ویژه

تأمین تجهیزات مورد نیاز رستوران سنتی

رستوران ساز از ابتدای شکل‌گیری ایده برای سرمایه‌گذاری و راه اندازی رستوران تا زمان به ثمر نشتن پروژه، در کنار شما می‌ماند.

منبع :

http://restoransaz.com/run-a-traditional-restaurant/#

 

تجهیزات رستوران سنتی

البته بهتر است که این نکته را بدانید که برای راه اندازی چنین رستوران هایی علاوه بر مکان های سنتی به تجهیزات و امکانات دیگری نیاز می باشد که اصلی ترین و عمده ترین آنها داشتن تجهیزات برای آشپزخانه صنعتی؛ تجهیزات برای غذاهای سنتی، برخی از لوازم برای غذاهای سریع و همچنین تجهیزات کافی شاپ می باشد.

قبل از خرید تجهیزات برای رستوران، ابتدا منوی خود را به صورت حرفه ای مشخص نمایید. زیرا برای پخت هر غذا به تجهیزات و وسایلی نیاز است و از این رو این وسایل باید بر اساس منو تهیه شود. در غیر این صورت بخشی از این بودجه به هدر می رود و دوباره باید یک سری از وسایل را تهیه نمود که این دوباره کاری است.

موارد زیر از عمده ترین تجهیزات لازم برای راه اندازی یک رستوران سنتی است.

  • پاتیل برنج خیس کن
  • اجاق پلوپز
  • پاتیل سرخ کن
  • چهار شعله فردار رستورانی
  • میز کار استیل
  • سینک ظرفشویی صنعتی
  • دستگاه صنعتی آسیاب قهوه
  • کابینت دیواری
  • دستگاه اسپرسو ساز
  • یخچال و فریزر صنعتی

بهترین مارک سشوار

بهترین مارک سشوار کدام است؟

بدون شک سشوار یکی از لوازم مورد نیاز هر شخصی میباشد چراکه مستقیماً با زیبایی او در ارتباط است.

اما اینکه بهترین مارک سشوار کدام است واقعاً یکی از سخت ترین انتخاب ها میباشد ، شاید ما بتوانیم ده ها مورد از بهترین سشوارهای جهان را به شما معرفی کنیم اما باز هم شما به دنبال خرید 1 سشوار هستید پس سهی کردیم تا بهترین سشوار را به شما معرفی کنیم پس با ما همراه باشید.

توجه داشته باشید که چیزی که میخوانید حاصل بیش از 1 هفته تحقیق در مورد انتخاب بهترین سشوار میباشد


 

مرحله 1

مرحله اول بررسی بهترین مارک سشوار

بهترین سشوار در دیجی کالا

ما در ابتدا فروشگاه های اینترنتی خارجی و داخلی را بررسی کردیم که شامل دیجی کالا ، آمازون و… میباشد ، در این بررسی به این نتیجه رسیدیم که شما بهترین سشواری که میتوانید خریداری کنید سشوار سايونا مدل SY-1300 میباشد. در این مرحله ما بیشترین فروش و بیشترین رضایت کاربران را مد نظر داشتیم ، این سشواری بود که کاربران بیش از هر سشوار دیگری آن را توصیه کرده بودند.


 

مرحله دوم

مرحله دوم بررسی بهترین مارک سشوار

در مرحله دوم سری به تعمیرات لوازم برقی زدیم و چند سوال از آنها در مورد این سشوار پرسیدیم که در زیر آنها را درج کرده ایم :

تعمیرات

سوال اول : تفاوت این سشوار نسبت به دیگر سشوار ها چیست؟

جواب : این سشوار از بدنه مقاوم تر و البته از کیفیت ساخت بهترین برخوردار است. ما در بسیاری از موارد مشاهده میکنیم که سشوار های معمولی با قیمیت بسیار کم مقاومت و کارایی بیشتری از برند های مطرح از خود نشان میدهند.

 

سوال دوم : با اینکه بیشتری خرید از این سشوار در فروشگاه های اینترنتی انجام شده آیا تا به حال شده فردی این سشوار را برای رفع خرابی نزد شما بیاورد؟

جواب : با اینکه لوازم برقی غیر قابل اعتماد است و هیچ ضمانتی نمیتواند برای آن در نظر گرفت اما تا به الان هیچ موردی از این سشوار ندیده ام که برای تعمیر بیاورند نه در مغازه های خودم و نه در مغازه های همکاران ندیده ام.

 

سوال سوم : در صورت خرابی این سشوار لوازم یدکی آن موجود است و میتوان آنها را در اسرع وقت تهیه کرد؟

جواب : اولاً که این سشوار باید گارانتی داشته باشد پس خدمات پس از فروش هم دارد و میتوانید به راحتی از نمایندگی های این سشوار قطعات مورد نیاز را تهیه کنید دوم اینکه در صورتی که قطعات آن یافت نشود سشوار به نوعی ساخته شده است که میتوان قطعات مشابه را در آن به کار برد پس جای نگرانی نیست.

 

در این مرحله نیز به این نتیجه رسیدیم که سايونا مدل SY-1300 بهترین سشوار برای خرید میباشد چراکه خرابی از این سشوار دیده نشده است و امکان تعمیر آن به آسانی وجود دارد.


 

مرحله سوم

مرحله سوم بررسی بهترین مارک سشوار

در مرحله سوم از این بررسی رفیتم سر وقت برنامه دیوار تا ببینیم آیا دست دوم این سشوار را برای فروش قرار داده اند یا اینکه خریداران به اندازه ای از آن راضی هستند که هیچ کس حاظر به فروش آن نیست.

دیوار

بعد از کلی جست جو در شهر های مختلف عجیب بود که هیچ سشواری به نام سايونا مدل SY-1300 در آنها درج نشده بود یعنی هیچ کس برای فروش این سشوار را قرار نداده بود و این یعنی همه از آن راضی هستند ، البته برخی از فروشگاه ها این سشوار را به صورت آکبند در دیوار فروش میکردند که این امری عادی است.

در این مرحله نیز دیدیم که هیچ شخصی دست دوم این سشوار را برای فروش قرار نداده است یعنی تمامی خریداران از آن راضی بوده اند.


مرحله 4

مرحله چهارم بررسی بهترین مارک سشوار

در این مرحله سشوار را به بررسی قابلیت های و مزایای این سشوار پرداختیم تا ببینیم چه مزیت هایی دارد:

  • توان 2000 وات که برای یک سشوار در استفاده های خانگی و همچنین در استفاده های حرفه ای همانند فروشگاه ها نیز کاملاً ایده آل میباشد.
  • موتور قابل تعمیر در این سشوار یکی دیگر از مزایای کمیاب در بین سشوار های جدید میباشد که در صورت خرابی میتوانید با کمترین هزینه آن را تعمیر کنید این در صورتی است که موتور دیگر سشوار ها معمولاً قابل تعمیر نیست.
  • دارای فیلتر های هوا و همچنین تولید یون میباشد که برای حالت دهی به موها نیز در این سشوار وجود دارد که کاملاً آن را برای استفاده در حالت حرفه ای نیز آماده کرده است
  • وزن این سشوار معادل 700 گرم میباشد که نسبت به دیگر سشوارهای حرفه ای بسیار کمتر است و این موجب عدم خستگی شما در سشوار کشیدن های طولانی نیز خواهد بود.
  • طول سیم برق این سشوار دو متر میباشد که معمولاً در سشوارهای دیگر 1 متر میباشد.
  • دارای 2 حالت کنترل سرعت و 3 حالت کنترل گرما میباشد همچنین دارای فشار باد قوی برای براشینگ نیز هست که این سشوار را به یک سشوار تمام عیار تبدیل کرده است.
  • قیمتی بسیار مناسب تر از رقبا که بسیاری از این رقبا مارک های معروف جهانی نیز هستند.

 

نتیجه این بررسی ها موفقیت سشوار سايونا مدل SY-1300 نسبت به دیگر سشوار های موجود در بازار ایران بود. و ما هم اکنون به شدت توصیه میکنیم اگر قصد خرید یک سشوار عالی با قیمتی بسیار مناسب را دارید این مورد در بین تمامی سشوار های موجود انتخاب عالی و ایده آل میباشد. در ادامه میتوانید این محصول را با لینکی که قرار داده ایم با تخفیف ویژه از دیجی کالا خریدای کنید.


 

تخفیف ویژه

خرید سشوار سايونا مدل SY-1300 با تخفیف ویژه از دیجی به همراه گارانتی را نیز برای شما عزیزان فراهم کرده ایم که از طریق لینک زیر میتوانید به راحتی این محصول را خریداری نمایید:

 

 برچسب ها

راهنمای خرید بهترین عطر دیور زنانه

راهنمای بهترین عطر دیور زنانه

استفاده از بهترین عطر دیور زنانه شخصیت هر فرد را نشان می دهد. این محصولات با عطر دلپذیر خود می توانند نقش موثری در جذب افراد داشته باشند. عطرها همچنین نشان می دهند که مردم نسبت به یکدیگر چه احساسی دارند ، این همان چیزی است که دوست دارد بصورت خصوصی مورد استفاده قرار گیرد. انواع مختلفی از این محصول وجود دارد که با توجه به دوام آنها می توان طبقه بندی کرد.

علاوه بر این ، عطرها و ادکلن های مورد استفاده شما حاوی سه مرحله است که ما آنها را به عنوان عطر می شناسیم.

انواع نت ها

نت اولیه: این نت اولین قدم است که در اختیار شما قرار می گیرد. از آنجا که عطر می تواند بر پایه چندین میوه یا گیاه باشد ، نت اولیه معمولاً بوی تند دارد.
توجه: میانه مرحله ای است که عطر بوی واقعی آن را نشان می دهد و بسیار مطلوب خواهد بود.
نت پایانی: در این یادداشت عطر دیگری رایحه خود را از دست می دهد. بوی بد دارد و شاید همه آن را نتوانند بو کنند.

بسته به محیطی که در آن عطر و ادکلن را اسپری می کنید ، دوام آن متفاوت است. لکه هایی از قبیل قفسه سینه ، گردن و مچ طولانی ترین طول خواهد بود. اگر به دنبال خرید عطر با دوام بالا هستید ، بهتر است از این نقاط حساس استفاده کنید. در اینجا انواع مختلفی از عطر ، ادکلن و ادو پارافوم برای آقایان و خانم ها ارائه شده است که می توانید از بهترین عطر دیور زنانه خریداری کنید.

بهترین عطر دیور زنانه  مدل J’Adore 2011 حجم 100 میلی لیتر

 

 

بهترین عطر دیور زنانه همیشه به دلیل کیفیت و دوام بسیار مشهور بوده اند. یکی از عطرهای “Dior” ، که پس از معرفی آن در سراسر جهان رواج پیدا کرد ، در سال 1999 ساخته شد. این ادو پارفوم “J’adore” نام دارد.

