paper trail

Makena Onjerika wins 2018 Caine Prize; Sheila Heti and Tao Lin on the difficulties of writing

Sheila Heti

The 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing has been awarded to Makena Onjerika for her short story “Fanta Blackcurrant. A graduate of New York University’s MFA program, Onjerika now lives in Kenya where she is working on a novel.

At Granta, Sheila Heti and Tao Lin interview each other about their books, chemical detoxing, and the difficulties of writing. “When I was younger I sort of resented that just writing wasn’t enough – that it also had to be completed to be an object of use for the world,” said Heti. “But now I think that it doesn’t even serve any internal function for myself if I don’t bring the writing to a point of finish. Only when it’s finished does the writing become a reliable friend you can count on. Until then, the writing is just like a friend who wastes your time in uninteresting texting.”

Literary Hub rounds up a list of Great American Novels written by authors who were not born in the US. “While I’d certainly agree that it would be difficult to write a novel addressing the American experience without at least living here for a while, sometimes it takes an outsider to really see the truth of something,” writes Emily Temple.

After an internal investigation into her relationship with a potential source, New York Times federal law enforcement reporter Ali Watkins is being transferred to a new beat in New York.

Hamilton Nolan implores non-union employees at the Washington Post to join the union after their dismal contract negotiations were made public. “To the half or more of Washington Post staffers who have voluntarily chosen not to be members of their own union: Look in the mirror,” Nolan writes. “Staring back at you is a person who is getting fucked by one of the richest men in the world.”

Facebook’s new commitment to be more transparent about political advertising has started to affect business owners as well as publishers. Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier reports that ads for a waxing salon, a lawn-mowing company, and a Walmart sale on baked beans have all found their way into the social media site’s political advertising archive for using the word bush. “This is a new policy and process. . . . Review and enforcement won’t be perfect,” a company representative explained. “In the meantime,” Frier notes, “it will archive and later block ads like the one that celebrated fifth-grade graduation at Barack H. Obama Elementary Magnet School of Technology in Atlanta.”