Friday News: RIP Sara Craven, National Book Awards, Ibtihaj Muhammad Barbie, and stupid, misogynistic app
Sara Craven 1938-2017 – It’s been a bad few weeks for Romance, with the untimely death of Miranda Neville, and now news of Sara Craven’s passing. Craven wrote for Mills and Boon/Harlequin for more than 40 years, and she was approaching her 100th book. Born in 1938, Craven also won the BBC television series “Mastermind” under her given name, Anne Ashurst, in the late 1990s. Known for her melodramatic narratives in Presents, Craven had been a staple for the line since the 1970s. Her first book, Garden of Dreams, was published in 1975, and her final book, The Innocent’s One-Night Confession, will be published in the spring of 2018. We don’t have any further details of her passing, but hopefully it was peaceful and she was surrounded by loved ones.
Her editor Flo Nicoll, Senior Editor of Mills & Boon Modern, says: ‘We are heartbroken to have lost such an iconic author, and such a life-enhancing, incomparable woman. Annie’s kindness, zest for life and wonderful sense of humour were legendary. I feel truly honoured to have had the privilege of working with her.’ – Mills and Boon blog
Jesmyn Ward is the first woman to win two National Book Awards for Fiction – The National Book Awards were presented Wednesday evening, and Jesmyn Ward won for Sing, Unburied, Sing. This was her second win – she took the fiction award for Salvage the Bones in 2011 – which makes it historic for a number of reasons. Indeed, this year’s presentation was marked by a number of important statements, including this speech by Annie Proulx on the importance of art in times of difficulty, and Ward’s powerful acceptance speech excerpted below. For a full list of nominees and winners, check out the list here, a list that also includes Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties (nominee).
Ward is the first woman to take home the award since 2012 (Louise Erdich), and was part of a general wave: Where last year all four winners were men, this year only one was (Frank Bidart, Poetry). Overall, only 17 women have been awarded the Fiction prize in nearly 70 years — but seven have won it in the last 16, including Ward twice. . . .
In her victory speech at the awards ceremony on Wednesday, Ward spoke frankly and emotionally about the restrictions she’s faced as a female writer of color — and the thrilling change she’s starting to experience. “Throughout my career, when I have been rejected, there was sometimes subtext, and it was this: People will not read your work because these are not universal stories,” she said. “I don’t know whether some doorkeepers felt this way because I wrote about poor people or because I wrote about black people or because I wrote about Southerners … [But] you looked at me, at the people I love and write about, you looked at my poor, my black, my Southern children, women, and men — and you saw yourself. You saw your grief, your love, your losses, your regrets, your joy, your hope.” – Entertainment Weekly and Vulture
Barbie’s first hijab: Meet the new Ibtihaj Muhammad doll – The new Barbie Shero doll is here! The new Barbie Shero doll is here! Okay, it’s not exactly in stores yet, but the doll actually exists and for the very first time, she is wearing a hijab, because she is fashioned after Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. There’s a sweet little video, too, of Muhammad viewing her miniature doppelgänger.
In 2016, Muhammad became the first American to compete in the games while wearing a hijab.
“I’m proud to know that little girls everywhere can now play with a Barbie who chooses to wear hijab! This is a childhood dream come true,” Muhammad said in a tweet. . . .
“Ibtihaj is an inspiration to countless girls who never saw themselves represented, and by honoring her story, we hope this doll reminds them that they can be and do anything,” Sejal Shah Miller, Barbie’s vice president of global marketing, said in a statement. – CNN
Man Develops App to Reveal What Women Look Like Without Makeup – And on the other end of the news spectrum, we have this stupid, misogynistic app that makes me think we may need an app that tells you whether the guy you’re with has this stupid, misogynistic app. It can be called ‘You are an asshole who’s never going to get the chance to see what I look like without makeup – and I look fucking beautiful, so suck it!’ Or, you know, something like that.
MakeApp is the brainchild of once-Kremlin-linked, Russian founder Ashot Gabrelyanov. For what it’s worth, I thought the AI itself worked pretty well on my face. (The app also has filters that add a layer of makeup. These worked, uh, significantly less well.) But it’s MakeApp as a concept, not a technology, that’s both laughable and problematic. After all, the makeup-free version is just another filter. It’s no more or less “real” than a selfie that’s been run through Facetune or VSCO or tweaked a bit with Instagram. And the idea that somebody might need an app to help them figure out what somebody’s face — celebrity or normie — looks like without makeup is comical. But, hey, better safe than sorry. You never know who’s out there with a bag full of Glossier trying to scam you. – New York Magazine