بیشتر محبوبیت جادور به دلیل وجود چندین نسخه از آن است. بطری این عطر بسیار جذاب و زنانه است. رنگ طلایی شیشه احساس لوکس را به بیننده منتقل می کند. این عطر برای روزهای بهار و پاییز توصیه می شود. طراحی و فرمولاسیون این عطر توسط عطر برجسته “کالیس بکر” انجام شده است.

گردن طلای بطری به ابعاد کشیده و طاق زیبایی دارد که باعث می شود شکل بطری به طرز عجیبی منحصر به فرد باشد. سر بطری مانند یک جواهر گرانبها می درخشد. بعد از پاشیدن جادو بر روی پوست و ناحیه پالس خود ، بوی نارنجی ، گلابی ، هلو ، طالبی ، گل ماگنولیا و نارنگی نارنگی را حس خواهید کرد. این ترکیب شیرین و میوه ای هیجان و شادی را به روح شما تزریق می کند. پس از مدتی نتهای میانی وارد می شوند و نت های ابتدای کار را جایگزین می کنند.

مشخصات عطر و ادکلن زنانه دیور مدل J’Adore 2011 حجم 100 میلی لیتر

  • نوع رایحه: شیرین , گرم , خوراکی , طبیعت , گل
  • ساختار ریحه: میوه , وانیل , چوب , مرکبات , اقیانوس , گل
  • نت اولیه : نارنج، گلابی، هلو، طالبی، گل ماگنولیا و پرتقال ماندارین
  • نت میانه: گل مریم، آلوی سیاه، بنفشه، ارکیده، فریزیا، یاسمین، زنبق دره و رز
  • حجم 100 میلی لیتر
  • عطر ساز Calice Becker
  • کشور مبدا برند ، فرانسه است.
  • مناسب برای بانوان
  • نت پایانی: وانیل، مشک، چوب سدر و تمشک سیاه

 




بهترین عطر دیور زنانه مدل Addict حجم 100 میلی لیتر

 

در سال 2014 ، مارک معروف “دیور” یکی دیگر از شاهکارهای خود را معرفی کرد. به این ادو پارفوم “معتاد” گفته می شود. فرمولاسیون و طراحی این عطر توسط “Francois Demachy” انجام شده است. با نگاهی به شیشه Edict ، اولین ویژگی ای که چشم شما را به خود جلب می کند ، ساختار باریک و نسبتاً باریک آن است.

بطری به رنگ آبی تیره طراحی شده است. روی بطری ، نام بهترین عطر دیور زنانه Dior Addict به وضوح در طلا قابل مشاهده است. روی موجود در بطری از یک قسمت فلزی ، به رنگ طلای ساخته شده است که به خوبی با نوار طلایی رنگی که گردن بطری را به صورت افقی احاطه کرده است ، می رود. به محض اینکه برای اولین بار Edict را روی لباس یا ناحیه پالس خود اسپری کنید ، به سرعت عطر و بوی برگهای ماندارین و شکوفه های نارنج را حس خواهید کرد.

مشخصات ادو پرفیوم زنانه دیور مدل Addict حجم 100 میلی لیتر

  • نوع رایحه: شیرین , گرم , خوراکی , طبیعت , شرقی , گل
  • ساختار رایحه: میوه , وانیل , چوب , مرکبات , خاک و زمین , گیاهان معطر , گل
  • نت اولیه : برگ درخت ماندارین و شکوفه‌ی پرتقال
  • نت میانه: گل یاسمین
  • حجم 100 میلی لیتر
  • عطر ساز : Francois Demachy
  • کشور مبدا برند ، فرانسه است.
  • مناسب برای بانوان
  • نت پایانی: وانیل

 




بهترین ادکلن زنانه دیور مدل Hypnotic Poison حجم 100 میلی لیتر

 

یکی از بهترین عطر دیور زنانه شرقی تولید شده توسط مارک فرانسوی “دیور” “Hypnotic Poison” نام دارد. این عطر در سال 1998 به بازار معرفی شد. عطر معروف مشهور Annick Menardo این عطر را طراحی و فرموله کرده است. به نظر می رسد هیپنوتیزم مسموم با رایحه ای شیرین ، میوه ای و گرم آن برای شب های سرد پاییز و زمستان بسیار مناسب باشد.

بوی وانیل یکی از ویژگی های اصلی این عطر 100 میلی لیتری است. وقتی به بطری این عطر نگاه می کنید ، اولین چیزی که چشم شما را به خود جلب می کند ، سیاه اطراف بطری است. با رنگ سیاه اطراف بطری هماهنگی خوبی در بطری ایجاد کرده است. در اطراف گردن بطری روبان چرمی قرار دارد که یک پلاک سیاه به آن وصل شده است. در صفحه سیاه ، علامت CD نقش برجسته و نمایش داده می شود. روی بطری و در قسمت قرمز رنگ ، نام این عطر و کمی پایین تر از آن را مشاهده خواهید کرد ، لوگوی Dior است که به رنگ طلایی چاپ شده است. برای پیدا کردن جادوی این عطر که مانند سم خواب آور است ، باید آن را اسپری کنید.

