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NWU Represents at Community Media Advocacy Day
Albany, NY May 16 – I participated in the press conference that took place on the occasion of the Community Media Advocacy Day in Albany, NY. Below are my remarks on, “The importance of local journalism and community media.” Journalism is the Fourth pillar of democracy and plays a critical role in a civil society. […]
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The National Book Awards can help remind Americans that literature is for everyone, says Lucas. “You didn’t have to go to a certain kind of college to care about our books, you didn’t have to grow up in New York or work in publishing, you don’t have to look a certain way or love a certain kind of person.”
As the new executive director of the National Book Foundation, Lisa Lucas, AB’01, wants to get America reading.
About 1,500 titles were sent to the National Book Foundation offices to be considered for this year’s National Book Awards . It was enough to make executive director Lisa Lucas, AB’01, joke about the Collyer brothers, Depression-era hoarders who were found entombed by their own possessions. “We have a lot of books.”
The National Book Awards, established in 1950 to celebrate the best in American literature, are given annually in four categories—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature. The piles of submissions that filled the office reflect the awards’ prestige, though the winning books aren’t selected at the foundation. Lucas and her staff verify each book’s eligibility, but it’s 20 independent judges, five per category, who decide the long- and short-listed titles, and the eventual winners. They get some general guidelines from the foundation and meet with judges from the past two years to help ensure consistency in selection criteria, but other than that, it’s up to them, says Lucas.
The writers, booksellers, critics, and librarians who serve as judges are carefully selected each year. “I have such faith in our judges as one voice,” says Lucas, “informed by the weight of the honor that they bestow.” (University of Pennsylvania professor James English, AM’81, is a fiction judge.) They read all summer, and in September called Lucas with the long-listed titles. The five-title short lists were released on October 13. (The nonfiction short list includes The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez, AM’92, PhD’97.) The four winners will be announced November 16.
Lucas, who took the helm of the foundation in March after serving as publisher of literary magazine Guernica , figures she’s not always going to agree completely with the judges’ selections, but that’s OK. “The conversation for me is exciting,” says the woman the Los Angeles Times recently called a “high-energy bookish extrovert.” It means the country has more great books than the awards can recognize, books ready to reflect a reader’s own experience back, or expose them to a new world.
As an only child growing up in suburban New Jersey, Lucas saw books as “all these incredible windows into what other peoples’ lives looked like.” A Wrinkle in Time was a favorite, as were the Baby-Sitters’ Club and Sweet Valley High books (“Stuff kids were reading in the ’80s”). At the College, Herodotus’s The Histories caught her attention—it’s about a “totally different time but it felt so present.” And Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie kept her up several nights in a row, engrossed in turn-of-the-century Chicago.
The National Book Foundation runs several year-round programs designed to get people engaged with literature. The after-school BookUp helps kids start their own home libraries (books can change “young people’s lives and trajectories and opportunities,” says Lucas). Eat, Drink, and Be Literary is a reading series featuring prominent authors. “We’re not a literacy organization,” says Lucas. “What we do is joy work,” reminding people that humor, thrills, or “whatever you’re looking for can be found in those pages.” A growing number of the foundation’s programs are available outside of the New York City area—book publishers may be concentrated there, but readers aren’t, and Lucas wants to reach as many of them as possible.
Lucas sees her role as being “a big old megaphone,” getting people excited about the awards and excited about contemporary writing. That comes easy for a self-described “natural-born cheerleader” for books, who talks about her current reads every chance she gets, including to thousands of Twitter followers. She also believes being the first woman and the first person of color to lead the 67-year-old awards program will help reach more readers. “I think my brain automatically includes people who were not included,” she says. “Thinking about other audiences, broadening the awards, and figuring out how we can engage people”—that’s her job.
Doing that work, from events to marketing to her personal tweets, is what’s going to get more readers excited about the National Book Awards and talking about, and invested in, contemporary writing, says Lucas. “If you do that work throughout the entire year, then you change the audience when November 16 comes.”
Lucas uses the word “audience” a lot—she’s worked in development at Steppenwolf Theatre and the Tribeca Film Institute—and speaks admiringly of how regional theaters and independent film organizations have cultivated their audiences. “They know how to get people sitting in their seats,” she says. “They are out there singing their own praises and encouraging people to think about why their work is important.”
She’s hoping to do the same for books, partnering with literary organizations and funders to celebrate American literature, both during the National Book Awards and all year long. It’s about using the awards platform and the foundation’s name recognition to declare that books are important, says Lucas. To say that literature “helps us to be more empathetic, and to have a better relationship with our fellow Americans; it helps us to be better citizens, it helps us to think bigger in our own lives—and that’s something that’s worth making possible for as many people as we can.”
The long and short lists are available at nationalbook.org. The 2016 National Book Awards will be live streamed on the site on November 16.
The National Book Foundation has recognized many alumni authors in its almost seven decades of presenting the National Book Awards. A selection of titles that have earned an NBA sticker include The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow, EX’39, and In America by Susan Sontag, AB’51. They were fiction winners in 1954 and 2000, respectively. American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell , AB’84, was a fiction finalist in 2009; This Blue by Maureen N. McLane , PhD’97, was a poetry finalist in 2014; The Other Slavery by Andrés Reséndez, AM’92, PhD’97, is a current finalist for nonfiction.
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Valerie Boyd and Alice Walker: On the kinship and legacy of a literary union
Boyd's book, Gathering Blossoms Under Fire, consists of half a century of Walker’s journal entries from more than 65 notebooks
Illustration by Hsiao-Ron Cheng
Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker , 1965-2000 (Simon & Schuster) is the first of two books edited by Valerie Boyd that will be published posthumously in 2022. Her second, an anthology of essays, Bigger Than Bravery: Black Resilience and Reclamation in a Time of Pandemic (Lookout Books), will be released this fall.
I find the word “posthumously” difficult to write. Boyd—journalist, critic, teacher, and literary institution—died on February 12 of this year. She was only 58 years old. I first met Val (as we called her) 12 years ago when I was a relatively new writer still uncertain about my own publishing path. As she did with so many others, especially other Black and brown women writers, Val encouraged me and directed opportunities my way. While a shepherd to a large, diverse, and devoted literary flock, she still managed to produce three groundbreaking books.
Gathering Blossoms , Boyd’s second book, consists of half a century of Walker’s journal entries from more than 65 notebooks. Sifting through thousands of pages must have been a daunting task for Boyd and Walker. But the Georgia natives were kindred spirits whose partnership seemed fated—they both share a love for another Black woman author, Zora Neale Hurston.
In 1975, long after much of the literary world had forgotten about Hurston, a young Walker visited Hurston’s hometown in Eatonville, Florida, to write an article about her for Ms. magazine. (Walker chronicles this in Gathering Blossoms .) Walker’s piece, “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston,” reestablished Hurston’s present-day place in the literary canon. Nearly three decades later, in 2004, Boyd published the award-winning biography Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston , a book Walker greatly admired. In the postscript to Gathering Blossoms , Walker writes: “ Wrapped in Rainbows , [Boyd’s] perfect biography of Zora Neale Hurston, whom we both love and admire, was all the evidence I needed that she could be trusted to trim away hundreds of pages of my runaway journals and offer readers a form more easily transportable and understood.”
Walker’s papers (and, as of 2017, Boyd’s papers) and documents are housed at Emory University’s Stewart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, where they will remain out of the public view until 2040. Gathering Blossoms provides a thrilling glimpse into this literary gold mine, as well as a provocative look at the interiority of one of today’s greatest American writers.
The entries, especially the first two decades, are gems. They include the first page from what would come to be The Color Purple ; accounts of Walker’s activism during the civil rights movement in Jackson, Mississippi; letters to writers Langston Hughes and Toni Cade Bambara; as well as ledgers of Walker’s income at a time when she was barely able to keep herself financially afloat.
Walker poignantly recalls her struggles with depression and parenting. She rues her obituary for writer Anaïs Nin, whose own diaries Walker greatly admired, but to whom she feels, ultimately, she did not do justice upon her death. Walker mourns the dissolution of her friendship with Tillie Olsen, author of Silences , after The Color Purple wins the American Book Award (now the National Book Award) and the Pulitzer Prize in 1983. At a dinner with Angela Davis and Toni Morrison, recounted as an excerpt below, Walker and Morrison trade barbs about the same critics who bash their books. Many of the passages in Gathering Blossoms feel as if we’re a fly on the wall at a salon of changemakers.
Walker’s meditations on romance include some of her great loves—Melvyn “Mel” Rosenman Leventhal, her husband and father to their daughter, author Rebecca Walker; longtime partner Robert Allen; and musician Tracy Chapman. She poignantly ruminates, too, on the decline and death of her beloved mother, Minnie Lou Walker, in Eatonton, Georgia, Walker’s hometown.
Courtesy of Emory Photo/Video
Boyd’s footnotes are meticulous. Their insights add to the richness of Walker’s muses, introduce us to the people who shape Walker’s career, and explain the process of curating the selections for the book. Walker’s entries did not always appear in chronological order. During their eight years on the project, Boyd and Walker had to piece some of them together like a jigsaw puzzle.
It is evident in Gathering Blossoms that the two women formed a deep and trusting bond. In the acknowledgements, Boyd thanks Walker for “choosing me.” Walker offers, “I thank all those—many now in the spirit world—for whom I have stayed alive. And those—in this and in the Spirit World—for whom I would have died.”
Boyd now rests in the spirit world Walker envisions. Thankfully, we have this exquisite collaboration between two Black Southern women authors, one still here, the other gone, whose literary legacies will continue to live on.
Excerpts from Gathering Blossoms Under Fire
Boyd writes that she retained Alice Walker’s—AW’s—original spellings, punctuation, and dating styles, even when inconsistent, to stay true to her original journal entries. “I also have sought to be as inconspicuous as possible, to make myself your invisible friend, leaning in only occasionally to whisper an important fact, clarification, or recollection in your ear: Hey, you remember this person, Alice’s boyfriend from her teenage years. Ah yes, this movie came out in 1976, to critical acclaim. Oh, you know Langston Hughes—the legendary poet of the Harlem Renaissance. And, yes, this person seeking a favor is the same person whose bad behavior you remember from fifty pages ago. ” Boyd continues, “These contextual notes aim to serve the larger narrative, to quietly inform you, dear reader, so that you can stay with the story.”
Southbound → June 13, 1965
Valerie: In this entry, AW, now a student at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, chronicles her return to the South—and specifically to Atlanta, where she’d attended Spelman College before transferring to Sarah Lawrence.
Alice: The Atlanta skyline was like a stranger glimpsed again after several days have passed. I noted the newest buildings with some curiosity but no feeling. The Atlanta I knew began on Hunter Street—the southern portion of the Negro section. From the bus I could see the historic spire of Morris Brown—the oldest Negro college in Atlanta—rising from its hill, visible from numerous points about the city. Its spire visible to all, its body hidden like a tree root, deep in the soil of the Negro community. Off the bus I ran into many arms and kisses from old friends—all met at one time or another during the past five years—on walks, marches, pickets, etc. All over the North and South. “Brother!” and “Sister!” followed by all kinds of swings in the air— all accompanied by a freedom song in the background, “This Little Light of Mine,” I believe, let me know that I was finally in “the Movement” and that what this one had here in the Delta that the ones in the North did not was “soul!” Even while restrained by the usual “ick” of registration I felt more or less home and comfortable with the kind of soldiers I had volunteered to work with. That was the first day. Monday morning began with grits.
Looking For Zora → Undated
Valerie: AW had traveled to Eatonville and Fort Pierce, Florida, to look for the grave of Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960), a writer she greatly admired, who had been buried in an unmarked grave, despite a stellar career as the most prolific Black woman writer of her generation. Passing herself off as Hurston’s niece, AW found the grave in a weed-choked, segregated cemetery and, with her own money, bought a small gray headstone to mark the grave. Because of Hurston’s persistent mendacity about her age, AW placed the wrong birth year—1901 instead of 1891—on the marker. Scholars later learned that Hurston had lopped 10 years off her age in a radical act of reinvention that enabled her to finish high school after a decade of “wandering” following her mother’s death.
Alice: Seeing Zora’s grave in its field of weeds made me thankful that I love Mel. All she had, at the end, was her dog Sport. And her “friends.” Really just Sport.
This is what I had engraved on the stone: ZORA NEALE HURSTON “A GENIUS OF THE SOUTH” NOVELIST FOLKLORIST ANTHROPOLOGIST 1901–1960
Early Motherhood → January 16, 1970
Valerie: Alice and Mel decided to have a child partly as a way for Mel to avoid the draft and not go to Vietnam, AW recalls. The couple wanted “to keep our work going in the civil rights movement as well,” she says, noting that Mel’s legal skills were crucial to Black advancement.
Alice: Tomorrow my daughter will be two months old. She does not seem real to me yet as my daughter. But she is the compact, warm, squirming bundle I love to rouse from sleep—holding her against the warmth of my body so that waking will be pleasant, will not jar her. And her eyes, already when she smiles, a bit mischievous. How she blooms and blossoms day by day.
It is still strange having a baby that is all my own (and Mel’s) and I think the amazing thing about one’s baby is that you’d love it regardless of the father. Although when you love the father as I do, the love is more perfect, a blanket love, inclusive, warm.
Did I ever write anything here about the pregnancy? Long, with strong bouts of nausea, spitting. Unable some days to face my black literature class. Then, in the middle, better, so to Mexico and a long buying spree. Rugs (para mi nino!)—mostly Mel’s buying and the Tamayo which I had to have. I realized during pregnancy how much I love Mel, how glad I was to be carrying his child. Mama says a man like Mel, so full of love, should have 50 children. So actually if we stop at one it will be a poor return. The last 3 months difficult, heavy, lonely. The last few weeks unending . . . The labor long, hard—36 hours—beginning the day after Mel & I planted roses. Mel in Texas most of the first day, but then with me the rest of the time. How he suffered I guess I’ll never really know, but it was very hard for him. And how happy he was when it was over and how he grinned when he first saw Rebecca!
I thought, what a lot we’ve been through together and how strong & sure I felt about us.
