paper trail

Believer Book Award winners announced; PEN World Voices Festival cancelled

Trisha Low. Photo: Kari Orvik

“These stories we make, these books we read… What do they amount to in the presence of suffering?” asks Literary Hub editor in chief Johnny Diamond. “The answer has always been the same, in good times and in bad: books are how we bear witness to life, even as they divert us from its darkest days.” The website plans to point readers to ways to support independent bookstores and authors, and is also offering personalized book recommendations.

PEN America has cancelled this year’s World Voices Festival due to COVID-19, which was supposed to take place in early May. The organization plans to reschedule headline events and is creating a new podcast “to share conversations with writers, poets, translators, thinkers, and activists on the festival theme: truth-telling in a time of rampant disinformation.”

The Believer has announced the winners of its 2019 Believer Book Awards. Ebony Flowers’s Hot Comb won for fiction, Trisha Low’s Socialist Realism won the nonfiction prize, and Deborah Landau’s Soft Targets won for poetry.

At the New York Times, Javier C. Hernández reports on the ways Chinese journalists are using COVID-19 coverage to push back against government censorship.

Adam Popescu profiles Writers Bloc, the Los Angeles reading series “that has become an important stop for politics writers.”

The Stranger, Seattle’s alt-weekly, is seeking donations in order to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper relies on events and advertising, which require “people getting together in groups,” for 90 percent of its revenue and has had to temporarily lay off eighteen staff members as a result.

At Gen, Tom Kludt explains why it’s every American’s “patriotic duty” to stay home, and why we have a hard time doing so. Kludt compares our current situation to the months after 9/11, when then-president George W. Bush urged Americans to continue shopping, traveling, and living our lives as normal. “That self-serving patriotism has now manifested itself in a crisis where it has no place and only serves to make the situation worse. Going to a bar or stadium or even Disney World might feel cathartic when facing the threat of terrorism, as if you’re flipping the bird to an enemy who wants to paralyze you with fear,” he writes. “But during a pandemic, all that middle finger will do is get more people sick.”