetishism and conspicuous consumption fueled E.L. James's “female-friendly” pornography phenomenon
Recommended reading: The Awl takes a look at the "attempt to create a completely logical, absolutely universal language," which goes about as well as you'd expect (read: not very).
Recommended Reading: This jarring, surreal "amalgamation of three different pieces" on Hannah Arendt by Bobbi Lurie over at 3:AM Magazine. Arendt, herself a political theorist, would likely have appreciated this piece from The Millions on the life and afterlife of literary theory.
George Washington as you've never seen him before: First, a cartoon entitled "Cox and Combs" and second, a live action avant garde take on the founding father.