George Saunders has won the Man Booker prize for his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. The Guardian’s Justine Jordan writes that while the decision to give the award to two Americans in a row might bother some, Saunders’s book was the right choice for this year. “At a time when America is notably divided, the book drills down to its early rupture,” she writes. “In this book there is warmth mixed into the weirdness, moral force behind the grotesquerie, and wild humour amid the tragedy.”
Natalie Hopkinson examines the Man Booker’s dark history. The prize was founded by the Booker family, who amassed their fortune through sugar plantations and slave labor in Guyana in the early nineteenth century. After slavery was abolished, the family convinced the government to compensate slaveholders for their losses with a twenty-million pound bailout, and continued to use indentured workers. “By all means, let’s celebrate the literary excellence achieved by George Saunders and all the nominees of this year’s Man Booker Prize,” Hopkinson writes. “As we do, let’s recognize the people who have paid its price.”
At Electric Literature, Rebecca Schuh talks to Claire Messud about boundaries, perception, and her new book, The Burning Girl. The novel’s characters spend their time at an abandoned women’s asylum, a setting that Messud chose for its complicated nature. “Refugees seek asylum. It’s the same word as the insane asylum,” she explained. “But it is a sort of refuge, and for me there was some sort of metaphorical narrative too, about the girls literally going into the woods, going into their subconscious, going into a shared place of childhood play that is safe and free, and is at the same time the darkest places with this terrible history, this history of suffering.”
As the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election continues, the New York Times writes that China sees “a powerful affirmation of the country’s vision for the internet.” With anonymous accounts prohibited and many foreign news outlets blocked, China’s extreme internet censorship also makes it harder for foreign powers to mount propaganda campaigns directed at its citizens. One man “described China’s system not as ‘Big Brother’ so much as a younger brother,” protecting its siblings “from harmful material.”
Tonight at the Brooklyn Public Library, Darryl Pinckney moderates a discussion of The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick.