Books | The Guardian


  • US author to give away £10,000 prize cash over role of sponsor in opioid crisis | Books | The Guardian

    US author to give away £10,000 prize cash over role of sponsor in opioid crisis

    Investigative reporter Patrick Radden Keefe will give money from business book of the year shortlisting to charity over involvement of McKinsey firm
    Patrick Radden Keefe
    ‘Irony’ … the New Yorker writer Patrick Radden Keefe. Photograph: Albert Llop/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock
    Lucy Knight
    Fri 3 Dec 2021 18.24 GMT

    Last modified on Fri 3 Dec 2021 18.26 GMT

    The American writer Patrick Radden Keefe has said he will give away the £10,000 he was awarded by a book prize whose sponsor helped to sell the opioid painkiller OxyContin.

    Radden Keefe’s damning investigative book Empire of Pain deals with the opioid addiction crisis, focusing on the role of the Sackler family. He was one of six authors shortlisted for the prize, sponsored by the consultancy McKinsey, five of whom, including him, each received runner-up awards of £10,000.

    Tweeting about the “irony” on Thursday, the New Yorker journalist and author posted a photo of himself at the Financial Times/McKinsey business book of the year 2021 award ceremony at the National Gallery in London, pointing to a sign reading “The Sackler Room”. The Sacklers’ company Purdue Pharma sold the OxyContin painkiller which is said to have fuelled the US’s opioid crisis.

    I’m told it was the British who invented irony, so a short 🧵 about my experience last night in London. My book on the Sacklers, Empire of Pain, had been shortlisted for the FT / McKinsey Business Book of the Year award…
    — Patrick Radden Keefe (@praddenkeefe) December 2, 2021

    In a further tweet, Keefe went on to write that “if you throw a brick in the London art world, you’ll hit a Sackler room”, because the family were keen supporters of art and made generous donations to many prominent galleries.

    What was more ironic than the ceremony being held in a room next to one named after the Sacklers, he continued, was the fact that he had been shortlisted for an award sponsored by McKinsey & Company. The consultancy firm had previously advised the Sacklers and Purdue on how to “turbocharge” sales of OxyContin, and in February agreed to pay nearly $600m in settlement for its role in the opioid crisis.

    This “made for some pretty fraught emotions”, said Keefe. “On the one hand, it means a great deal to me to see this book recognised. On the other, I could not take part in the lovely gala dinner and not at least acknowledge the proverbial elephant.”

    He has chosen to donate the money he received as a shortlisted author to the charity Odyssey House, which works to help people recover from drug and alcohol abuse.

    The writer, who won the Baillie Gifford prize for nonfiction in November, lost out on the business book of the year award to Nicole Perlroth, whose winning book This Is How They Tell Me The World Ends is about the cyber weapons arms race.

    Keefe was keen to stress that he believes the jury was “100% independent” and not in any way influenced by the prize’s sponsor.

    #Patick_Radden_Keefe #Opioides #Prix_littéraire

  • Sally Rooney turns down an Israeli translation on political grounds | Books | The Guardian

    In a statement released on Tuesday, Rooney explained her decision, writing that while she was “very proud” to have had her previous novels translated into Hebrew, she has for now “chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house”.
    The statement expressed her desire to support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), a campaign that works to “end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law”.

  • Daniel Kahneman: ‘Clearly AI is going to win. How people are going to adjust is a fascinating problem’, Tim Adams, 16 Mai 2021

    The Nobel-winning psychologist on applying his ideas to organisations, why we’re not equipped to grasp the spread of a virus, and the massive disruption that’s just round the corner

    I see myself as really quite an objective psychologist. Obviously, humans are limited. But they’re also pretty marvellous. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, I really was trying to talk about the marvels of intuitive thinking and not only about its flaws – but flaws are more amusing so there is more attention paid there.

    I think there is less difference between religion and other belief systems than we think. We all like to believe we’re in direct contact with truth. I will say that in some respects my belief in science is not very different from the belief other people have in religion. I mean, I believe in climate change, but I have no idea about it really. What I believe in is the institutions and methods of people who tell me there is climate change. We shouldn’t think that because we are not religious, that makes us so much cleverer than religious people. The arrogance of scientists is something I think about a lot.

