Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

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Category: Akashic Insider

“Calculating the Price Per Pound of an Incarcerated Black Man’s Flesh,” by Ricardo Cortés

In 2000, I was struck by a simple infographic in Wired magazine comparing earnings between several major industries. I was surprised by the low ranking of movies with respect to their command of popular culture. Moreover I was moved by how the bar graphs told a story; I tore out the page and taped it to my studio wall. Five years later, as I was formulating the idea of an illustrated book about coffee and drug prohibition, I read that coffee was the second most-traded commodity after oil. It seemed fantastic that coffee was that popular. I began to research the trails of several interrelated commercial, cultural, and political behemoths, and I imagined ways to compare them . . .

“On Writing a Real Life Murder,” by David McConnell, author of American Honor Killings

Some artists feel a touch of envy for the crystalline truths of science; what they offer in the way of truth can seem as mushy and dubious as wine-speak. I happen to be an admirer of connoisseurship (though a lot of people scorn it as elitist nowadays), but when I decided to try nonfiction after cutting my teeth on fiction, I wanted to be a little more science-like. For one thing, real world murders—the subject of American Honor Killings—shook up my notions of refinement. They shook ME up, frankly….


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