paper trail

George Orwell's "1984" should have been a warning; the "Muslim woman" does not exist; the year nonfiction ruled

Lila Abu-Lughod

As an alternative to the Queen’s annual Christmas missive, the UK’s Channel 4 aired a message from surveillance whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, warning of the dangers of a future without privacy—a future, he says, which will look and feel a lot worse than George Orwell’s 1984.

On the New York Times’ Arts Beat blog, anthropologist Lila Abu-Lughod talks about her new book, Do Muslim Women Need Saving, inspired by the (craven, spurious, cynical) argument that the US went to war in Afghanistan to free women from the Taliban and liberate them from their burqas (Abu-Lughod’s argument is more measured and scholarly than Arundhati Roy’s mischievous, feisty diatribes on much the same subject, ie: “Can we bomb our way to a feminist paradise?”). After returning to Egypt to interview women about the everyday complications of their lives, Abu-Lughod report: “There’s no such thing as the Muslim woman. We know that. It’s common sense. But somehow it’s been lost as common sense.”

A new non-profit organization in Detroit is offering free houses for writers in search of a residency or retreat.

According to the Times of India, nonfiction ruled over fiction in 2013.

In the days before Christmas, the Strand, that venerable New York City bookstore representing eighteen miles of books, reported the best sales in its eighty-six-year history, suggesting that books are not, in fact, dead. In the same last-minute shopping spree, the store also played host to at least two marriage proposals.

Has the holiday season shattered your attention span? Fear not, at Salon, some thirty writers try their hands at some very short fiction, with no story running more than two sentences long.