paper trail

Saidiya Hartman on archives and state power; The New York Review of Books drops paywall through Election Day

Saidiya Hartman. Photo: © John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Used with permission (cropped).

Alexis Okeowo profiles Saidiya Hartman and looks at the imaginative leaps taken in her book Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, which recently won the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism, rather than fiction or nonfiction. “Fact is simply fiction endorsed with state power,” Hartman told Okeowo, discussing the limits of the archive in telling stories of enslaved people. “Are we going to be consigned forever to tell the same kinds of stories? Given the violence and power that has engendered this limit, why should I be faithful to that limit? Why should I respect that?”

Alexandra Alter looks at the popularity of a debut novel by a Scottish fashion designer: Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain, which is nominated for the Booker Prize and the National Book Award. Stuart sees the novel as a love story; the book is dedicated to his mother and draws from his own childhood.

The New York Review of Books’ website redesign, launched earlier this week with their election issue, comes with a paywall drop: the current issue and more than 20,000 archived articles will be freely available through November 3.

At 4Columns, Lauren Michele Jackson writes about Garrett Bradley’s new documentary Time, which follows Sibil Fox Richardson’s work toward the release of her husband from Louisiana State Penitentiary. Robert was sentenced to sixty years—“an absurd length of time”—for a botched bank robbery committed in 1999. Bradley’s documentary omits timestamps in favor of a non-chronological assemblage approach, which “makes plain the highly collaborative nature of the filmmaking.” Sibil Fox Richardson, “no one’s specimen,” Jackson writes, “has been constructing the proper frame for her family’s story for decades.”

Rick Perlstein, historian of American conservatism and author of Reaganland, and Leon Neyfakh, host of the podcast Fiasco, join Matthew Sitman and Sam Adler-Bell on their podcast, Know Your Enemy. Perlstein and Neyfakh discuss the battle over public school integration in 1970s Boston, the rise of Ronald Reagan, right-wing rhetoric and white backlash.