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The 2021 Whiting Award winners; a new biography of Lorraine Hansberry

Joshua Bennett. Photo: Rog Walker.

The 2021 Whiting Award winners have been announced. The honorees will each receive a $50,000 prize to support their work in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama, and this year include Tope Folarin, Joshua Bennett, Xandria Phillips, Marwa Helal, among others.

For the fifteenth anniversary of the New York Times Book Review podcast, editor Pamela Paul selects fifteen of her favorite episodes.

Melissa Gira Grant, a staff writer at the New Republic, and the author of Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work, has sold a new book. A Woman Is Against the Law will be published by Little, Brown.

In the Times, Parul Sehgal reviews Soyica Diggs Colbert’s new biography of Lorraine Hansberry: “To quote Simone de Beauvoir, an important influence, Hansberry could not think in terms of joy or despair ‘but in terms of freedom.’ And she could not think of freedom as a destination but as a practice, full of intervals, regressions.”

At Vulture, Angelica Jade Bastién’s epic takedown of the Amazon TV series Them calls the show “pure degradation porn.” Bastién writes of the “compounded trauma” of watching the show while processing the news of the killing of Daunte Wright by police: “It doesn’t induce empathy or the desire for abolition in white folks. It doesn’t force others to consider the anti-Blackness they perpetuate. If anything, it lets modern white people off the hook, providing extremes with which they can distance themselves from their own racism.”

“Before I start reading a book by Clarice Lispector, I always go off somewhere I can be alone, and I don’t check my phone or do anything else until the final page. I prefer to read her from start to finish, without interruption. Her novels are something I want to undergo, like a spiritual exercise.” The New York Review of Books has published an excerpt of Sheila Heti’s afterword to Clarice Lispector’s newly translated 1949 novel, An Apprenticeship.

Mark your calendars: On May 18, historian Elizabeth Hinton will discuss her new book, American on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s, with Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. For Metropole, Simon Balto reviews the book, writing, “What emerges most clearly across the whole of the book is an urgent history of today, and I here mean today quite literally, writing against the backdrop of the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd and a new wave of rebellion in the Minneapolis area less than a week after the police killing of twenty-year-old Daunte Wright.”