• June 8, 2017

    Naomi Alderman’s The Power has won the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction. Her book, which is set in a future world “where women and girls can kill men with a single touch,” is the first science fiction work to win the prize.

    The New York Times talks to Alan Pasqua, the pianist whose “jazzy piano chords” accompanied Bob Dylan’s Nobel lecture. Pasqua had played piano on two of Dylan’s albums in the 1970s, but had not performed with the Nobel laureate since. When he first heard from Dylan’s manager about the accompaniment, Pasqua did not know it would be for the Nobel speech. “All I knew at that point is that it was a spoken-word thing that Bob was doing,” he said.

    At Jacobin, Justin Slaughter looks at the current administration’s refusal to acknowledge global warming, comparing Donald Trump to Moby-Dick’s Captain Ahab. As C.L.R. James wrote in his book Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways, Captain Ahab’s ideas, feelings, and needs “become the standard by which reality is tested and whatever does not fit into that must be excluded.” Slaughter points out that the current president operates in a similar mode. “Anything that doesn’t fit—from crowd size and negative polls to carbon dioxide emissions rising above four hundred parts per million or physical manifestations of global climate change like floods, droughts, and famines—must be ‘fake news.’”

    Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing the script for a new film by director Ryan Coogler. Based on the New Yorker article of the same name by Rachel Aviv, Wrong Answer tells the story of teachers at an Atlanta middle school who changed answers on students’ standardized tests in order to meet No Child Left Behind standards and receive necessary funding.

    Denis Johnson

    At n+1, Justin Taylor reflects on the “profound spiritual and moral vision” found in Denis Johnson’s work. Taylor looks at the troubled characters found throughout the late author’s books and stories, and finds a compassion built from philosophy, religion, and faith. “Johnson saved his deepest empathy for those whose Hells were wholly self-made,” Taylor writes. “He knew that to be both the perpetrator and the victim was to suffer twice.”