A page at least belongs to Mama, who came & stayed 4 weeks. She did everything for me, for us. How she loved to hold Rebecca against her and folded in those big fat arms. Nights she took her & rocked her all night when she cried. I knew how much my mother loved me by her love & patience with my child. My mother was unflappable, even if she didn’t know newborn babies can’t perspire!
Mel’s mother, here for Thanksgiving, made me more nervous than I needed to be at the time, but she meant well and her help with the washer-dryer was more thoughtful than I’d ever dreamed. Rebecca uses diapers, diapers!
While Love Is Unfashionable
While love is unfashionable let us live unfashionably. Seeing the world a complex ball in small hands; love our blackest garment. Let us be poor in all but truth, and courage handed down by the old spirits. Let us be intimate with ancestral ghosts and music of the undead. While love is dangerous let us walk bareheaded beside the Great River. Let us gather blossoms under fire.
Over Dinner → November 7, 1987
Valerie: Called “Literary Conjure Woman,” the 3,700-word piece was published in the New Republic on Oct. 19, 1987. In it, Black critic and contrarian Stanley Crouch focused on Toni Morrison’s most recent novel, Beloved , dismissing it as “trite” and “sentimental.”
Alice: Angela & Toni Morrison came to dinner Monday night. Toni’s hair is quite gray, and very beautiful and soft. When they were leaving & we were discussing hair, I touched it. “Angela, feel Toni’s hair, how soft it is!” And the evening was like that. I’d made soup and vegetables and there was bread & butter & fruit and wine. Toni talked about the critics of her book—actually she talked about our critics, since some of those who don’t like her work don’t like mine. Apparently, there’s a horrible review in The New Republic & reprinted in The Village Voice by Stanley Crouch. Someone handed it to her just before she went on a television or radio show. She says she’s called “Aunt Medea” and that there’s a funny/weird caricature of her.
She talked about being able to erect barriers, psychological ones, to protect herself. She feels she has a power to protect herself from crazy people and from dogs. She says she mentally choked a dog someone was holding & it shat in their hands.
I think Toni does have a brilliant, dark power, that she is more comfortable studying evil than I. I can study confusion, which most times only looks like evil, & I’d have a hard time even mentally choking a dog.
She was also very kind in her remarks about Ishmael Reed, saying she could never take him seriously. She seems to have known him for a long time and recently had dinner with him. She explained that when Ishmael was a little boy, around 5, his mother took him to meet his father, “a successful businessman” who threw them out of his office. This was Ishmael’s first meeting with his father. I said this story explains I’s hatred of black women writers: we keep taking him to meet his father.
We talked of whether Tar Baby would be made into a movie; she thought not, but later when Quincy called about Warner’s decision to offer me my 3%, he said plans for it were indeed moving along. Euzhan Palcy’s husband is to direct, not Euzhan! This is not good news. He said Toni would be hearing soon.
Anyway, he also commented on the fact that Toni and I were having dinner together. “Anyone would expect you to be enemies,” he said. But why would “anyone” expect that? Even when I’ve felt bad about something Toni allegedly said or did against me—for instance keeping Bob Gottlieb from taking me on at Knopf when I was trying to leave Harcourt—I’ve always also felt that if I did my work things would be okay.
I explained my absence at her big (City Arts & Lectures) reading. That I was in Boston doing a welfare women’s benefit. And I congratulated her on the success of Beloved, which I pronounced Be-Love-Ed. I said I had it but hadn’t read it yet because I was working on something and knew when I did read it “it would blow me away.”
She has been offered a substantial position at Princeton.
I feel glad for her success. It isn’t my kind of success. There doesn’t seem much laying up for days with her lover in it, but perhaps there is. I hope so. I know I couldn’t stand Princeton for a day.
And to end on an uplifting note …
The Inner Voice → December 31, 1979
Alice: And so, to end the Seventies . . . My life here is so full & rich—and I’ve found God! God is the inner voice that speaks up for what is the best/right course to pursue in any situation. It is the voice of the universe as it must have been when all was perfect. “Om,” which is harder to hear today because of congested living & noise pollution & the hurried life.
I have cramps today—from doing yoga incorrectly, I think, and it is raining. Still, I am aware of sunshine in my heart. Because I know what love is. And I love so much. My most recurring expression is “I love . . .” Trees. Sky. Colors. Food. Everything that is in harmony with the soul of the universe (“om”). I meditate. I pray, in meditation. I talk to myself & converse with my inner voice. And I understand things . . . what Sojourner Truth meant by “God.” The inner voice.
I want to write a different kind of book. Will I? Welcome back, Zora. Welcome all the citizens of all our Eatonvilles. You’ve survived!
I am more optimistic this year than ever before. Even the threat of a 3rd world war doesn’t kill off the optimism. I think there is amazing stuff in the universe. That maybe human beings are working toward some inevitable perfection. Who knows? In the meantime—I am thankful for my life. For the world, for love & friends & child & work. I stand midway in my life. But only if I live until I’m seventy.
From GATHERING BLOSSOMS UNDER FIRE: The Journals of Alice Walker, 1965–2000 by Alice Walker, edited by Valerie Boyd. Copyright © 2022 by Alice Walker. Compilation and Introduction copyright © 2022 by Valerie Boyd. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
This article appears in our May 2022 issue.
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The Foss Mansion
The house construction is masonry on three sides, wood on the back, covered with white stucco, with a red clay tile hip roof. The southern-facing main façade features three symmetrical bays, including a two-story tall pair of bays flanking the central entry, which is sheltered by a portico topped by a segmented-arch pediment. The cornices of the portico, doorway pediment, and roof, including the lines of the roof dormers, are all supported by ornate brackets, or modillions. The two-story porch is supported by four Corinthian columns and features Palladian entryways and windows. The front entry door, constructed of solid wood and accented by leaded glass sidelights, is topped by a rectangular transom and leads to a tiled vestibule opening onto a central hall. The newel posts of the flying staircase feature three designs and a mahogany bannister. Five bowed stained-glass windows, two of which are on interior walls, and a handsome grandfather clock, grace the circular landing where the staircase splits. From the central hall and to the left is a living room of 22×26 feet, featuring an ample fireplace and French doors opening onto the tiled, palm corridor. A half bath is located to one end of the corridor, the porte-cochère on the other. To the right of the grand central hall is the library with a second fireplace, beyond it is a tiled solarium. The dining room is also accessed from the central hall as well as through a French window entrance in the solarium. The oak paneled dining room’s fireplace mantel piece in this room is carved with floral garlands and flanked on either side with built-in china closets. Sliding pocket doors close both the dining room and library.
The kitchen, located in back of the dining room, is accessed through the butler’s pantry. The pantry contains a zinc vegetable sink and dumbwaiter, which ascends from the ice room to the second floor. Two small pass-throughs go from the kitchen into the dining room, providing food and dish access. A back staircase off the back of the kitchen leads to the upper floors.
Each of the five spacious bedrooms on the second floor has its own bathroom. One of the five rooms was reserved for the second floor servants. The back staircase leads to additional servants’ quarters, storage, and a large room finished with tongue-in-groove boards that served as a recreation or billiard room on the third story.