مشخصات ادو پرفیوم زنانه دیور مدل Hypnotic Poison حجم 100 میلی لیتر

  • نوع رایحه: شیرین , گرم , خوراکی , طبیعت , شرقی , گل
  • ساختار رایحه: میوه , ادویه , وانیل , چوب , گیاهان معطر , گل
  • نت اولیه : زردآلو، آلوی سیاه و نارگیل
  • نت میانه: گل مریم، زنبق دره، یاسمین، رز، چوب رزوود برزیلی و زیره سیاه
  • حجم 100 میلی لیتر
  • عطر ساز : Annick Menardo
  • کشور مبدا برند ، فرانسه است.
  • مناسب برای بانوان
  • نت پایانی: چوب صندل، بادام، وانیل و مشک

 




بهترین عطر دیور زنانه مدل Dune حجم 100 میلی‌ لیتر

 

بهترین عطر دیور زنانه بندرت تولید می شود. اما با این تعداد کم ، کیفیت بسیار بالایی دارند. یکی از این عطرهای زنانه توسط برند فرانسوی “دیور” تولید می شود. عطر مورد نظر “Dune” نام دارد. Dionysus بوی گرم دارد و برای استفاده در پاییز و زمستان توصیه می شود.

ادکلن توسط دو عطر ساز مشهور ، ژان لوئیس سیوزاک و نجلا باربیر طراحی و تدوین شده است. بطری دیون بسیار دلپذیر و زیبا است. روی بطری نام Dune و لوگوی کریستین دیور را مشاهده خواهید کرد. مایع درون بطری را می توان از طریق شیشه روشن آن مشاهده کرد. درپوش بطری کروی به خوبی روی شیشه نصب شده است. این عطر دارای 100 میلی لیتر حجم است و شما را از خرید بهترین عطر دیور زنانه جدید برای مدت طولانی باز می دارد.

بعد از پاشیدن Dune روی پوست و ناحیه پالس خود ، عطر و بوی گلهای سانتوری ، پرتقالهای نارنگی ، پرتقال و گلاب برزیلی را مشاهده خواهید کرد. این ترکیب مرکبات و چوب باعث شادابی و طراوت می شود. پس از مدتی ، این نتایج اولیه جای خود را به نتایج میانی می دهد. نت های میانی عنبیه ، یاس ، یلانگ یلانگ و گل رز است.

مشخصات ادکلن زنانه دیور مدل Dune حجم 100 میلی‌ لیتر

  • نوع رایحه: شیرین , تند , گرم , خوراکی , شرقی , گل
  • ساختار رایحه: وانیل , چوب , مرکبات , صمغ , گیاهان معطر , گل
  • نت اولیه : گل صدتومانی، پرتقال ماندارین، نارنج و چوب رزوود برزیلی
  • نت میانه: گل زنبق، یاسمین، یلانگ‌یلانگ و رز
  • حجم 100 میلی لیتر
  • عطر ساز : Jean-Louis Sieuzac – Nejla Barbir
  • کشور مبدا برند ، فرانسه است.
  • مناسب برای بانوان
  • نت پایانی: چوب صندل، عنبر، گیاه پاتچولی، مشک، صمغ بنزویین، وانیل و خزه‌ی اوک‌موس

سورس مطلب

Can Anything Be Done to Rein In the President’s Speech?

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP / Getty

This president doesn’t speak like other presidents, that much is clear. Since taking office in January 2017, President Donald Trump has used the bully pulpit in ways that break, often dramatically, from the rhetorical norms that preceded him. The president seemed to cross a new red line this week, as he took to Twitter to suggest—without legal foundation—postponing the November election. This latest rhetorical escalation has increased the urgency of a long-simmering question: Can anything be done to rein in the speech of a president unmoored from reality and unmoved by decency?

The answer is yes, and it hinges on understanding both the nature of presidential speech, and that speech’s dependence on a variety of mechanisms for actually reaching the public.

Of course, how a president speaks isn’t fixed; for more than a century, presidents have used evolving channels and styles of communication to speak to the nation, to shape public opinion, and to rally support for their positions. And however they choose to reach the public, presidents do not go it alone; they rely on intermediaries, who are crucial to the amplification of presidential messages.

Teddy Roosevelt, who coined the term bully pulpit (by which he meant, in the usage of the time, something like “great platform”), well understood this. He was a master of developing close and reciprocal relationships with members of the press, which was crucial to turning his vision of progressive reform into concrete policy. Decades later, a different Roosevelt—Franklin Delano—did this in his own way, guided by the technology of his time, making novel use of the radio as he attempted to steer the country through war and depression. And Ronald Reagan, drawing on his background in Hollywood, tapped the power of television as well as the print media to articulate and advance a very different vision of the role of government in American life.

As these examples underscore, presidential speech is not self-amplifying. People often talk about the bully pulpit as though the president simply possesses it by virtue of the officeas if it’s a megaphone handed to him along with the nuclear codes. But that formulation obscures the presence of a cast of intermediaries, and it overlooks their very real agency.

While members of the press and other intermediaries have more often than not served as willing participants in conveying presidential messages, there’s nothing inevitable about that. And in fact, when a president’s speech becomes sufficiently dangerous and destructive, intermediaries and other institutional players can choose not to assist in amplifying it—and can even engage in counter-speech of their own. Over the past few months, as President Trump’s rhetoric has appeared more and more to threaten discrete groups and basic rule-of-law values, intermediaries and other individuals have begun to respond in new ways. Twitter has started labeling presidential tweets it deems sufficiently false or inciting. News networks are choosing not to broadcast the president’s coronavirus briefings live. And the print media have begun to move beyond euphemism in describing the president’s lies.

