paper trail

The Booker Prize shortlist; Ruth Ozeki discusses her new novel “The Book of Form and Emptiness”

Ruth Ozeki. Photo: Danielle Tait

The Booker Prize shortlist has been announced. It includes novels by Patricia Lockwood, Richard Powers, Maggie Shipstead, Anuk Arudpragasam, Damon Galgut, and Nadifa Mohamed.

The Nation has hired Mohammed el-Kurd as a Palestine correspondent to cover the Israeli occupation and the Palestinain resistance. In a statement, the magazine wrote, “For too long Palestinian voices have been silenced, kept out of the US conversation simply for trying to share the Palestinian experience. We will not be intimidated into maintaining that silence.”

Erin Overbey, the New Yorker’s archive editor, has compiled public data on the lack of diversity in the magazine’s writers and coverage in a Twitter thread. For example, the magazine has never published a “Critic at Large” piece by a Black or Asian female writer. Overbey notes that over the past five years, the magazine’s web coverage has become notably more inclusive than the print issues. At NeimanLab, Laura Hazard Owen breaks down some responses to Overbey’s thread, including Michael Luo’s perspective as the New Yorker’s web editor.

At the New York Times Magazine, Carina del Valle Schorske writes a longform piece about emerging from quarantine in New York City and rediscovering dancing in public in the COVID era: “Had New Yorkers always been this beautiful, or had isolation turned my sight psychedelic? I was dazzled by all the details I couldn’t catalog.”

At Vulture, Helen Shaw profiles Zen Buddhist priest and author Ruth Ozeki, whose latest novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, will be published this month. Ozeki worked in film and TV before publishing her first book at age forty-two, after she realized that writing “is so much easier and cheaper than making a film.” Still, Ozeki’s new novel has taken her eight years to write. All her books “come heavy with lived experience and knowledge about botany, film production, religion, risk,” Shaw notes. “Her books are not didactic, but they are useful; they’re not mission-driven, but they are richly moral.”

Sally Rooney’s new novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You has garnered some sharp critical attention from Caleb Crain, Jennifer Wilson, Christian Lorentzen, and Brandon Taylor. In the New Republic, Wilson notes Rooney’s frustration with the novel form and observes how that feeling plays out in how the characters’ express self-consciousness: “Beautiful World, Where Are You is always reminding you that it is a work of literary fiction, and its characters are continually asking one another, and by extension the reader, what the point of all this boy talk is, which is another way of asking: What is the point of reading any Sally Rooney novel?”