paper trail

Julian Assange's contradictions; Zadie Smith on being biracial in America

Zadie Smith

The New York Times has hired Kathleen Kingsbury as deputy editorial page editor. Kingsbury was most recently the digital managing editor at the Boston Globe, and will start at the Times in August.

BuzzFeed has released a secret government report that shows Chelsea Manning’s intelligence leaks were “largely insignificant and did not cause any real harm to US interests.”

Sue Halpern reviews Risk, Laura Poitras’s new documentary on Julian Assange. Although the film was initially conceived as a “hero’s journey,” in the end Assange’s many contradictions turned the film into “something more critical, complicated, and at best ambivalent about the man,” Halpern writes. “Yet ambivalence is the most honest thing about the film. It is the emotion Assange often stirs up in those who support the WikiLeaks mission but are disturbed by its chief missionary.”

At Harper’s Magazine, Zadie Smith reflects on Jordan Peele’s Get Out, the artwork at the Whitney Biennial, and being a biracial in modern America. “To be biracial at any time is complex,” Smith writes. “Speaking for myself, I know that racially charged historical moments, like this one, can increase the ever-present torsion within my experience until it feels like something’s got to give. You start to yearn for absolute clarity: personal, genetic, political.”

Lorraine Berry talks to Julia Fierro about the election, cultural appropriation, and her new book, The Gypsy Moth Summer. The novel follows a woman who returns to her white, upper-class hometown on Long Island with her black husband and biracial children. For Fierro, who is white, this felt like a risky but necessary choice. “I don’t think that we can talk about class without talking about race and the intersection of the two,” she said. Fierro also spoke about the need for authors writing from the different perspectives to be open to critique. “We need to write what we need to write,” she said, “but we should be aware that we are going to be criticized for it and be open to the criticism.”

At The Guardian, Jake Nevins tries to learn something about the current administration from Newt Gingrich’s new book, Understanding Trump. Unfortunately, Nevins writes, while the book doesn’t “exactly help us ‘understand Trump,’” it does “offer a look into the rhetorical acrobatics one might employ to defend the indefensible.