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Patricia Lockwood on Elena Ferrante and irrational hatred; 2021 PEN America Literary Awards finalists

Patricia Lockwood

At the London Review of Books, Patricia Lockwood reviews Elena Ferrante’s latest novel, The Lying Life of Adults, and outlines the terms of being one of her devoted readers: “Ferrante is yours not when you love all of her books without exception, but when you hate a few of them irrationally, almost as enemies of your happiness.” For example, Lockwood despises Giovanna, the protagonist of Ferrante’s latest novel, on sight. “It is a gift,” Lockwood writes, “to be capable of inducing this physical irritation with fictional bodies, movements, motives; to make a reader want to pinch a character just to see her jump, to disarrange unreal hair, slap the face of a non-existent daughter, steal a doll from a strange child.”

For Columbia Journalism Review, Michael Waters writes about queer coding, personal advertisements, Bachelor magazine, and other publications of the covertly queer media of the 1920s and 1930s. Queer readers of this era participated in a sort of “hijaking” of mainstream tabloids—which ran exposés damning queer nightlife—“to figure out which parties were worth attending.” Historian George Chauncey notes that one paper’s articles “were so well informed and accurate in their coverage of the gay scene that many of them were almost surely written by lesbians or gay men.”

This morning, PEN America announced the finalists for their 2021 literary awards. Among the finalists for assorted prizes are Akwaeke Emezi, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Raven Leilani, Vivian Gornick, and Sudhir Hazareesingh.

Jazmine Hughes considers Kink, a new collection of stories edited by novelists R. O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell with contributions from Callum Angus, Alexander Chee, Chris Kraus, Brandon Taylor, and more. It’s “not quite erotica,” Hughes writes. “Ostensibly, it’s more about the transformative nature of kink as a practice, and the different modalities—kink as anticipation, as communication, as processing, as a mind-eraser, as an anchor, as a code, as freedom—it can unleash.”

Thursday night, n+1 is hosting an event with Nan Z. Da, Elaine Auyoung, and Jane Hu discussing Da’s essay “Disambiguation, a Tragedy.”