  • My father was famous as John le Carré. My mother was his crucial, covert collaborator

    She was adamant that her contribution was not writing, that the creative partnership they had was uneven. She declined interviews and stepped out of photographs – even family ones, so that as we were looking this week for images for the order of service at her cremation, we had very few, and those were stolen moments gleaned before she could practise her invisibility trick.

  • Spain’s forgotten literary star from a turbulent age is rescued from oblivion

    Towards the end of a long life that was more eventful, more peripatetic and more exquisitely chronicled than most, #María_Teresa_León came to a painful conclusion.

    “Living,” wrote the Spanish author and anti-fascist activist, “isn’t as important as remembering. What a horror to have nothing to remember; to leave nothing behind you but blank tape.”

    The lines are from León’s 1970 autobiography, Memoria de la Melancolía (Memory of Melancholy), which has been republished to mark its 50th anniversary and to rekindle interest in a writer whose literary achievements have all too often been overshadowed by those of her second husband, the poet Rafael Alberti.

    Along with Federico García Lorca, Ernestina de Champourcín, Pedro Salinas, Rosa Chacel and Vicente Aleixandre, León and Alberti belonged to the so-called Generation of ’27, named after the year the avant garde literary group met.

  • David Graeber, anthropologist and author of Bullshit Jobs, dies aged 59

    The anarchist and author of bestselling books on capitalism and bureaucracy died in a Venice hospital on Wednesday.

    David Graeber, anthropologist and anarchist author of bestselling books on bureaucracy and economics including Bullshit Jobs: A Theory and Debt: The First 5,000 Years, has died aged 59.

    On Thursday Graeber’s wife, the artist and writer Nika Dubrovsky, announced on Twitter that Graeber had died in hospital in Venice the previous day. The cause of death is not yet known.

    Renowned for his biting and incisive writing about bureaucracy, politics and capitalism, Graeber was a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement and professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics (LSE) at the time of his death. His final book, The Dawn of Everything: a New History of Humanity, written with David Wengrow, will be published in autumn 2021.
    Caring too much. That’s the curse of the working classes
    David Graeber
    Read more

    The historian Rutger Bregman called Graeber “one of the greatest thinkers of our time and a phenomenal writer”, while the Guardian columnist Owen Jones called him “an intellectual giant, full of humanity, someone whose work inspired and encouraged and educated so many”. The Labour MP John McDonnell wrote: “I counted David as a much valued friend and ally. His iconoclastic research and writing opened us all up to fresh thinking and such innovative approaches to political activism. We will all miss him hugely.”

    Tom Penn, Graeber’s editor at Penguin Random House, said the publishing house was “devastated” and called Graeber “a true radical, a pioneer in everything that he did”.

    “David’s inspirational work has changed and shaped the way people understand the world. In his books, his constant, questing curiosity, his wry, sharp-eyed provoking of received nostrums shine through. So too, above all, does his unique ability to imagine a better world, borne out of his own deep and abiding humanity,” Penn said. “We are deeply honoured to be his publisher, and we will all miss him: his kindness, his warmth, his wisdom, his friendship. His loss is incalculable, but his legacy is immense. His work and his spirit will live on.”

    Born in New York in 1961 to two politically active parents – his father fought in the Spanish civil war with the International Brigades, while his mother was a member of the international Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union – Graeber first attracted academic attention for his teenage hobby of translating Mayan hieroglyphs. After studying anthropology at the State University of New York at Purchase and the University of Chicago, he won a prestigious Fulbright fellowship and spent two years doing anthropological fieldwork in Madagascar.
    David Graeber interview: ‘So many people spend their working lives doing jobs they think are unnecessary’
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    In 2005, Yale decided against renewing his contract a year before he would have secured tenure. Graeber suspected it was because of his politics; when more than 4,500 colleagues and students signed petitions supporting him, Yale instead offered him a year’s paid sabbatical, which he accepted and moved to the UK to work at Goldsmiths before joining LSE. “I guess I had two strikes against me,” he told the Guardian in 2015. “One, I seemed to be enjoying my work too much. Plus I’m from the wrong class: I come from a working-class background.”

