paper trail

Namwali Serpell on Janicza Bravo’s 2020 film “Zola”; “BOMB” magazine closes Pride month with a selection from their archives

Namwali Serpell. Photo: © Peg Skorpinski

BOMB magazine has put together a selection of pieces from their archives to celebrate Pride month, with contributions from Cookie Mueller, Gary Indiana, and Brontez Purnell, interviews with Audre Lorde, Hilton Als, and Féliz Gonzáles-Torres, reflections on the Orlando nightclub shooting, art and the body, and much more. 

At the New York Review of Books, Namwali Serpell considers “the figure of the Whore” in art and literature, from Emile Zola’s Nana to Janicza Bravo’s 2020 film Zola. “Wherever she appears,” Serpell writes, “she’s pressed into service as a rhetorical or symbolic conceit. It is this insistent mediation of whoredom that interests me, the way she seems always to be a medium between things, or for something else.” Discussing the Twitter thread by A’Ziah “Zola” King on which the film Zola is based, Serpell argues that “with the Internet, the Whore has found her medium at last.”

Astra magazine has published an essay by Som-Mai Nguyen about “ethnic credibility” and authority, Vietnamese literature, and how diasporic literature is discussed and publicized in the Anglophone world. “Work by non-White, non-anglophone, and/or non-Western writers deserves the respect of rigorous, sensitive, specifically equipped criticism and publicity,” Nguyen writes, “not just rubber-stamps from celebrities that usher them into legible categories based on biographical bullet points.”

In a review of Eyal Press’s Dirty Work and Phil Jones’s Work without the Worker for the London Review of Books, Katrina Forrester writes about exploitative work, automation, and microwork. “It may be that we owe it to these workers to abolish their work—making it visible isn’t enough.” 

In the New York Times Magazine, a group of writers including Danzy Senna, Xochitl Gonzalez, Hernan Diaz, Claire Messud, Eileen Myles, and Darryl Pinckney recommend some of their favorite New York City novels.