paper trail

Kiese Laymon on the American memoir; Masha Gessen wins 2018 Hitchens Prize

Kiese Laymon

At LitHub, Brandon Taylor talks to Kiese Laymon about family, trauma, and his new book, Heavy. “I thought I was initially writing a weight-loss memoir. I wrote that memoir. It was corny, sentimental and terrible. Then I wrote what I always wanted to write,” Laymon said. “I wanted to write a memoir that critiqued the American memoir, while playing with time, while directly addressing my mama, while talking about how words and sounds kept so many of our black southern selves alive and questioning, while refusing the trap of deliverance, while lifting up and looking under my particular black southern family. I wanted to not be afraid of our bodies any more. I did a lot of what I wanted. Not everything. But a lot.”

Masha Gessen has won the 2018 Hitchens Prize, an annual award for writers “who, in the spirit of the late Christopher Hitchens, demonstrates a commitment to free expression and to the pursuit of truth without regard to personal or professional consequence.” In a statement, the judging committee explained that Gessen was selected for the “urgent warning against authoritarian impulses” found throughout her work.

Journalists working for Civil-sponsored news organizations say that the company has failed to pay them the CVL cryptocurrency tokens that they were promised as part of their compensation packages. Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton explains the dispute, and notes that employees are still receiving their agreed-upon cash salaries.

Farhad Manjoo has been hired as the New York Times’s newest opinion columnist. Manjoo was most recently a columnist for the paper’s business section.

At Granta, Ian Maleney talks to Prix Goncourt winner Mathias Enard about borders, representation, and the idea of home.

Jennifer Schuessler talks to New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast about her retrospective at SVA Chelsea, deadlines, and why city life inspires her work more than her current home in rural Connecticut. “I like to draw out of my head, and I can draw interiors until the cows come home,” she explains. “I don’t even know what you put in a woods. There’s like five things: trees, branches, stones — What else? Maybe squirrels? I’ll have to leave that to people with more woods-imagination.”