These are important developments. Rhetoric is a key source of presidential power, but that power is not self-executing, and it may be subject to checks from unexpected quarters.

That President Trump would speak in a different register from previous presidents has been clear since at least as far back as his dark and dystopian inaugural address. He has addressed himself to a subset of the political community, not all of it; he has trafficked in fear and division, not uplift and unity; he has used his public platform less to offer and defend a policy agenda than to attack targets, which have included journalists, current and former executive-branch officials, private individuals, and federal judges. A recent New York Times analysis found that more than half of the president’s tweets from January 2017 to November 2019 were attacks. He has also been a font of lies and misinformation; at the time of this writing, The Washington Post’s running tally counts more than 20,000 presidential lies over the past three and a half years.

The president’s speech is, of course, not merely speech. Some of his words have had significant material consequences—entirely aside from the administration’s policy initiatives. A recent ABC News analysis identified 54 acts of violence in which the perpetrator explicitly invoked President Trump. The president’s bellicose foreign-policy rhetoric has worsened relations with adversaries like Iran and North Korea, and alienated allies across the globe. His spurious charges of absentee-voting fraud may already be causing states to underprepare for a heavily absentee-ballot-based November general election, will likely deter many voters from casting absentee ballots, and appear to many to be designed to sow doubts about the integrity of election results. His dangerous rhetoric around COVID-19, including his promotion of unproven or discredited treatment methods and his shifting messaging regarding basic public-health measures such as mask wearing, has no doubt impacted the behavior of private citizens and public officials, with the potential to result in tens of thousands of additional preventable deaths.  

These last two points are key. With the country still in the grip of a once-in-a-century pandemic,and an election ahead in which polls show the president down nationwide against Joe Biden, the president’s always-aberrant rhetoric style is regularly traversing more dangerous, destructive, and demagogic terrain. And as the potentially catastrophic consequences of the president’s rhetoric come into sharper focus, so too do some of the ways individuals and institutions might respond.

Twitter—the company, not its millions of users—has recently emerged as an important player in this sphere. From early in his administration, the president has proudly claimed he uses Twitter to take his message “directly” to the American people. But Twitter is not a purely passive conveyor of information, and it has recently begun, in small but significant ways, to do to the president’s Twitter feed some version of what it has long done to others’: moderate. Twitter’s first intervention took the form of a warning flag it appended to two presidential tweets that contained misinformation about mail-in ballots: One claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to a “rigged election”; the other falsely claimed that California would send ballots to all individuals living in the state, when only registered voters will receive such ballots. The president responded to this warning with a dashed-off attempt to use the apparatus of government to bend Twitter to his will, issuing an executive order calling on federal agencies to revise their interpretations of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which has long provided a liability shield to internet platforms, including Twitter. The order, though of dubious constitutionality and in any event largely hortatory, was likely intended, at least in part, to dissuade Twitter from any further salvos. But the company doesn’t appear to have been deterred; since the issuance of the EO, the platform has only ratcheted up its responses to the president, including placing warning labels atop presidential tweets that violate the site’s rules about threatening harm against identifiable groups.  The labels require users to click in order to access the content.

Given Twitter’s centrality to Trump’s presidential ethos, this was a significant development. And although Facebook has so far conspicuously declined to label any of the president’s postings there, it is facing significant pressure, including from within, that could well lead it to change course.

Traditional media, too, have begun to function as something other than passive amplifiers of presidential utterances. Consider the decision by a number of networks to stop broadcasting the president’s coronavirus briefings live. The briefings “rated,” in the industry’s term, but by mid-April, a number of networks had stopped carrying them, perhaps in response to the president downplaying the threat of the virus, his promotion of unproven treatment methods such as hydroxychloroquine, and his outlandish suggestions that disinfectants or ultraviolet light be applied directly to (or within) the body.

The press has also, after initially wrestling with how to treat a president so prone to untruths, begun to call out his lies directly. Trump began his presidency with a flurry of lies about the 2016 election, insisting that his massive popular-vote loss was attributable to millions of fraudulently cast votes. Even at the time, some outlets, including The New York Times, referred to those claims as lies. But the stakes of those backward-looking lies were, in national terms, relatively low: the president’s vanity, perhaps aspects of his legacy. As the president has begun deploying similar rhetoric in the context of the approaching November election, the stakes are far higher: A president who lies about an upcoming election in ways he perceives as advantageous to his electoral prospects might move from rhetoric to action, including the use of federal resources, to shore up his electoral prospects. So it is all the more pressing that the president’s false claims about voting and this election not be permitted to stand unchallenged.

Beyond online platforms and traditional media, we have seen the emergence of an important kind of counter-speech from senior members of the president’s own administration, who have publicly resisted some of the president’s rhetoric around both the protests against police violence still roiling the country, and COVID-19. After the president, accompanied by senior military leadership, forcibly cleared Lafayette Square of protesters for a photo op, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley issued an extraordinary public apology for his presence at the event, one that strongly, if implicitly, criticized the president’s decisions. Defense Secretary Mark Esper also broke publicly with the president, expressing his opposition to use of the Insurrection Act, which the president had threatened to invoke to quell protests. Soon after that, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a blistering statement describing Trump as an existential threat to the Constitution.

