paper trail

Namwali Serpell donates prize money to support protestors of Breonna Taylor’s murder

Namwali Serpell. Photo: Peg Skorpinski

Upon learning that she had won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for her first novel, The Old Drift, the US-bazed Zambian writer Namwali Serpell announced that she would donate the prize money to the Louisville Community Bail Fund, which assists protestors of Breonna Taylor’s murder by the police. She has also pledged to split the fee for her Harper’s story “The Work of Art” with the magazine’s unpaid interns.

Print-book sales continue to grow, with unit sales 16.4 percent higher in the week that ended on September 19 than in the same week of 2019.

The Washington Post has promoted Robin Givhan, who won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 2006, to be a senior critic-at-large. Givhan, author of The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History, will “write in her trademark essayistic style about a broad range of subjects, including politics, race, business, and the arts.”

Poet Nikky Finney—author of Head Off & Split, among other books—has won the Wallace Stevens Award, presented by the Academy of American Poets for lifetime achievement. Hanif Abdurraqib received the the Academy of American Poets’ Lenore Marshall prize, which honors the best book of poetry released in the past year, for his collection A Fortune for Your Disaster.

The Los Angeles Times has revisited and apologized for an article it published in 1981, titled “Marauders From Inner City Prey on L.A.’s Suburbs.” The editors of the editorial page write: “The article, the first of a two-part series, purported to be an ambitious look at a major social problem, and it cited a lack of education and jobs as underlying causes of inner-city distress. But it also reinforced pernicious stereotypes that Black and Latino Angelenos were thieves, rapists and killers. It sensationalized and pathologized the struggles of poor families and painted residents of South L.A. with a broad brush. It quoted police and prosecutors unskeptically and implied that more aggressive policing and harsher judicial sentencing were the only effective responses to crime.” The editorial board then goes on to take a “deep look at the paper’s pages over time,” stretching back to the nineteenth century, and details the paper’s “raw exercise of power,” its eras of mostly white newsrooms, and its longtime dismissal of Black and Latino readers. “An organization should not be defined by its failures,” the editorial board writes, “but it must acknowledge them if it is to hope for a better future.”

In an online event that will take place on Tuesday at 7:30 PM EST, Marilynne Robinson will discuss her new novel, Jack, with Esmé Weijun Wang. You can purchase tickets here. Robinson’s talk is part of the Brooklyn Book Festival, which will host a number of events this week.