The basement is reached by a stairway in the back hallway. Divided into many rooms, this floor was for functionality and housed the furnace, coal storage, vegetable/root cellar and laundry room. During WWII, the Women’s Literary Union granted the Red Cross to use a room in the basement for home nursing classes. In addition to the woodworking craftsmanship throughout the home, other remarkable features include a central vacuuming system, original paintings and décor, period wallpaper, Persian rugs, and flower gardens like those Mrs. Foss enjoyed during her life in the mansion. A detached two-car garage, designed with a turntable, is located off the porte cochere. Once driven onto the turntable, a car could be turned by manual crank to position it to face the street for ease in exiting the garage. The garage has a basement, as well as chauffeur quarters upstairs.
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Woman's Literary Union, Portland, Me.
The Woman's Literary Union was founded by Eunice Frye (born Eunice Nichols) in December of 1889, under the name of the “Ladies Literary Union”. The name was changed to the Woman's Literary Union in April of 1890 at their first annual meeting. In 1916, founder Eunice Frye's husband George Frye donated a house on Spring Street in Portland to be the Union's first headquarters, plus $10,000 to construct an auditorium adjacent to the house. This construction was finished in February of 1917 and named Frye Hall.
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Jewish Encyclopedia of Russia Surnames starting with the letter P
Translated by josif and vitaly charny.
The following list is a translation of names and minimal personal data for 8,500 people included in Jewish Encyclopedia of Russia (Rossiyskaya Evreiskaya Entsiclopediya); first edition; 1995, Moscow.
Famous people who are listed in the book, which in fact is a biographical dictionary, were born in Russia, the USSR, the Russian Empire, or lived there. This is the first edition of this kind in Russia and a large group of specialists from Russia, Israel and other countries participated in the project.
There are many more well known people in Russia to be included in the next edition of the book. We have to remember that the success of many of these people was achieved against all odds related to limited opportunities that Jews had in Russia.
The translation is an attempt to inform people about this additional source available for researchers.
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Why were so many metro stations in Moscow renamed?
Okhotny Ryad station in Soviet times and today.
The Moscow metro system has 275 stations, and 28 of them have been renamed at some point or other—and several times in some cases. Most of these are the oldest stations, which opened in 1935.
The politics of place names
The first station to change its name was Ulitsa Kominterna (Comintern Street). The Comintern was an international communist organization that ceased to exist in 1943, and after the war Moscow authorities decided to call the street named after it something else. In 1946, the station was renamed Kalininskaya. Then for several days in 1990, the station was called Vozdvizhenka, before eventually settling on Aleksandrovsky Sad, which is what it is called today.
The banner on the entraince reads: "Kalininskaya station." Now it's Alexandrovsky Sad.
Until 1957, Kropotkinskaya station was called Dvorets Sovetov ( Palace of Soviets ). There were plans to build a monumental Stalinist high-rise on the site of the nearby Cathedral of Christ the Saviour , which had been demolished. However, the project never got off the ground, and after Stalin's death the station was named after Kropotkinskaya Street, which passes above it.
Dvorets Sovetov station, 1935. Letters on the entrance: "Metro after Kaganovich."
Of course, politics was the main reason for changing station names. Initially, the Moscow Metro itself was named after Lazar Kaganovich, Joseph Stalin’s right-hand man. Kaganovich supervised the construction of the first metro line and was in charge of drawing up a master plan for reconstructing Moscow as the "capital of the proletariat."
In 1955, under Nikita Khrushchev's rule and during the denunciation of Stalin's personality cult, the Moscow Metro was named in honor of Vladimir Lenin.
Kropotkinskaya station, our days. Letters on the entrance: "Metropolitan after Lenin."
New Metro stations that have been opened since the collapse of the Soviet Union simply say "Moscow Metro," although the metro's affiliation with Vladimir Lenin has never officially been dropped.
Zyablikovo station. On the entrance, there are no more signs that the metro is named after Lenin.
Stations that bore the names of Stalin's associates were also renamed under Khrushchev. Additionally, some stations were named after a neighborhood or street and if these underwent name changes, the stations themselves had to be renamed as well.
Until 1961 the Moscow Metro had a Stalinskaya station that was adorned by a five-meter statue of the supreme leader. It is now called Semyonovskaya station.
Left: Stalinskaya station. Right: Now it's Semyonovskaya.
The biggest wholesale renaming of stations took place in 1990, when Moscow’s government decided to get rid of Soviet names. Overnight, 11 metro stations named after revolutionaries were given new names. Shcherbakovskaya became Alekseyevskaya, Gorkovskaya became Tverskaya, Ploshchad Nogina became Kitay-Gorod and Kirovskaya turned into Chistye Prudy. This seriously confused passengers, to put it mildly, and some older Muscovites still call Lubyanka station Dzerzhinskaya for old times' sake.
At the same time, certain stations have held onto their Soviet names. Marksistskaya and Kropotkinskaya, for instance, although there were plans to rename them too at one point.
"I still sometimes mix up Teatralnaya and Tverskaya stations,” one Moscow resident recalls .
“Both have been renamed and both start with a ‘T.’ Vykhino still grates on the ear and, when in 1991 on the last day of my final year at school, we went to Kitay-Gorod to go on the river cruise boats, my classmates couldn’t believe that a station with that name existed."
The city government submitted a station name change for public discussion for the first time in 2015. The station in question was Voykovskaya, whose name derives from the revolutionary figure Pyotr Voykov. In the end, city residents voted against the name change, evidently not out of any affection for Voykov personally, but mainly because that was the name they were used to.
What stations changed their name most frequently?
Some stations have changed names three times. Apart from the above-mentioned Aleksandrovsky Sad (Ulitsa Kominterna->Kalininskaya->Vozdvizhenka->Aleksandrovsky Sad), a similar fate befell Partizanskaya station in the east of Moscow. Opened in 1944, it initially bore the ridiculously long name Izmaylovsky PKiO im. Stalina (Izmaylovsky Park of Culture and Rest Named After Stalin). In 1947, the station was renamed and simplified for convenience to Izmaylovskaya. Then in 1963 it was renamed yet again—this time to Izmaylovsky Park, having "donated" its previous name to the next station on the line. And in 2005 it was rechristened Partizanskaya to mark the 60th anniversary of victory in World War II.
Partizanskaya metro station, nowadays.
Another interesting story involves Alekseyevskaya metro station. This name was originally proposed for the station, which opened in 1958, since a village with this name had been located here. It was then decided to call the station Shcherbakovskaya in honor of Aleksandr Shcherbakov, a politician who had been an associate of Stalin. Nikita Khrushchev had strained relations with Shcherbakov, however, and when he got word of it literally a few days before the station opening the builders had to hastily change all the signs. It ended up with the concise and politically correct name of Mir (Peace).
The name Shcherbakovskaya was restored in 1966 after Khrushchev's fall from power. It then became Alekseyevskaya in 1990.
Alekseyevskaya metro station.
But the station that holds the record for the most name changes is Okhotny Ryad, which opened in 1935 on the site of a cluster of market shops. When the metro system was renamed in honor of Lenin in 1955, this station was renamed after Kaganovich by way of compensation. The name lasted just two years though because in 1957 Kaganovich fell out of favor with Khrushchev, and the previous name was returned. But in 1961 it was rechristened yet again, this time in honor of Prospekt Marksa, which had just been built nearby.
Okhotny Ryad station in 1954 and Prospekt Marksa in 1986.
