paper trail

Seven-year-old Bana Alabed to write memoir; Schomburg Center acquires James Baldwin's archive

James Baldwin. Photo: Allan Warren

Bana Alabed, the seven-year-old Syrian girl known for tweeting about her life in Aleppo, will publish a memoir with Simon & Schuster. Dear World will be released next fall.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has acquired James Baldwin’s archive. Director Kevin Young announced the news last night. “Even though it’s taken 30 years, it’s the perfect time,” he said. “It’s like he never left.” Baldwin’s drafts, manuscripts, and notes are all available to researchers, but his letters will not be available for another twenty years.

Journalists at DNAinfo and Gothamist have decided to unionize with the Writers Guild of America East. The decision comes after Gothamist was sold to DNAinfo, who then began initiating layoffs and deleted articles that were critical of the new owner.

Dark Money author Jane Mayer talks to the LA Times about her book, reporting, and political polarization in the US. Mayer remembered the highly-partisan backlash to her second book, Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas. “We were kind of early canaries in the coal mine in seeing what it’s like and how rough it can be when political partisans come at you,” she said. “We thought we were just documenting the facts.” Now, twenty years later Mayer says the media has become a scapegoat for America’s increasing polarization. “It’s become a kind of information warfare, and it gets the press completely caught up in the middle of it,” she said, “when all you’re trying to do is be a reporter and tell the country what’s going on.”

After recently unearthed letters written by Sylvia Plath alleged physical and emotional abuse by her husband Ted Hughes, writers are debating whether the revelations will change anything about how Plath’s poetry is read or affect Hughes’ reputation. Sarah Churchwell writes that “these letters are set to become one of the only sources of Plath’s voice we may have from the end of her life, apart from her poetry,” and may offer more insight into Plath’s marriage. Rafia Zakaria writes that even though the allegations may be true, they’re unlikely to change the way Hughes is viewed in the literary world. Zakaria offers numerous examples of other male literary figures who have had their behavior ignored, from Byron’s treatment of his wife to Robert Lowell’s violence toward Elizabeth Hardwick. “At least where male poets are considered,” she writes, “what may affectionately be called “rakish”, but is simply misogynistic and abusive, is entirely excusable.”

Tonight at Metrograph, Durga Chew-Bose hosts a screening of Barbara Loden’s 1970 film, Wanda.