paper trail

National Book Critics Circle finalists announced; Kwame Adjei-Brenyah in conversation with Roxane Gay tonight in New York

Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. Photo: Alex M. Philip. 

The National Book Critics Circle has announced its 2023 award finalists. In addition to the five finalists in six categories, Becca Rothfeld won the 2023 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, Judy Blume received the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, and American Library Association took home the Toni Morrison Achievement Award. The winners will be announced on March 21 in New York.

Tonight at Word Up bookstore in New York, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah will discuss his latest novel, Chain Gang All Stars, with Roxane Gay.

Fragile Juggernaut is a new podcast about the history and politics of the US working class. The six rotating hosts—Tim Barker, Andrew Elrod, Ben Mabie, Alex Press, Emma Teitelman, and Gabriel Winant—have partnered with Haymarket Originals to produce the podcast and have started a Patreon. In n+1, Elrod writes, “At a moment when interest in the possibilities of unions is once again on the minds of the young and in the pages of the news media, it is time to debate the legacy of the national union federation that challenged the labor movement to transform itself into a behemoth capable of shaking the halls of Washington and Wall Street.”

In the Yale Review, Victoria Baena writes about Albertine, the subject of the narrator’s obsession over hundreds of pages in Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, and a character who has inspired books by Jacqueline Rose and Anne Carson and a film by Chantal Akerman. Baena considers these works alongside new editions of the Albertine volumes recently published by Yale University Press and a forthcoming volume on the Akerman film by Christine Smallwood. Baena writes, “Marcel’s ambivalent pursuit and Albertine’s ambiguous self-making have provided both model and foil for a century of artists working in a feminist vein, each of whom has been drawn in her own way to the fugitive figure.” 

In The Nation, five authors consider the question What Does It Mean to Be Palestinian Now? and Raja Shehadeh reviews Isabella Hammad’s Novel Enter Ghost about a group of Palestinians working on a production of Hamlet. Shehadeh writes, “At every point, as Hammad details the exhausting day-to-day struggles that Palestinians have to endure, she finds humanity and complexity in their responses.”