paper trail

On the work of Virginie Despentes; Lauren Michele Jackson writes about the history of critical race theory

Lauren Michele Jackson. Photo: Jorge I. Cotte

For the New Yorker, Lauren Michele Jackson writes about the history of—and current campaigns against—critical race theory. Conservatives such as Christopher Rufo have gone out of their way to make critical race theory a right-wing target. Rufo “explained that he’d gone truffle-hunting for incendiary ideas in the works of scholars such as Bell, Crenshaw, and Angela Davis, whose names he had found in the footnotes of anti-racism best-sellers.” Meanwhile, Jackson writes, liberals hoping to combat conservatives such as Rufo have “worked themselves into a corner: in attempting to defend critical race theory, they have whittled a leftward strain of scholarship into a set of innocuous talking points that, indeed, sound fit for children.”

At the LARB, Nina Herzog considers the work of Virginie Despentes, and calls the French author to talk about her recently translated Vernon Subutex trilogy. As Herzog notes: “While critics in both France and the United States flip between hailing [Despentes] as a literary heavyweight and arrogantly declaring her incapable of ever becoming a great writer, they miss the essence of her writing entirely. These conversations miss the throbbing heart of this feminist punk’s work, whose impetus is not grandeur but urgency; the goal is not literary immortality but rather the glory of living and dying in the margins, in opposition.”

Revenue at Hachette Book Group is up more than 14 percent in the first half of 2021.

Today at 5pm, Emily Bass will appear in person at Bryant Park in New York to discuss her new book, To End a Plague: America’s Fight to End AIDS in Africa, with Sheri Fink, author of Five Days at Memorial.