For The LA Review of Books, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor reviews Saidiya Hartman’s new book, Wayward Crossings, Beautiful Experiments. The book, which Taylor describes as “a radical, genre-defying examination of the lives of ‘ordinary’ young Black women” in the early 20th century, is an exercise in understanding these women’s lives without sensationalizing, idealizing, or dismissing their experiences. Hartman’s subjects, Taylor writes, are found “on the periphery of archival refuse,” and she celebrates the “black city-within-a-city” that they helped create in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago in particular. Ultimately, Hartman is interested “in the multitude of ways that Black women ‘made a way out of no way,’ whether through flight, migration, work, sex, singing, dancing, screaming, and all of the social and cultural innovation born from pure defiance and a refusal to do what you are told.”
By the age of twenty-one, Eugene O’Neill had dropped out of Princeton, fathered a child and caught syphilis on a trip through South America. He was, in his own words, “the Irish luck kid,” blessed in a strange way with misfortune. Yet he went on to win a Pulitzer eleven years later. How did he do it? In the LRB, John Lahr reads a new biography of the playwright.
This week we are delighted to announce that Kate Gavino is joining The Millions as Social Media Editor! Kate is a writer, illustrator, and creator of the website Last Night’s Reading, which was compiled into a published collection by Penguin Books in 2015. Her second book, Sanpaku, was published by BOOM! Studies in August of 2018. She most recently worked as a social media editor at Brooklyn Public Library.
The 2016 election will never truly end, at least not in the literary world. Buzzfeed noted that “a series of recent campaign books have enjoyed monster debuts, demonstrating a voracious reader appetite for behind-the-scenes looks at one of the most surprising elections in history”. And before you think this trend will end any time soon, Buzzfeed lists some up and coming titles that will be published later this year or sometime next year. “The success of campaign books come during a tough period for the publishing world, where industry sources have described the difficulty of getting authors on television or attracting media attention in a frenzied environment focused on Trump.” We’re all about the publishing industry doing well but this seems like a slightly unhealthy obsession for both readers and publishers.