    His 2011 book Debt: The First 5,000 Years, made him famous. In it, Graeber explored the violence that lies behind all social relations based on money, and called for a wiping out of sovereign and consumer debts. While it divided critics, it attracted strong sales and praise from everyone from Thomas Piketty to Russell Brand.

    Graeber followed it in 2013 with The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement, about his work with Occupy Wall Street, then The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy in 2015, which was inspired by his struggle to settle his mother’s affairs before she died. A 2013 article, On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs, led to Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, his 2018 book in which he argued that most white-collar jobs were meaningless and that technological advances had led to people working more, not less.

    “Huge swaths of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they believe to be unnecessary. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it,” he told the Guardian in 2015 – even admitting that his own work could be meaningless: “There can be no objective measure of social value.”
    Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria?
    David Graeber
    Read more

    An anarchist since his teens, Graeber was a supporter of the Kurdish freedom movement and the “remarkable democratic experiment” he could see in Rojava, an autonomous region in Syria. He became heavily involved in activism and politics in the late 90s. He was a pivotal figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 – though he denied that he had come up with the slogan “We are the 99%”, for which he was frequently credited.

    “I did first suggest that we call ourselves the 99%. Then two Spanish indignados and a Greek anarchist added the ‘we’ and later a food-not-bombs veteran put the ‘are’ between them. And they say you can’t create something worthwhile by committee! I’d include their names but considering the way police intelligence has been coming after early OWS organisers, maybe it would be better not to,” he wrote.

  • ’The pictures will not go away’: Susan Sontag’s lifelong obsession with suffering

    ... in her great collection On Photography, Sontag had called it a “predatory weapon” and said that “there is aggression implicit in every use of the camera”. Now, she saw the Abu Ghraib pictures being made by people who recorded torture exactly as they recorded everything else.

    “Andy Warhol’s ideal of filming real events in real time – life isn’t edited, why should its record be edited? – has become a norm,” she wrote. “Here I am – waking and yawning and stretching, brushing my teeth, making breakfast, getting the kids off to school.” The camera made all events equal: “The distinction between photograph and reality – as between spin and policy – can easily evaporate.” As Warhol had predicted, it made people equal to their metaphors. “The photographs are us,” she wrote.

  • The Next Great Migration by Sonia Shah – movement is central to human history | Books | The Guardian

    “A wild exodus has begun,” writes Sonia Shah early on in The Next Great Migration. “It is happening on every continent and in every ocean.” In response to the climate crisis, plants and animals that until recently scientists thought were fixed to a particular habitat have been seeking out different surroundings. Butterflies and birds have been edging their way towards the Earth’s poles; frogs and fungi are slowly climbing mountain ranges – while in the oceans, even some coral reefs are moving

    cc @reka ;-)

  • Against Empathy by Paul Bloom ; The Empathy Instinct by Peter Bazalgette – review | Books | The Guardian

    The basis of Bloom’s argument is that fine feelings, like fine words, butter no parsnips. Feeling your pain is all well and good but not necessarily the best trigger of an effective moral response. Indeed, he argues that an ability to intuit another’s feelings might well be an aid to some dubious moral behaviour. A low score on the empathy index is commonly believed to be a feature of psychopathy, but many psychopaths are supremely able to feel as others feel, which is why they make good torturers.

    Bloom cites the character of O’Brien in Orwell’s 1984, whose capacity to discern his victim’s responses is exquisitely refined: “‘You are afraid,’ said O’Brien, watching his face, ‘that in another moment something is going to break. Your especial fear is that it will be your backbone. You have a vivid mental picture of the vertebrae snapping apart and the spinal fluid dripping out of them. That is what you are thinking, is it not, Winston?’” It is through this facility that O’Brien can divine Winston Smith’s greatest dread (a fear he himself has never articulated), rats, and deploy it to destroy him.
    Psychology professor Paul Bloom.
    Psychology professor Paul Bloom. Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian

    Bloom, it should be said, is not in favour of an indifferent heartlessness. Indeed, his trenchant stand against empathy is an attempt to encourage us to think more accurately and more effectively about our relationship to our moral terms. He pins his colours to the mast of rational compassion rather than empathy, and it is a central tenet of the book’s argument – I think a correct one – that there exists a confusion in people’s minds about the meaning of the two terms.

    Surestimons-nous les vertus de l’empathie ?

    Cette synchronisation expressive des émotions répond-elle à la compréhension des émotions de la personne souffrante ? Favorise-t-elle l’altruisme ? Permet-elle de lui apporter un soutien ? Pas forcément… Car si l’empathie est censée permettre à l’être humain de se décentrer de soi pour accueillir autrui, de nombreux travaux montrent que ce partage émotionnel empathique n’est pas nécessairement tourné vers l’autre.

    En effet, selon Decety), plusieurs paramètres sont à prendre en compte, notamment la contagion émotionnelle et la prise de perspective. La contagion émotionnelle est une réponse adaptative permettant à l’être humain de partager la souffrance de l’autre, mais celle-ci peut rester superficielle et égocentrée. En effet, un individu peut éprouver le même état affectif qu’un autre, tout en conservant une certaine distance entre lui et autrui. C’est ce que nous observons très tôt chez l’enfant ; où les pleurs d’un nourrisson vont très vite induire chez les autres nourrissons, témoins de la scène, un déclenchement de pleurs.

    NATION ? – Contre la bienveillance, d’Yves Michaud - le portail des livres et des idées

    Yves Michaud débusque dans cette injonction à la bienveillance un moralisme qui n’a rien à voir avec la loi républicaine. En cela son propos n’est pas sans rappeler les « expressions dévastatrices » de Hegel à propos de la morale
    , dont il démasquait la bonne conscience égoïste et passive. Mais en plus de faire sombrer les citoyens dans le moralisme, la théorie du Care menace le contrat hérité des Lumières, qui énonçait les règles strictes de l’appartenance à la communauté politique. Yves Michaud promeut donc un retour à Rousseau et à tous ses prédécesseurs qui ont défendu la République contractuelle. Il en appelle également à la Constitution française rédigée en 1793, sans la réduire à la Terreur. Car il ne s’agit pas de s’en tenir à la simple Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen. Pour l’auteur, ce qui est en danger c’est d’abord le pouvoir souverain du peuple. Ainsi, la théorie du Care, et tous ces efforts pour une bonne conscience doivent être interprétés comme les symptômes de cette mise à mal de la souveraineté politique du peuple, qui ne font que prospérer sur son impuissance.

    Petit fil du groupe JPVernant sur le #care #bienveillance #empathie #travailleuses.


    Limites de la bienveillance - Mon blog sur l’écologie politique

    De bienveillance en attention aux ressentis, le résultat, c’est que le confort des un-es finit peut-être par compter plus que toutes les valeurs que nous défendons. Quitte à broyer les plus fragiles, les différent·es ou celles et ceux qui sont tout simplement minoritaires dans le groupe, alors que l’intention de départ était plutôt de les protéger… Il est peut-être temps de se munir d’outils plus fiables que l’attention aux ressentis pour nous éviter de mal identifier les violences et la domination : non, la violence n’est pas ce qui fait mal (3) mais une relation à l’autre bien spécifique. L’objectif de bienveillance peut inviter plutôt à l’adoption de procédures formelles pour désactiver l’agressivité susceptible de surgir dans le groupe ou bien à une culture de non-violence basée sur l’observation rigoureuse des dynamiques qui le traversent et qu’on peut nommer « rapports de pouvoir ».

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on transgender row: ’I have nothing to apologise for’ | Books | The Guardian

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian novelist and feminist, has condemned a “language orthodoxy” on the political left after she endured a vitriolic backlash over comments about transgender women.

    The author of Half of a Yellow Sun plunged into a row about identity politics when she suggested in an interview last week that the experiences of transgender women, who she said are born with the privileges the world accords to men, are distinct from those of women born female. She was criticised for implying that trans women are not “real women”.

    But Adichie defended her comments during a public appearance in Washington on Monday night. “This is fundamentally about language orthodoxy,” she told a sellout event organised by the bookshop Politics & Prose. “There’s a part of me that resists this sort of thing because I don’t think it’s helpful to insist that unless you want to use the exact language I want you to use, I will not listen to what you’re saying.

    “From the very beginning, I think it’s been quite clear that there’s no way I could possibly say that trans women are not women. It’s the sort of thing to me that’s obvious, so I start from that obvious premise. Of course they are women but in talking about feminism and gender and all of that, it’s important for us to acknowledge the differences in experence of gender. That’s really what my point is.”

    #transidentité #féminisme #intersectionnalité
    Il était perdu dans un fil...

  • Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez – a world designed for men | Books | The Guardian

    The problem with feminism is that it’s just too familiar. The attention of a jaded public and neophiliac media may have been aroused by #MeToo, with its connotations of youth, sex and celebrity, but for the most part it has drifted recently towards other forms of prejudice, such as transphobia. Unfortunately for women, though, the hoary old problems of discrimination, violence and unpaid labour are still very much with us. We mistake our fatigue about feminism for the exhaustion of patriarchy. A recent large survey revealed that more than two thirds of men in Britain believe that women now enjoy equal opportunities. When the writer and activist Caroline Criado Perez campaigned to have a female historical figure on the back of sterling banknotes, one man responded: “But women are everywhere now!”

    #féminisme #data_féminisme #données #statistiques

  • Shoshana Zuboff : ‘Surveillance capitalism is an assault on human autonomy’

    What began as advertising is now a threat to freedom and democracy argues the author and scholar. Time to wake up - and fight for a different digital future It’s a beautiful day on Hampstead Heath, the last weekend of summer – parliament is still prorogued. In a festival tent at the HowtheLightGetsIn festival, Professor Shoshana Zuboff is talking about her recent book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism : The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. Zuboff stands on a low (...)

    #Google #Facebook #Gmail #algorithme #technologisme #domination #bénéfices #marketing #profiling #surveillance (...)


  • The first fairytales were feminist critiques of patriarchy. We need to revive their legacy | Melissa Ashley | Books | The Guardian

    Women’s lives during this period were deeply constrained. They were married as young as 15 in arranged unions to protect family property, often to men many years older than themselves. They could not divorce, work, nor control their inheritances. And where husbands were allowed mistresses, women could be sent to a convent for two years as punishment for so much as the whiff of rumour at having taken a lover.

    It was in the repressive milieu of the troubled last decade of 17th century France that fairytales crystallised as a genre. Performed and recited in literary salons, from 1697 the fairytales of D’Aulnoy, Comtesse Henriette-Julie de Murat, Mademoiselle L’Héritier and Madame Charlotte-Rose de la Force were gathered into collections and published.

    In La Mercure Galant, Paris’s most fashionable literary magazine, these new stories and their authors were celebrated as the latest vogue. The subversive genre incorporated motifs and tropes from classical myth, the codes of medieval chivalry, the fables of La Fontaine and novels by the early feminist French writers Mademoiselle de Scudéry and Madame la Fayette.

    D’Aulnoy and her peers used exaggeration, parody and references to other stories to unsettle the customs and conventions that constrained women’s freedom and agency. Throughout her writing career, D’Aulnoy’s central theme was the critique of arranged marriage, her heroines repositioned as agents of their own destinies. While the quest continued to be love, it was on the terms of the Baroness’s female readers, whom she took immense care to entertain. Gender roles were reversed; princesses courted princes, bestowing extravagant favours and magnificent gifts – such as a tiny dog encased in a walnut that danced and plays the castanets.

