paper trail

2020 Guggenheim Fellows announced; Eugene Lim on the cognitive dissonance of technology

Sigrid Nunez. Photo: Nancy Crampton

This year’s Guggenheim Fellows were announced yesterday. Literary Hub has a list of all the writers who received a grant this year, including Rebecca Mead, Yiyun Li, Sigrid Nunez, and more.

Italian publishers and writers are rushing to publish books about the country’s coronavirus epidemic. Some authors, like essayist Paolo Giordano, wrote books in less than a month, while others have added new chapters and moved up publication dates for books that were scheduled to come out later this year. “Italy is a laboratory. Think of the singalongs from the balconies or the celebrities’ concerts on Zooms — they started here and spread to other countries,” explained Il Foglio film and book critic Andrea Minuz. “We were the first to have coronavirus books and will export that, too.”

Vox and Recode are asking readers for donations in order to make up for the loss of ad revenue during the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike the company’s other brands, like The Cut and New York magazine, the two websites do not have paywalls.

“I think we’re in a state of perpetual cognitive dissonance where, on one hand, there’s a technological utopia promised by the internet-in-our-pockets and deep-dish pizza delivered by drones. And on the other hand there’s a growing sense of alienation, anxiety, the rise of authoritarianism and racism, and the slow apocalypse of climate change,” Eugene Lim said in a roundtable discussion with Elvia Wilk, Ted Chiang, and Ken Liu on technology, speculative fiction, and the future at Ssense. “Maybe this intense 50-50 divide in our political system, as reproduced in the cracked mirror of social media, might be less one created by fake news and propaganda than simply an honest reflection of our imperilled selves—half good and half evil. May we be smart enough to save ourselves from ourselves.”

At the New York Times, R. O. Kwon reflects on grief, social distancing, and allowing ourselves to mourn. “Coronavirus grief is already a vast, monstrous grief, its reach and breadth expanding daily. It’s also a collective grief, a worldwide loss that — physically isolated though many of us have to be — a lot of other people are, in one way or another, also mourning,” she writes. “I hope, in this extraordinarily difficult time, to be better than I’ve been at letting myself mourn.”