In 1990, two historical street names—Teatralny Proyezd and Mokhovaya Street—were revived to replace Prospekt Marksa, and the station once again became Okhotny Ryad.
Okhotny Ryad in 2020.
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The Harvard Gazette
Power of poetry, warning to preserve academic freedom, bells to ring on commencement day.
Campus & Community
“One of the most important gifts poetry has given me is that it’s taught me that the ordinary is extraordinary,” said Natalie Diaz, speaking during the Phi Beta Kappa Literary Exercises.
Photos by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Poet Natalie Diaz, Sloan Foundation President Adam Falk deliver thoughts at Phi Beta Kappa Literary Exercises
By Samantha Laine Perfas Harvard Staff Writer
Date May 23, 2023 May 24, 2023
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Celebrated poet Natalie Diaz urged students and attendees of the Phi Beta Kappa Literary Exercises to consider how poetry can be a powerful conduit for connecting with others.
“Poetry is where I can love who and what are most difficult to love in this world,” Diaz said Tuesday morning at Sanders Theatre. She shared with the audience that her brother, who struggles with addiction, was the inspiration for her first collection of poems, “When My Brother Was an Aztec” (2012). It allowed her to process her relationship with him in a way that helped her better navigate the world.
“Poetry is a place where I can look at my brother and love him in ways that I can’t in my every day,” she said. She told the newest inductees into PBK: “I wish that whether it comes through poetry or anything else that you love, that you have that place to find love.”
The annual Commencement week event marks the induction of some of the College’s most gifted students into the nation’s oldest academic honor society. Students are selected by Harvard faculty and senior staffers who are also members of the group. This year, the ceremony honored the 176 students from the Class of 2023 who will be joining the ranks.
In his address, Adam Falk spoke of the importance of academic freedom and the responsibility of PBK’s newest members to protect it.
Diaz, the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University, shared the stage with Adam Falk, Ph.D. ’91, a theoretical physicist who is currently president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Falk delivered the traditional oration, taking as his topic current threats to academic freedom.
Diaz, a former MacArthur fellow, was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California. She’s an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe and spoke about how her experience as a Mojave woman fuels her poetry. During the ceremony, she read three of her poems, pulling from both of her collections, “When My Brother Was an Aztec” and “Postcolonial Love Poem” (2020), which won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in poetry.
“One of the most important gifts poetry has given me is that it’s taught me that the ordinary is extraordinary. If I just look a little closer, look a little longer, a little deeper,” Diaz said.
Falk, a former president of Williams College, talked about the importance of academic freedom and the responsibility of PBK’s newest members to protect it in his address titled “The Price of the Pin.”
“It’s not about the pin. What your membership in Phi Beta Kappa signifies is your deep engagement with what is actually the core of this university,” he said.
In many places around the world, academic freedom and its practitioners are under attack, Falk reminded the audience. Harvard’s own Scholars at Risk Program has provided safety and protection to approximately 100 academics from more than 30 countries who are threatened “because of who they are, where they are, or what they represent.”
Falk noted that his own family history illustrates the need for such programs, as both his father and his maternal grandfather were scholars who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
Closer to home Falk cited recent troubling incidents in the United States, particularly in the state of Florida. In 2021, for instance, the University of Florida attempted to bar three professors from serving as expert witnesses against the state in a voting right case, and last year the state legislature passed the so-called Stop Woke Act that aims to regulate training at schools or businesses on race and gender. Earlier this year Governor Ron DeSantis unveiled plans to turn a public college, known for its progressivism, into a much more conservative-leaning institution .
“The extraordinary claim that lies at the heart of all three of these cases is that the loyalty of faculty must be to the state, and the state may decide what [individuals] are permitted to say in the classroom and the courtroom,” Falk said. “There is perhaps no idea more antithetical to academic freedom.”
As part of the ceremony, undergraduate members of Alpha Iota honored three members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences for excellence in teaching. Each was cited for the innovation, intellect, and passion they bring to the classroom: Kelly McConville, Senior Lecturer and Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies in Statistics; Curtis McMullen, Maria Moors Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences; and Justin Weir, Curt Hugo Reisinger Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Professor of Comparative Literature.
In closing, Falk urged the new inductees to take with them into the future endeavors the mission embraced by Phi Beta Kappa — to champion education, foster freedom of thought, and recognize academic excellence.
“You are honored because you have engaged deeply with this university’s academic mission. And you have benefited fully from the freedom of thought and expression essential to fulfilling that mission,” he said. “Whatever path you take, your membership in Phi Beta Kappa gives you the opportunity — and I would say the obligation — to defend the academic freedom you have so fully embraced in these years at Harvard.”
One of the majestic bells that will be heard from the Lowell House tower.
Harvard file photo
Lewiston Sun Journal
An evening of traditional music at the Vienna Union Hall
The musical trio of Greg Boardman, Elsie Gawler, and Steve Muise. Submitted photo
VIENNA — On Friday, June 9, at 7 p.m., the musical trio of Greg Boardman, Elsie Gawler, and Steve Muise return this year for another evening of heartwarming music and culture. Drawing from traditions of Downeast, Quebecois, Franco-American, Irish and Scottish heritages, these highly respected musicians are sure to get your toes tapping and light up your smiles, much as they did last year when they led off our 2022 season.
Greg Boardman, hailing from Lewiston Maine, is founder of the Maine Fiddle Camp and is one of northern New England’s most influential fiddlers. Greg’s influences lie in the Downeast style of fiddling and he is influenced by Cherry Frechette, Otto Soper, Simon St. Pierre, and Dudley Laufman, to name just a few. Greg shares his love of music by performing throughout the region, but moreover through teaching bowed strings to elementary students and offering cultural/musical workshops.
Elsie Gawler, returning for her third performance this season, is a multi-instrumentalist and songster rooted in Maine’s traditional folk music and culture. Performing with The Gawler Family Band, she also performs in other pairings – Ethan and Elsie, The Gawler Sisters, and is a long-time member of the group, Childsplay. She has produced an album of original music, Sweet As Honey.
Steve Muise hails from just up the road where he teaches bowed stringed instruments in the Farmington school system. Steve has been fiddling the Downeast style for many years, his parents being 1st and 2nd generation Nova Scotians. Steve is the founder of Franklin County Fiddlers who have also graced our stage with their musical talents. Steve also performs with his dad Paul, as well as Boreal Tordu, Frigate, and Muisette.
Tickets ($15) can be purchased on-line through our website (viennaunionhall.org/arts-and- events) or at the door day-of-event. For more information please contact Tim Davis at [email protected] or call 293-2309. Thanks for supporting the Vienna Union Hall to bring the performing arts to our communities.
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Talty, gill win 2023 maine literary awards.
Morgan Talty, assistant professor of English, and Jacquelyn Gill, associate professor of paleoecology & plant ecology, received 2023 Maine Literary Awards from the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance (MWPA). Talty won the Book Award for Fiction for his debut novel “Night of the Living Rez,” and Gill won the Short Works Competition in Nonfiction for her essay “Grief Almanac for an Apocalypse,” published in The Sun magazine. For a full list of honorees, visit the MWPA website .
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Books | Literary Pick: Sicangu Lakota woman tells…
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Books | literary pick: sicangu lakota woman tells adoption story.