Members of the president’s own administration have also resisted some of his messaging around the coronavirus: Anthony Fauci has criticized the president’s language about the virus, as well as his endorsement of unproven treatment methods. Looking beyond the pandemic, last month saw the extraordinary testimony of two sitting Department of Justice officials, who described a culture of cronyism and political favoritism inside the DOJ. The former Roger Stone prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky detailed the sequence of events surrounding the department’s decision to cast aside ordinary DOJ protocols and principles—partly in response to a 3 a.m. presidential tweet—in order to provide Stone with preferential treatment. And the career lawyer John Elias described a baseless antitrust probe into an auto-emissions agreement, opened solely in response to presidential rage tweets.

Not every corner of government or civil society has risen to the occasion. Congress has to date shown little interest in engaging explicitly with the president’s rhetoric. In late 2017, Representative Al Green introduced articles of impeachment charging President Trump with supporting “white supremacy, bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, white nationalism [and] neo-Nazism,” and accused him of “inciting hate and hostility” by “sowing discord among the people of the United States, on the basis of race, national origin, religion, gender, [and] sexual orientation.”

But those articles were quietly voted down in the summer of 2019. Although the House did formally impeach the president last fall, the impeachment charges that were actually approved by vote made no reference to the president’s public speech; such speech was similarly sidelined in the House proceedings and Senate trial. This was a missed opportunity: Presidential speech has played a significant role in every other major presidential impeachment effort in our history, most notably in the case of Andrew Johnson, whose dangerous and demagogic rhetoric actually formed the basis of the tenth article of impeachment approved by the House of Representatives against him. And with rare exceptions, members of the president’s political party in Congress have proven remarkably unwilling to use their own speech platforms to condemn or even to criticize the president’s rhetoric.

And courts have so far had a mixed record. The Supreme Court has been all too willing to set aside presidential speech as immaterial—in the 2018 travel-ban case, for example, and in this term’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals decision, in which the majority, although setting aside the DACA rescission as inconsistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, also rejected the argument that the rescission may have been driven by discrimination. But a number of lower courts have examined presidential speech in evaluating the motives of various presidential actions. And back in 2018, Chief Justice John Roberts issued a pointed statement condemning presidential rhetoric: After President Trump criticized a district-court ruling as coming from “an Obama judge,” Roberts responded in an unusual rebuke, in which he insisted, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

Trump’s suggestion that he might seek to postpone the November election has drawn criticism from new quarters, including harsh condemnation in an op-ed by the prominent conservative and Federalist Society co-founder Steve Calabresi, who described the tweet as “fascistic” and suggested it was “grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate.” Whether or not it will take another run at presidential impeachment predicated in part on the president’s words, Congress does have other tools at its disposal, and it could use those to respond to the president’s dangerous and destructive speech. Just a few defecting members of the president’s party in the Senate could place holds on nominees, or block all legislation, if the president again uses threats of force or actual force against peaceful protesters. Congress could agree to provide additional funding to states seeking to facilitate safe voting during the pandemic, ensure adequate funding to the post office (and engage in active oversight of that agency, in light of grave concerns about its political leadership), and lawmakers could use their individual speech platforms to encourage participation in the election, either by absentee or in-person voting, depending on individual circumstances. Courts, too, can heed Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s concurrence in the DACA case, in which she criticized the majority’s “blinkered approach” of disregarding presidential speech.

What all this amounts to is that although the president has a uniquely powerful speech platform, that platform’s power relies on a number of relationships whose terms can be revised and renegotiated. Internet forums do not need to uncritically convey every presidential utterance, no matter how destructive or antidemocratic. News networks do not need to cede the airwaves to press conferences that obscure and confuse more than they illuminate or educate. Print media do not need to deploy euphemisms and indirection when describing the speech of the most powerful person in the country. Neither Congress nor the courts need to avoid confronting head-on the legal consequences of the president’s words.

The bully pulpit is understood to give the chief executive a significant advantage over any institutional or political rival in the constitutional firmament. And under normal circumstances, it does. But these are not normal circumstances, and other institutions already have the tools to respond to this president’s aberrant rhetoric. They just need to use them.

This story is part of the project “The Battle for the Constitution,” in partnership with the National Constitution Center.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to [email protected]

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New Jersey: Images of the Garden State

New Jersey is the most-densely populated state in the nation, with 8.9 million residents living in the fourth-smallest state in the U.S. From the Skylands to the Palisades, to the farms and cranberry bogs, down the Jersey Shore to Cape May, here are a few glimpses of the landscape of New Jersey and some of the wildlife and people calling it home.

This photo story is part of Fifty, a collection of images from each of the United States.

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‘This Push to Open Schools Is Guaranteed to Fail’

Olivia Arthur / Magnum

In March, we were all living in 15-day increments. Working from home and distance learning, for those who had the terrible luxury of such things, would be a weeks-long affair, surreal but temporary. Fifteen days to flatten the curve. Fifteen days to slow the spread.

Scientists warned us even then that a return to normalcy would take longer, but the telescoped timeline had obvious appeal. You can put up with almost anything for just 15 days.

Acting on the chance to get it right was essential, but we now know it was not temporary. We’ve seen the failures—in testing, in containment, in federal and state leadership—compound in catastrophic ways. And as our pandemic summer has stretched on, many of us have let go, one by one, of experiences from the world we used to inhabit. We bid goodbye to sleepaway camp, to live music, to distant travel, to boisterous weddings, and to spontaneity in general. Today, a new realization is dawning, and as the debate over schools reopening rages, we must acknowledge it plainly: We aren’t going back to how it was. And we shouldn’t.

