Paper Trail

Binyavanga Wainaina has died at age 48; Naomi Wolf gets fact-checked live on the BBC

Binyavanga Wainaina

The Kenyan author and gay rights activist Binyavanga Wainaina has died. Wainaina is the author of Someday I Will Write about This Place, and made international news in 2014 when he responded to a wave of anti-gay laws in African countries by publicly outing himself in a short essay.

On Thursday last week, Naomi Wolf went on BBC Radio to discuss her book Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love, which is due to be published on June 18. The book’s premise hinges on a nineteenth-century English legal term, “death recorded.” Wolf took the term to mean a “death sentence.” But during her interview, the BBC’s Matthew Sweet pointed out that the term actually means something very different: that a convict had been pardoned for his crimes. At the Intelligencer, Yelena Dzhanova writes: “Before Sweet delivered the punch, Wolf was audibly ready to speak about the ‘several dozen’ … executions she noted in her book, many of which rely on her completely wrong understanding of the term ‘death recorded.’ But there is no historical evidence that shows anyone was ever executed for sodomy during the Victorian era, Sweet said on Twitter. Which means … much of the premise of Wolf’s entire book is just false.”

At the New Republic, Alexander Chee reads three new books about Stonewall, and goes in search of the “real story about the riots.”

Jimmy Chen has imagined what Raymond Carver’s OKCupid profile might look like after it has been edited by Gordon Lish.

Alma has posted a list of favorite books that are being published this summer.