Sandy White Hawk, a Sicangu Lakota from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, discusses her book “A Child of the Indian Race: A Story of Return” at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 1, at Birchbark Bizhew, 1629 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., the new events space for Birchbark Books bookstore, presenters of the event with publisher Minnesota Historical Society Press.
White Hawk’s book is timely because in June the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a landmark decision related to constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act, which established federal standards, recognizing that Tribes have sovereignty and exclusive jurisdiction over their members who reside on Tribal land.
The legalities are personal for White Hawk, who was a toddler when she was taken from her Lakota family. Her adoption papers call her “a child of the Indian race,” and her adoptive mother never let her forget it, telling her she was unwanted and shaming her for being “Indian.” So she medicated her traumas with drugs and alcohol until she was 28 and reconnected with her birth mother. Mentored by a respected elder, White Hawk began to work with relatives who also had been separated by adoption and foster care. She realized she could use her voice to advocate, founding the First Nations Repatriation Institute, an organization that addresses post-adoption issues of Native American individuals, families, and communities.
White Hawk is also president of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition and former elder-in-residence at the Indian Child Welfare Act Law Center in Minneapolis.
“A Child of the Indian Race” features a foreword by Gene Thin elk and introduction by Terry Cross.
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Mary Ann Grossmann
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Martin Amis, Acclaimed Author of Bleakly Comic Novels, Dies at 73
In books like “Money” and “The Information,” he created “a high style to describe low things,” as he put it. He found more renown as a critic, and a measure of unease as his famous father’s son.
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By Dwight Garner
Martin Amis, whose caustic, erudite and bleakly comic novels redefined British fiction in the 1980s and ’90s with their sharp appraisal of tabloid culture and consumer excess, and whose private life made him tabloid fodder himself, died on Friday at his home in Lake Worth, Fla. He was 73.
His wife, the writer Isabel Fonseca , said the cause was esophageal cancer — the same disease that killed his close friend and fellow writer Christopher Hitchens in 2011.
Mr. Amis published 15 novels , a well-regarded memoir ( “Experience,” in 2000), works of nonfiction, and collections of essays and short stories. In his later work he investigated Stalin’s atrocities, the war on terror and the legacy of the Holocaust.
He is best known for his so-called London trilogy of novels — “Money: A Suicide Note” (1985), “London Fields” (1990) and “The Information” (1995) — which remain, along with his memoir, his most representative and admired work.
The tone of these novels was bright, bristling and profane. “What I’ve tried to do is to create a high style to describe low things: the whole world of fast food, sex shows, nude mags,” Mr. Amis told The New York Times Book Review in a 1985 interview. “I’m often accused of concentrating on the pungent, rebarbative side of life in my books, but I feel I’m rather sentimental about it. Anyone who reads the tabloid papers will rub up against much greater horrors than I describe.”
Mr. Amis’s literary heroes — he called them his “Twin Peaks” — were Vladimir Nabokov and Saul Bellow, and critics located in his work both Nabokov’s gift for wordplay and gamesmanship and Bellow’s exuberance and brio.
Like the narrator of Mr. Bellow’s novel “The Actual,” Mr. Amis was “a first-class noticer.”
“I think all writers are Martians,” he said in a Paris Review interview. “They come and say, ‘You haven’t been seeing this place right.’”
Father and Son
Mr. Amis’s misanthropic wit made his voice at times reminiscent of that of his father, Kingsley Amis. Kingsley, who died in 1995 , was one of the British working- and middle-class novelists of the 1950s known as the Angry Young Men and became famous with the success of his comic masterpiece “Lucky Jim” (1954).
Father and son were close, but they disagreed about much. Kingsley Amis drifted to the right with the rise of Margaret Thatcher; he once publicly referred to his son’s left-leaning political opinions as “howling nonsense.”
Their supposed rivalry was of great interest in Britain. When the National Portrait Gallery invited father and son to pose together, Kingsley’s thin-skinned refusal made the front page of The Sunday Telegraph. He later regretted the fuss, the younger Mr. Amis said.
Being the child of a well-known writer was, for Mr. Amis, both blessing and curse. It helped put him on the map earlier than he might otherwise have gotten there. It made him familiar at an early age with London’s hothouse publishing world. It also helped make him a figure of fascination, resentment and envy.
“I’d be in a very different position now if my father had been a schoolteacher,” Mr. Amis told The Sunday Times of London in 2014. He added: “I’ve been delegitimized by heredity. In the 1970s, people were sympathetic to me being the son of a novelist. They’re not at all sympathetic now, because it looks like cronyism.”
Mr. Amis’s talent was undeniable: He was the most dazzling stylist in postwar British fiction. So were his swagger and Byronic good looks. He had well-chronicled involvements with some of the most watched young women of his era. He wore, according to media reports, velvet jackets, Cuban-heel boots, bespoke shirts. He stared balefully into paparazzi lenses.
His raucous lunches with friends and fellow writers like Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Salman Rushdie, Clive James , James Fenton and Mr. Hitchens were written up in the press and made other writers feel that they were on the outside looking in. He seemed to be having more fun than other people. His detractors considered him less a bad boy than a spoiled brat.
Mr. Amis’s fame built to a crescendo in the mid-1990s. One “scandal,” as chronicled in English tabloids like The Daily Mail, followed the next.
In 1994, he dropped his longtime agent, Pat Kavanagh , the wife of his friend Mr. Barnes, for the rival agent Andrew Wylie, whom the British press nicknamed “the Jackal,” and a larger advance on a novel. The amount Mr. Amis wanted, a reported $794,500 (about $1.6 million today), was deemed unseemly. The episode ended his friendship with Mr. Barnes, although a decade later Mr. Amis said they had reconciled.
Also in 1994 Mr. Amis left his first wife, Antonia Phillips, for Ms. Fonseca, a younger woman who Mr. Hitchens said in one interview was being pursued by Mr. Rushdie, among others. The press ate up the details, especially those about expensive dental work that Mr. Amis had, although he saw it as an acute medical necessity.
Mr. Amis drew attention in later decades for the interviews he gave around the publication of his novels. These tended to be wide-ranging and opinionated; he shot from the hip. Often enough they got him into trouble.
In a 2006 interview, after the thwarting of an attempt to bomb trans-Atlantic flights from Heathrow Airport by British-born Muslims, Mr. Amis suggested that the Muslim community in England might “have to suffer until it gets its house in order.” He proposed that this might involve the curtailing of freedoms.
The comments drew condemnation from many, including the English literary critic Terry Eagleton, who called them “stomach-churning” and said they resembled those of “a British National Party thug.” Mr. Amis apologized, calling the remarks “categorically wrong” and “stupid.”
Mr. Amis’s work grew more political and historical, and more serious in tone, in the 2000s and 2010s. Critics often found his later books wanting, and reviews could be scathing.
He was sanguine about these attacks. He told one interviewer: “There’s a one-word narrative for every writer. For Hitchens, it was ‘contrarian.’ For me, it’s ‘decline.’”
A Well-Traveled Youth
Martin Louis Amis was born on Aug. 25, 1949, in Oxford, England. He had an older brother, Philip, and a younger sister, Sally, who died in 2000. His mother was Hilary A. Bardwell, the daughter of a civil servant in the agriculture ministry.