“This push to open schools is guaranteed to fail,” says Peter Hotez, a pediatrician and molecular virologist, and the dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. I’ve been corresponding with Hotez, and with several epidemiologists, over the course of the pandemic, and have noticed a starkness in their views in recent weeks. “The social-distancing expectations and mask requirements for the lower grades are unrealistic,” Hotez told me. “In communities with high transmission, it’s inevitable that COVID-19 will enter the schools. Within two weeks of opening schools in communities with high virus transmission, teachers will become ill. All it will take is for a single teacher to become hospitalized with COVID and everything will shut down.”

Hotez has good reason to be pessimistic. There were 68,605 new cases in the United States yesterday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The seven-day average has stayed above 60,000 new cases per day since July 13. Reaching 100,000 cases per day, once seen as an apocalyptic, worst-case-scenario warning from Anthony Fauci, is no longer difficult to imagine. Indeed, my conversations with epidemiologists in recent days were all strikingly dark. They agreed: Schools should not risk reopening, probably not even for the youngest children, in the coming weeks.

The evidence is all around us. There is the summer camp in Georgia where hundreds of kids and counselors—nearly half the camp—got infected after only a few days together. Then there’s the school in Indiana where, just hours after reopening last week, a student tested positive for the coronavirus. (“We knew it was a when, not if,” the superintendent told The New York Times, but officials were “very shocked it was on Day 1.”)

There’s also the JAMA Pediatrics study that suggests that babies and young children can carry extremely high viral loads of COVID-19. The study’s authors found at least as much viral material in the throats and airways of young children as infected adults, and sometimes 100 times as much as adults. We’ve long known that kids older than age 10 can efficiently transmit the virus, but this new research suggests that younger kids pose a risk of transmission to the people around them, just as older children do. The more we learn, the more likely it seems that children are highly effective vectors for transmission. Springtime school closures took place before the virus seized the nation. A return to the classroom now—even with thoughtful precautions—would create excellent conditions to test just how quickly COVID-19 can saturate a community. School was deemed unsafe for children, teachers, and staffers back in March. The pandemic is worse in the United States now than it was then, with multiple epicenters burning across the country. So why would schools reopen now?

“The problem is the White House and the task force could never organize themselves to lead a federal response and bring virus transmission down to containment levels,” said Hotez, who has argued for the necessity of a federal containment plan that, if executed effectively, might allow the nation to reopen comprehensively as soon as October. “Instead they took a lazy and careless route, claiming schools are important, as we all know, and the teachers and principals need to figure it out. What they did was deliberately set up the teachers, staff, and parents to fail. It’s one of the most careless, incompetent, and heartless actions I’ve ever seen promoted by the executive branch of the federal government.”

There is another cause for concern, this one about what the virus might do to children themselves. Although the rate of morbidity in young children is relatively low, young children are also among the least-tested cohort in America. Fauci has stressed repeatedly in recent weeks that we know relatively little about children and the virus. For example, we still don’t know how frequently children get infected, or what percentage of children are symptomatic, or how underlying conditions may exacerbate or even alleviate the severity of the infection. The results of one six-month National Institutes of Health study, which enrolled thousands of families from 11 U.S. cities, are expected in December.

But “we don’t need additional information to make decisions,” Hotez insisted. Right now, he said, there are at least 40 states in which schools simply should not open. “Remember, schools are not hermetically sealed … We need to reach containment first. It’s that simple.”

One of the strangest things about living through a pandemic is the lag in understanding of how bad things are, an awful mirror of the lag in deaths that comes like clockwork after a surge in coronavirus cases. All along, this disaster has been simultaneously wholly shared and wholly individualized, a weird dissonance in a collective tragedy that each person, each family, has to navigate with intricate specificity to their circumstances. The despair that has seemed to crest in recent days represents another kind of lag—a lag of realization—and the inevitable end of hopefulness about what life might be like in September.

In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion wrote of the deepest and most personal kind of bereavement, the loss of her husband, but I find myself thinking of her words often in the context of the pandemic: “We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.”

These losses will feel only more acute as the season turns. We are accustomed to marking the passage of time in sweet and mundane rituals—the photos taken for the first day back to school, the new sneakers, the clean stack of fresh composition books. Instead we are marking our time in numbers. No longer 15-day increments, but 154 days since we were all together. So far, 152,870 dead from the virus in America. We cannot wish away the pandemic, as much as we try; it will persist until we muster the resolve and the resources to contain it. This is our normal. Not forever, but for a very long now.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to [email protected]

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The Best American Novelist Whose Name You May Not Know

In the winter of 1975, a quiet young woman from Lexington, Kentucky, met her Ph.D. adviser in Brown University’s writing program for a series of unsatisfactory tutorials about an ambitious project of hers that had yet to fully reveal itself. The encounters were strange enough that her adviser still recalled them in an interview a quarter century later: “I was doing all the talking, and she would sit rigidly, just bobbing her head in a regal manner. Yet there was a kind of arrogance to her. Perhaps it was the arrogance of an artist fiercely committed to a vision, but I also sensed a bottled-up black rage.” There’s nothing unusual about a young writer seething at the world, especially in the 1970s, when protests and bad attitudes about race, war, and university curricula were so de rigueur that they may as well have been taught at orientation. Likelier than not, his student sensed her (white) adviser’s judgment and withdrew in response—and didn’t think he had much to offer, anyway. While her natural range was virtuosic, his work consisted primarily of a host of popular paperbacks and magazine stories whose titles, including Dormitory Women and “Up the Down Coed,” accurately convey their subjects and sensibilities.

