January 16, 2017

Svetlana Alexievich

Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich has left Russian PEN. She is joining thirty other writers in protesting PEN’s decision to expel journalist Sergey Parkhomenko after he criticized the group for not supporting a jailed Ukranian filmmaker. In her letter, Alexievich writes that the group’s decision to disavow Parkhomenko is an echo of the Stalinist era. “Putin will go, whereas this shameful page from the history of PEN will stay,” Alexievich writes. “We now live through times when we cannot win over evil, we are powerless before the ‘red man’. But he cannot stop time. I believe in that.”

Trump administration officials told Esquire that they are planning to evict the White House press corps from their White House location. Although incoming press secretary Sean Spicer said the move was being considered in order to create more space for the extra journalists assigned to cover the president, an unnamed senior official told the magazine another story: “They are the opposition party. I want ’em out of the building. We are taking back the press room.”

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Trump said that he will be keeping his personal Twitter account and will not use @POTUS. Trump explained that his decision was influenced by his large number of followers and his relationship with the press. “The tweeting, I thought I’d do less of it, but I’m covered so dishonestly by the press—so dishonestly—that I can put out Twitter—and it’s not 140, it’s now 280—I can go bing bing bing . . . and they put it on and as soon as I tweet it out,” Trump said.

After Trump said that Representative John Lewis was “all talk,” the civil rights leader’s books have become best sellers, and his memoir Walking with the Wind has sold out on Amazon.

In the New York Times, Adam Kirsch reflects on the changing relationship between truth and fiction and how it has changed in the post-fact era. Kirsch looks at readers’ increasing disinterest in fiction that presents itself as such, the increase in novels that draw directly from the life of the author, and how truth has become increasingly irrelevant. “The problem with our ‘post-truth’ politics,” Kirsh writes, “is that a large share of the population has moved beyond true and false. They thrill precisely to the falsehood of a statement, because it shows that the speaker has the power to reshape reality in line with their own fantasies of self-righteous beleaguerment. To call novelists liars is naïve, because it mistakes their intention; they never wanted to be believed in the first place. The same is true of demagogues.”

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