Martin attended more than a dozen schools in the 1950s and ’60s as a result of his father’s travels on the academic circuit after the success of “Lucky Jim.” The constant need to make new friends, he said, helped make him funny. The Amis family spent a year in Princeton, N.J., a sojourn that introduced Martin to America, with which he maintained a lifelong fascination.
The Amis household was permissive. Mr. Amis compared it, in a 1990 interview with The New York Times Magazine, to “something out of early Updike, ‘Couples’ flirtations and a fair amount of drinking.” It would have gone unremarked, he wrote in his memoir, if he had lit a cigarette under the Christmas tree at 5.
He was devastated, at 12, by his parents’ divorce. He read mostly comic books and was “pretty illiterate,” he said, until he was 17. That’s when his stepmother, the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard , urged him to read Jane Austen. He crammed to get into Exeter College at Oxford, where in 1971 he graduated with honors in English.
After leaving Oxford, Mr. Amis held a string of journalistic and literary jobs in London. He became an editorial assistant at The Times Literary Supplement in 1972, and two years later became its fiction and poetry editor. In 1975, he joined the editorial staff of The New Statesman magazine and within about a year he was its literary editor, at 27. It was there that he began his long friendship with Mr. Hitchens.
In his 2010 memoir, “Hitch-22,” Mr. Hitchens recalled Mr. Amis in the early years of their acquaintance, noting how the Rolling Stones had come to mind when Clive James referred to Mr. Amis as resembling “a stubby Jagger.”
“He was more blond than Jagger and indeed rather shorter,” Mr. Hitchens wrote, “but his sensuous lower lip was a crucial feature,” and “you would always know when he had come into the room.”
Mr. Amis wrote his first novel, “The Rachel Papers,” published in England in 1973, on nights and weekends. He gave himself a year to complete it. If it hadn’t panned out, he said, he might have considered academia.
“The Rachel Papers” is autobiographical and among his most traditional in terms of its form. It is about a bright, sardonic, sexually obsessed young man (“Erections, as we all know, come to the teenager on a plate”) and his girlfriend, Rachel, while he studies for his college exams.
The novel’s electric prose established Mr. Amis as an important young English writer and won the Somerset Maugham Award for writers under 30. It did less well in America. “The Rachel Papers” was panned in The New York Times Book Review by Grace Glueck, who called it “a crotch-and-armpit saga of late adolescence,” and in the daily Times by Anatole Broyard, who wrote, “Considering the advantages he has had, Martin has not covered himself in glory.”
Mr. Amis followed “The Rachel Papers” with “Dead Babies” (1976), a blackly humorous novel about drug-taking and sex among a group of young people in a rural house over a single weekend, and “Success,” published in England in 1978, a Swiftian satire about sibling rivalry and foster brothers of different social backgrounds.
Mr. Amis’s novels found an immediate readership in Britain. In the United States, he was slower to catch on. “Success” did not find an American publisher until 1987.
Many Americans first heard the name Martin Amis because of a plagiarism scandal. In 1980 Mr. Amis accused Jacob Epstein — the son of Barbara Epstein, a founder of The New York Review of Books — of lifting multiple passages from “The Rachel Papers” and placing them in his own first novel, “Wild Oats.” Mr. Amis wrote that “Epstein wasn’t influenced by ‘The Rachel Papers,’ he had it flattened out beside his typewriter.” Mr. Epstein later admitted copying passages, and apologized.
For nearly three decades after, Mr. Amis’s books were not reviewed in the NYRB, one of the chief intellectual organs in the English language.
‘Money’ and More Success
Mr. Amis married Ms. Phillips, a widowed Boston philosophy teacher, in 1984. They had two sons, Louis and Jacob. That year, Mr. Amis published “Money,” a novel that Time magazine would include on a list of the “100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present.”
“Money” is narrated by John Self, a director of commercials who becomes tangled in a film project. Self is a drunk and a hedonist, and an acid observer of life. In a metafictional twist, Mr. Amis wrote himself into “Money” as one of Self’s confidants. Moments like these in his novels, he said, made the more traditionally minded Kingsley Amis want to fling his son’s books across the room.
More than a decade of successful and critically admired novels followed. “London Fields” is set amid fears of approaching climate-related apocalypse. The events in “Time’s Arrow” (1991) occur in reverse: An American doctor grows younger and finds himself working in the medical section of Auschwitz. “The Information” (1995) is about two friends, both writers, who become antagonists after one becomes famous and wealthy.
Reviewing “The Information” in The Times, Michiko Kakutani wrote that “all the themes and stylistic experiments in Mr. Amis’s earlier fiction come together in a symphonic whole.” In The Washington Post, Jonathan Yardley called Mr. Amis “a force unto himself among those of his generation now writing fiction in English,” adding, “there is, quite simply, no one else like him.”
After he and Ms. Phillips divorced, Mr. Amis married Ms. Fonseca in 1998. A Uruguayan American writer, Ms. Fonseca is the author of “Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey” (1995). The couple had two daughters, Fernanda and Clio.
What one might call the back half of Mr. Amis’s career began roughly in 2000. He still published the occasional slashing novel about loutish men and declining standards; these included “Yellow Dog” (2003), his most poorly reviewed book, and “Lionel Asbo: State of England” (2012).
He also demonstrated, in the reviews and essays collected in “The War Against Cliché” (2001), that he was among the fiercest and most intelligent literary critics of his time. His reviews were an important part of his reputation.
But on the whole, he turned to larger and deeper historical subjects and themes — to mixed reviews.
In 2002, Mr. Amis published “Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million,” a study of the Stalin regime’s atrocities in the Soviet Union. The title alludes to Stalin’s nickname, Koba. The word “laughter” in the subtitle refers to Mr. Amis’s morally perplexed realization that, while Hitler and the Holocaust are off limits, many consider it appropriate to joke about Stalin and the Soviet Union.
He revisited some of that book’s themes and research in “House of Meetings” (2006), a novel about two brothers who live in a Soviet gulag during the last decade of Stalin’s rule and love the same woman.
In 2008, Mr. Amis published “The Second Plane,” a collection of 12 pieces of nonfiction and two short stories about the Western world and terror. “Are you an Islamophobe?” he was asked by the British newspaper The Independent while he was writing the book.
“Of course not,” he replied. “What I am is an Islamismophobe. Or better say an anti-Islamist, because a ‘phobia’ is an irrational fear, and there is nothing irrational about fearing people who say they want to kill you.” He added: “Anti-Islamism is not like antisemitism. There is a reason for it.”
Mr. Amis and Ms. Fonseca moved with their daughters to Brooklyn in 2011, purchasing a five-story brownstone in the fashionable Cobble Hill neighborhood. They moved to be closer to Ms. Fonseca’s parents, he said, and also to Mr. Hitchens, who died in December that year. Mr. Amis gave a moving oration at Mr. Hitchens’s memorial. They also had a home in Lake Worth, Fla., where Mr. Amis died.
In addition to Ms. Fonseca, Mr. Amis is survived by three daughters, Delilah Jeary, Fernanda Amis and Clio Amis; two sons, Louis and Jacob Amis; four grandchildren; and a brother, James Boyd.
