paper trail

Rachel Dolezal and the construction of race

James Fenton

Rachel Dolezal, an NAACP leader who has been accused of posing as African-American, stepped down yesterday, and will today give several TV interviews. In the New York Times magazine, a historian explores earlier examples of such “reverse passing;” and on his blog, Lenin’s Tomb, Richard Seymour asks “the interesting question”: “Why is race so resilient despite being so malleable, and despite having no fundamental reality outside of power?”

The poet James Fenton has won this year’s PEN Pinter Prize, set up in memory of Harold Pinter in 2009. The judges included the playwright’s widow, Antonia Fraser, who praised Fenton’s “brilliant political poetry,” and were chaired by Maureen Freely, who said that “in this age of privatised art, it is increasingly rare for writers to retain this degree of public commitment.”

Durga Chew-Bose, Jazmine Hughes, and the others behind—a new database where you can search for writers by area of expertise and by location—are tired of editors’ excuses: “We don’t want to hear ‘I can’t find any’ ever again, okay?”

Today is Bloomsday, which, according to Robert Berry, illustrator of a digital graphic novel version of Joyce’s Ulysses, who’s celebrating it in Hong Kong this year, is “still the only holiday to celebrate a single work of fiction.”

The Observer is amused by Apple’s attempt to recruit journalists for its news app—what’s required, as so often in the contemporary workplace, seems to be “the mind of a human with the reliability of a machine.”

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, an interview with Jessica Hopper about Courtney Love investing in her fanzine when she was in the eleventh grade, and about her new book, which bears the not-entirely-accurate-but-still-accurate-enough-to-be-dispiriting title The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic.