Writers to Watch: Fall 2015: Anticipated Debuts -Publishers Weekly has posted a list of debut novels for fall, and frankly some of the stories of how these books got published sound as interesting as the books themselves. Ruth Galm’s Into the Valley, for example, was published from Soho Press’ slush pile after Galm had been turned down by 60 agents. Although some of the books offer a fresh premise, at least. Take Christian Kracht’s book, Imperium, which is described this way: “set in 1902, it follows August Engelhardt (based on a real-life figure), a Teutonic explorer who sets out for the South Seas to create a coconut-based utopia.” Naomi Jackson began The Star Side of Bird Hill in the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and the novel explores shifting cultural identities:
The Star Side of Bird Hill centers on two young sisters, Phaedra and Dionne, who, in the summer of 1989, leave behind their native Brooklyn to live with their grandmother in Barbados. Jackson, whose parents are from the West Indies, drew on her memories of visiting Barbados and Antigua as a child. “I definitely experienced that cultural dissonance where you think that you’re really Caribbean, and then you actually go home to the Caribbean, and people think you’re very American. I wanted to work with that discomfort,” she says. –Publishers Weekly
Kenya to Require Public Wi-Fi Users to Register With Phone Number – New proposed governmental regulations in Kenya, if passed and enforced as written, will require registration of wireless-capable devices with their ISPs or the Kenya Network Information Centre. These regulations will pretty much eliminate the possibility of anonymous online access, substantially increase the costs of accessing the internet, and leave public computers vulnerable to security breaches.
ITU statistics put Kenya’s Internet penetration at 39% and mobile phone subscriptions at 71% of the population. The country is a regional technology hub with a strong online presence. Many Kenyans access the Internet from public wireless hotspots and cafes. Its government, however, is also embroiled in conflict with militant group Al-Shabaab, making cybersecurity an administrative priority. Kenya will also soon play host to a center for coordinating the fight against cybercrime in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a free trade area.
Requiring Kenyans to effectively register with personal details in order to use wireless Internet is a blow to the right to anonymity, but it is also burdensome on those seeking to offer widespread broadband access. It assumes criminal intent of those who, through economic circumstances or otherwise, choose to access the Internet in public spaces, rather than at home. Compulsory logging and obligatory surveillance cameras add to a draconian level of invasive monitoring that will primarily affect innocent Internet users in the pursuit of a tiny subset of criminals.–Electronic Frontier Foundation
Tom Petty on Past Confederate Flag Use: ‘It Was Downright Stupid’ -A frank essay from Southern rock musician Tom Petty on his use of the Confederate flag at several points in his career. Petty’s confession centers on his thoughtlessness and his use of the flag as a “marketing device” for a record. And given Petty’s reputation as a thoughtful and hardly conservative artist, his admission is particularly revealing, and likely indicative of much reflexive defense of “the South” that kept the flag flying near the South Carolina state capitol for so long:
Beyond the flag issue, we’re living in a time that I never thought we’d see. The way we’re losing black men and citizens in general is horrific. What’s going on in society is unforgivable. As a country, we should be more concerned with why the police are getting away with targeting black men and killing them for no reason. That’s a bigger issue than the flag. Years from now, people will look back on today and say, “You mean we privatized the prisons so there’s no profit unless the prison is full?” You’d think someone in kindergarten could figure out how stupid that is. We’re creating so many of our own problems.–Rolling Stone
HARPER LEE’S LETTERS TO HER EDITOR AFTER THE PUBLICATION OF TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD – I’m not even going to spoil these with a quote (although I’m especially fond of the 1974 letter). Just go read and enjoy. –McSweeney’s