    #contes #fées #littérature #femmes

  • The Whitewashing of “#WhitePeopleDoingYoga” – Mother Jones

    Intéressant récit du conflit entre un musée blanc (mais chut !) et un #artiste indien américain qui dans son œuvre met en lumière l’appropriation culturelle du #yoga (disparition des visages indiens, marchandisation et exotisation de leur art, etc.). Un cas d’école.
    #art #musée #racisme #blanchité

    That was it: My experience with the Asian Art Museum was an exercise in watching white people work out their identity on the back of mine. The platform they seemed to give me, it turned out, wasn’t actually for me—it was for them, a way to fashion my Brownness into something they could wear.

    • ce qu’il y avait dans les crâne des parents selon elle (TW hein) :

      My observation of my father and mother’s actual belief is this: since everyone is naturally gay, it is the straight establishment that makes everyone hung up and therefore limited. Sex early will make people willing to have sex with everyone, which will bring about the utopia while eliminating homophobia and helping people become “who they really are.” It will also destroy the hated nuclear family with its paternalism, sexism, ageism (yes, for pedophiles, that is a thing) and all other “isms.” If enough children are sexualized young enough, gayness will suddenly be “normal” and accepted by everyone, and the old fashioned notions about fidelity will vanish. As sex is integrated as a natural part of every single relationship, the barriers between people will vanish, and the utopia will appear, as “straight culture” goes the way of the dinosaur. As my mother used to say: “Children are brainwashed into believing they don’t want sex.”


    • les raisons :

      Now for all well-meaning people who believe I am extrapolating from my experience to the wider gay community, I would like to explain why I believe this is so: From my experience in the gay community, the values in that community are very different: the assumption is that EVERYONE is gay and closeted, and early sexual experience will prevent gay children from being closeted, and that will make everyone happy.

      If you doubt me, research “age of consent” “Twinks,” “ageism” and the writings of the NUMEROUS authors on the Left who believe that early sexuality is somehow “beneficial” for children.

      Due to my long experience with the BSDM community (bondage/discipline, Sado-Masochism) it is my belief that homosexuality is a matter of IMPRINTING, in the same way that BDSM fantasies are. To the BDSM’er, continued practice of the fantasy is sexually exciting. To the gay person, naturally, the same. However, from what I have seen, neither one creates healing.

      bon xcuse, je dévie un peu ton post, mais pas moyen que je reste seul avec ça ho.

    • The accusations of child abuse levelled at science fiction author Marion Zimmer Bradley, who died in 1999 age 69, are of the most serious kind. Published last week on the blog of Deirdre Saoirse Moen, these accusations come from Bradley’s own daughter, Moira Greyland. They include accounts of physical and sexual abuse, and were later joined by a brutally affecting poem written by Greyland in “honour” of Bradley, Mother’s Hands. Bradley’s reputation when alive had already been considerably damaged by the conviction of her husband on charges of child molestation in 1990.

      Science fiction readers have been vocal in disowning Bradley. Established writers of SF and fantasy including John Scalzi and G Willow Wilson have expressed horror and concern for Bradley’s alleged victims. The wider science fiction community is still absorbing accusations that have been filtering into public consciousness over recent days.


  • Strike 2.0 : how gig economy workers are using tech to fight back

    Up to 10 million people in the UK are in precarious work, juggling low paid jobs as cleaners, Deliveroo riders and Uber drivers. But a movement is under way to rewire the economy from within Fatima, from Guinea-Bissau, wakes up in the early hours of the morning to be in with a chance of being able to use the bathroom at her small house in Stratford, east London, which she shares with nine strangers – some are Italian, she thinks, and some might be eastern European, but nobody socialises as (...)

    #Deliveroo #Uber #travail

  • #No_Logo at 20: have we lost the battle against the total branding of our lives? | Books | The Guardian

    Some political books capture the zeitgeist with such precision that they seem to blur the lines between the page and the real world and become part of the urgent, rapidly unfolding changes they are describing. On 30 November 1999, mere days before the publication of Naomi Klein’s debut, No Logo, the epochal “Battle of Seattle” began. Tens of thousands turned out to protest against the World Trade Organisation, and the global corporate interests it represented, and were met with tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun grenades. Seattle’s mayor declared a state of emergency, and a massive “no protest zone”, as the violence continued, while the chief of police resigned.