paper trail

Dozens of authors ask Oprah to reconsider including American Dirt in her book club; Tishani Doshi on universal stories

Tishani Doshi. Photo: Carlo Pizzati

The New York Times Book Review looks at the most anticipated books to be published in February. Highlights include Emily Nemens’s The Cactus League, Gish Jen’s The Resisters, and Jenny Offill’s Weather.

At Literary Hub, eighty-two writers have signed an open letter asking Oprah Winfrey to remove Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt from her book club. “Writing fiction is essentially impossible to do without imagining people who are not ourselves. However, when writing about experiences that are not our own, especially when writing about the experiences of marginalized people, still more especially when these lived experiences are heavily politicized, oppressed, threatened, and disbelieved . . . the writer’s duty to imagine well, responsibly, and with complexity becomes even more critical,” they write. “But good intentions do not make good literature, particularly not when the execution is so faulty, and the outcome so harmful.”

At Recode, Peter Kafka reflects on BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith’s move to the New York Times.

The Reading Women podcast talks to Tishani Doshi about India, universal stories, and her new novel, Small Days and Nights. “I’m glad that it has had the potential to travel because part of the reason, or part of the motivation, of the story itself is to insist in some way that those stories about the small place can have larger representations and impacts, and they can speak for more than just what they initially start out as feeling like,” she said of her book, which has been published in India, the UK and the US. “A story about one woman and her life. . . . Can that be a national story? Can that be something that says anything about a country? . . . I’m excited about how readers in different parts of the world can connect to that.”

Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez has been returned to her job after being suspended for tweets about Kobe Bryant after his death, Deadline reports. “Washington Post journalists endeavor to live up to the paper’s mission statement, which states, ‘The newspaper shall tell ALL the truth so far as it can learn it, concerning the important affairs of America and the world,’” Sonmez said in a statement. “My suspension, and [executive editor Marty] Baron’s Jan. 26 email warning me that my tweets about a matter of public record were ‘hurting this institution, have unfortunately sown confusion about the depth of management’s commitment to this goal.”