The Best American Magazine Writing 2021 presents outstanding journalism and commentary that reckon with urgent topics, including COVID-19 and entrenched racial inequality. In “The Plague Year,” Lawrence Wright details how responses to the pandemic went astray (New Yorker). Lizzie Presser reports on “The Black American Amputation Epidemic” (ProPublica). In powerful essays, the novelist Jesmyn Ward processes her grief over her husband’s death against the backdrop of the pandemic and antiracist uprisings (Vanity Fair), and the poet Elizabeth Alexander considers “The Trayvon Generation” (New Yorker). Aymann Ismail delves into how “The Store That Called the Cops on George Floyd” dealt with the repercussions of the fatal call (Slate). Mitchell S. Jackson scrutinizes the murder of Ahmaud Arbery and how running fails Black America (Runner’s World).
The anthology features remarkable reporting, such as explorations of the cases of children who disappeared into the depths of the U.S. immigration system for years (Reveal) and Oakland’s efforts to rethink its approach to gun violence (Mother Jones). It includes selections from a Public Books special issue that investigate what 2020’s overlapping crises reveal about the future of cities. Excerpts from Marie Claire’s guide to online privacy examine topics from algorithmic bias to cyberstalking to employees’ rights. Aisha Sabatini Sloan’s perceptive Paris Review columns explore her family history in Detroit and the toll of a brutal past and present. Sam Anderson reflects on a unique pop figure in “The Weirdly Enduring Appeal of Weird Al Yankovic” (New York Times Magazine). The collection concludes with Susan Choi’s striking short story “The Whale Mother” (Harper’s Magazine).
Edited by Sid Holt for the American Society of Magazine Editors. Introduction by Clara Jeffery, editor in chief of Mother Jones.
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There's a little something here for everyone, I really liked the earlier writings the best. As a subscribe and fan of The Atlantic, I was pleased to find some articles make their way into this collection. It's hard to classify and summarize something like this, although I don't think you should feel compelled to read every article that is in this collection. Nor do you need to do it in order. There's a lot here you can read, put down, and come back to later. Definitely one to soak in and let it bounce around your mind as you think about the implications and effects of the authors' ideas.