Paper Trail

Novelist Paul Auster has died; media coverage of the student movement for Palestine

The 2024 Pulitzer Prize winners have been announced. The Pulitzer Board gives this year’s Special Citations to the late critic and musician Greg Tate (1957–2021) and to journalists covering the war in Gaza. 

At the New Republic, Alex Shephard writes about the disingenuous media coverage of the antiwar protests on college campuses. Coverage focused on campus politics obscures the reality that “at the core of the protests is a rejection of America’s continued role as the principal backer of a nation that has killed tens of thousands of innocents with no end in sight,” Shepard writes. “In this sense, protesters also demand a shift in America’s role in the world itself.”

For The Nation, Dylan Saba also discusses the student movement: “Contrary to the preferred media narratives, left-wing views spread among students not through social contagion nor through professorial indoctrination. Rather, it is through the often new experience of confronting institutional power with sensible, morally obvious demands—such as, for instance, the demand that your university cut financial ties to a country carrying out a genocide—and being rebuffed, repressed, and ostracized in return, that young people develop critical worldviews.”

Novelist, poet, screenwriter, and memoirist Paul Auster has died at the age of seventy-seven at his home in Brooklyn. Auster was the author of over thirty books, including City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room, three novels written in the 1980s that comprise his “New York Trilogy.” In his 2003 Paris Review “Art of Fiction” interview, Auster described the moment in the late 1970s when he stopped writing poetry and turned to the novel: “I think it happened at the moment when I understood that I didn’t care anymore, when I stopped caring about making Literature. I know it sounds strange, but from that point on writing became a different kind of experience for me and when I finally got going again after wallowing in the doldrums for about a year, the words came out as prose. The only thing that mattered was saying the thing that needed to be said.”

At Fast Company, A. S. Hamrah writes about Jerry Seinfeld’s Unfrosted and the rise of the corporate product movie. In 2023 alone, five films about the making of a consumer product (Air Jordans, the Blackberry, Beanie Babies, Cheetos, and the game Tetris) were made. “Houses must be mortgaged in these movies,” Hamrah writes, “presentations fumbled to better speak from the heart without notes. Janitor carts roll through all-night work sessions, phones get smashed in anger, and little children, the wisest of all, finally offer that eureka! moment of profound insight that unlocks the whole damn thing.”