Ms. Jeary was his daughter from a brief affair Mr. Amis had with the artist Lamorna Seale in the 1970s. She did not discover that he was her father until she was 19.
In 2008, Delilah Seale had a son, making Mr. Amis a grandfather. At the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts in Wales in the summer of 2010, Mr. Amis dryly commented that “being a grandfather is like getting a telegram from the mortuary.”
In America, he was happy to escape what he called “the cruising hostility” of the English press. He became an almost avuncular figure in Brooklyn, regularly seen walking his daughters to school. No longer the upstart, Mr. Amis himself inspired a younger generation of writers, including Zadie Smith and Will Self.
As he aged, he stopped playing tennis, a sport he once played daily and wrote about often. He mostly stopped writing criticism, too. “Insulting people in print is a vice of youth,” he said in an interview with The Independent. “Insulting people in your middle age is undignified, and looks more and more demented as you head toward the twilight.”
He never won England’s best-known literary award, the Booker Prize, although many of the novelists he was associated with — including Mr. McEwan, Mr. Rushdie and Mr. Barnes — did. Mr. Amis was shortlisted for the award in 1991 for “Time’s Arrow,” and longlisted in 2003 for “Yellow Dog.”
His final novel, “Inside Story,” published in 2020, was a “novelized autobiography” that considered his friendship with Mr. Hitchens and his relationship with his father.
In his writing about Mr. Hitchens, Mr. Amis “accesses a depth of feeling and plainness of language entirely new to his work,” the Times critic Parul Sehgal wrote in praising “Inside Story.” She added, “I write under the sign of Amis.”
On the day he died, a film of Mr. Amis’s 2014 Holocaust novel, “Zone of Interest” — the title refers to Germany’s term for the 40-square-kilometer area that surrounded Auschwitz — debuted to strong reviews at the Cannes Film Festival. Directed by Jonathan Glazer, the film (like the novel) is partly about the idyllic life of a camp commander and his wife, who live just outside the barb-wired compound.
Mortality was long a theme in Mr. Amis’s work. In “The Information,” he wrote: “Every morning we leave more in the bed: certainty, vigor, past loves. And hair, and skin: dead cells. This ancient detritus was nonetheless one move ahead of you, making its humorless own arrangements to rejoin the cosmos.”
He might have been speaking of himself in that novel when he wrote of one of its dueling writers: “He didn’t want to please his readers. He wanted to stretch them until they twanged.”
Joshua Needelman contributed reporting.
Dwight Garner has been a book critic for The Times since 2008. His new book, “The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading,” is out this fall.
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Martin Amis was Mick Jagger in literary form, I was besotted with his electrifying prose
Amis transformed vernacular English into screamingly funny voice-powered novels in the 80s and 90s, but he was even better in his later collections of journalism – showing how style was intrinsic to perception
- Martin Amis, era-defining British novelist, dies aged 73
I suspect it’s difficult for anyone under the age of … what? 30? 40? – to comprehend the thrall Martin Amis exerted on writers now in their 50s or above. One might have to insert a qualifying “male” here. Or go the other way, stop generalizing and say how thoroughly he had me in his thrall throughout the 1980s and 90s. There were writers I admired more but he was more fun to read than all of them put together. I sat there aghast at his transformative impact on language. In Money he imported an American form – the voice-powered monologue – and mixed it in with vernacular English ingredients that were traditional and of the moment. The next big novel was called London Fields but this phase of extended dominance can be likened to an earlier titular declaration from 1979: London Calling . But just as this was a New York-inflected London, so the daylight yobbery of register was always being yanked (in both senses) into a subtly different gear by a mix of inheritance (Kingsley), institution (first-class English degree from Oxford) and indebtedness to American favourites: Saul Bellow, pre-eminently). An ironic consequence of all this was that Amis’s contemporaneity made Bellow seem old-worldy (while Martin enjoyed the dubious distinction of being referred to as an enfant terrible well into his sixties).
But what was this this ? Or, More exactly where was it? In Money, obviously, but the truth is that with the exception of Time’s Arrow Amis’s other major novels were all overlong. I tired of them even in the midst of relishing them. London Fields sagged fatally – then sprang back into life. The Information was unable to sustain the weight and momentum of its opening. What this meant was that he was at his consistent best in the collections of journalism such as The Moronic Inferno and The War Against Cliche . His signature strength as a writer – the electrifying prose – was also a component of his shortcoming as a novelist. In some ways, an unflashy writer such as Tessa Hadley seems to get closer to the permanent mystery of great fiction than he ever did. But style is not just a varnish; it is, as he pointed out, intrinsic to perception. Every page of his writing – in any form – was steeped in his consciousness and I was besotted by that consciousness in all its forms. I think that’s why there was such a personality cult around Amis in a way that there could never be a cult of Julian Barnes or AS Byatt. Amis was Mick Jagger in literary form.
I will never forget the first time I met him. At a party in London in the early 2000s. We chatted for a few minutes. I knew a lot of writers and had met quite a few famous people by then, but after this very brief encounter my wife asked if I’d been taking coke. I hadn’t but when we were back home she asked again because I was so wired. I hadn’t been taking coke but I sort of had. I was still kite-high from the intoxication – the simple fact – of having met Martin Amis . This extraordinary – and perfectly normal – reaction was consistent with the way that I, like many other people, often expressed my admiration for Amis in tones of competitive disparagement. The more you loved Amis the more cleverly – ideally, Amisianly – you tried to take him down. And then, today, in a cafe in Santa Monica, when I received a text about his death, I found myself crying.
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In a way it seems horribly appropriate that, in an age of sensitivity readers (insensitive readers, really), and a pervasively internalized terror of causing offence (relax, I’m joking!) he’s no longer around. In the foreword to The War Against Cliche he deplored the way that the reviewer reads a book, “and then sees which way it rubs him up. The right way or the wrong way.” That was in 2001, before this kind of rubbing had really started to chafe. So although I confidently assigned the book to a class of grad students in California I only suggested, with all manner of protective warning, that they might also want to take a quick look at Money. In anticipation of that class I read bits of Money again, for the fourth or fifth time. What joy, what bliss it was! And screamingly funny, obviously. Even its shortcomings are the result of a wild overabundance. But what would the grads make of it? One of the students – a radical feminist, stripper and sex worker – could hardly wait to pounce … by declaring how utterly she had loved the book. It so happens that, like the novel’s dedicatee, she is called Antonia. Her end-of-semester paper was a wonderfully crazed – and reasoned – account of her conviction that Martin had somehow written the book for her.
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Emily Ratajkowski attended the 2023 PEN America Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on Thursday, wearing a classic outfit.
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At the 2023 Literary Gala in NYC, author Salman Rushdie received the PEN Centenary Courage Award, his first public appearance since a knife attack. Rushdie emphasized the importance of PEN America’s mission to protect free expression in the face of book bans and censorship, calling for resilience and action against terrorism. The gala, attended by esteemed writers and advocates, supports PEN America’s literary and advocacy programs globally.
Among the guests this year were Fred Armisen, Alec and Hilaria Baldwin, Brit Bennett, Candance Bushnell, Michael Che, Susan Choi, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg , Min Jin Lee, Raven Leilani, Diane Sawyer, Andrew Solomon and Cecily Strong.
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