The Best American Magazine Writing 2019
by Edited by Sid Holt for the American Society of Magazine Editors
Pub Date 10 Dec 2019
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This year’s National Magazine Awards finalists and winners include outstanding writing that addresses urgent topics such as justice, gender, power, and violence, both at home and abroad. Personal pieces explore the toll of mass incarceration, including Reginald Dwayne Betts’s “Getting Out” (New York Times Magazine) and Robert Wright’s “Getting Out of Prison Meant Leaving Dear Friends Behind” (Marshall Project with Vice). In the Atlantic and the New Yorker, writers and critics examine prominent political figures: Franklin Foer’s “American Hustler” explores Paul Manafort’s career of corruption; Jill Lepore considers the emergence of Ruth Bader Ginsburg; and Caitlin Flanagan and Doreen St. Félix reflect on the Kavanaugh hearings and #MeToo. The anthology features remarkable reporting, including the story of a teenager who tried to get out of MS-13, only to face deportation (ProPublica); an account of the genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar (Politico); and a sweeping California Sunday Magazine profile of an almond and pistachio agribusiness empire. Journalists explore the tendrils of environmental damage, from invasive lionfish (Smithsonian) to the omnipresence of plastic (National Geographic). Leslie Jamison crafts a portrait of the Museum of Broken Relationships (Virginia Quarterly Review). A pair of never-before-published conversations illuminates the state of the American magazine: New Yorker writer Ben Taub speaks to Eric Sullivan of Esquire about pursuing a career as a reporter, alongside his piece investigating how the Iraqi state is fueling a resurgence of ISIS. And Karolina Waclawiak of BuzzFeed News interviews McSweeney’s editor Claire Boyle about challenges and opportunities for fiction at small magazines. The collection concludes with a McSweeney’s story by Lesley Nneka Arimah, a magical-realist tale charged with feminist allegory.
Sid Holt is chief executive of the American Society of Magazine Editors and a former editor at Rolling Stone and Adweek magazines.
Adam Moss was the editor in chief of New York magazine for fifteen years until stepping down in 2019. He was elected to the Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame in March.