However mutually frustrating the meetings between Gayl Jones and R. V. Cassill may have been, his comment is most striking for having been made to The New York Times after her husband, Robert Higgins, slit his own throat when a SWAT team stormed their house in February 1998 to arrest him on a 14-year-old warrant from another state. Two decades earlier, Jones had been hailed as one of the great literary phenoms of the 20th century, only to then drop out of sight; just days before her husband killed himself, she’d reemerged on the American literary scene with a new novel that would become a finalist for a National Book Award.

Leaving aside the callousness of Cassill’s remarks (and the obvious question: What does “black rage” mean?), they violated the typical assumptions of academic privacy. That the reporter and his editors deemed Cassill’s observation useful in understanding Jones’s life does not confirm her anger so much as it affirms all there is to be angry about. No matter her insights and achievements, the frame through which she was viewed and understood by the white world remained the same. She sat silently as he read the early drafts of what would become her first novel. He talked. She left. He was flummoxed. She returned, because she had to. It could have been a Beckett play, almost funny until you lived it.

Fortunately, Jones also worked closely at Brown with a true mentor, the noted poet Michael Harper, who’d overseen her master’s degree and would become a lifelong friend. She received her doctorate in 1975 and published her first novel, Corregidora, the same year. The story is told by a 1940s Kentucky blues singer, Ursa, whose troubles with men are refracted through memories of slavery handed down by her matrilineal line:

My great-grandmama told my grandmama the part she lived through that my grandmama didn’t live through and my grandmama told my mama what they both lived through and my mama told me what they all lived through and we were suppose to pass it down like that from generation to generation so we don’t forget.

Or, as the protagonist, whose mother and grandmother were fathered by the same Portuguese slave owner, says at another point: “I am Ursa Corregidora. I have tears for eyes. I was made to touch my past at an early age. I found it on my mother’s tiddies. In her milk.”

What Faulkner saw in the haunted old mansions of Oxford, Mississippi, Jones saw in the ghosts of the Black dead. She was a pioneer in grappling with the contemporary legacy of slavery, and her debut was praised by the likes of John Updike, in The New Yorker, as well as a host of Black writers. “Corregidora is the most brutally honest and painful revelation of what has occurred, and is occurring, in the souls of Black men and women,” James Baldwin wrote.

Jones’s early novels were shepherded by Toni Morrison, then an editor at Random House, who’d dedicated herself to publishing Black writers, especially women. To put things in perspective, at the time Corregidora came out, Morrison had only recently published her first works of fiction, The Bluest Eye and Sula. She had yet to hit her stride as a writer, while Jones burst forth in her early 20s all but fully formed and requiring little editing. Jones needed a champion, however, someone who could understand and appreciate the sophistication of her approach to subject matter as well as language. “No novel about any black woman could ever be the same after this,” Morrison declared after reading the manuscript of Corregidora.

Richard Ford, who got to know Jones when they were both fellows at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, called her a “prodigy”: “History may have caught up with her, but she was a movement unto herself. Toni knew this very, very, very well when she published her.”

Jones had a marked effect not only on Morrison’s subsequent novels but on an entire generation of writers, whether they realized it or not. The tentacles of slavery in the present day have grown into a principal concern of Black literature, and Jones’s early work was absorbed into this canon almost imperceptibly. Over time, her literary ambitions would evolve, as she published and then receded from the public eye, published and then receded. This spring, she self-published her first novel in 21 years—Palmares, a six-volume work about the last fugitive-slave settlement in Brazil. In mid-June, Beacon Press bought the rights to the book, with plans to release it in September 2021.* In the sprawling narrative, set in the 17th century, Jones’s feats of linguistic and historical invention are on ample display. Describing the impact of her singular vision and intensity, John Edgar Wideman remarked 22 years ago: “I think she scared people.”

Gayl Jones was born into a modest family in 1949. Her father, Franklin, worked as a line cook in a restaurant, an occupation she would later give to the father of the narrator of her second novel, Eva’s Man. Her mother, Lucille, was a homemaker and a writer; Jones would incorporate lengthy passages from her work into her experimental fourth novel, Mosquito.

Jones spent childhood weekends visiting her maternal grandmother on a small farm outside Lexington, where she absorbed the stories of the adults around her. It is an unremarkable detail, save for the importance and seriousness Jones later ascribed to this time, as an educated woman channeling those locked out of institutions of so-called higher learning, as a daughter in communion with her mothers, as a formidable theorist validating the integrity and equality of oral modes of storytelling. “The best of my writing comes from having heard rather than having read,” Jones told Michael Harper in an intimate interview conducted the year Corregidora was published. She hastened to add that she wasn’t dismissing the glories of reading, only pointing out that “in the beginning, all of the richness came from people rather than books because in those days you were reading some really unfortunate kinds of books in school.”

In the mid‑1960s, when Gayl and her younger brother were teenagers, Lucille managed to enroll them in the segregated but academically well-regarded Henry Clay High School. (The public-school system in Lexington did not formally integrate until the mid-1970s, 20 years after Brown v. Board of Education.) Jones proved an extraordinary student, and through the efforts of her Spanish teacher she was introduced to the poet Elizabeth Hardwick, who, together with her sometimes husband, Robert Lowell, helped arrange a scholarship for Jones at Connecticut College. She proved an equally exceptional student in New England, devoting herself to literature.

Jones published Eva’s Man in 1976, a year after Corregidora. Like Ursa, Eva is a 40ish woman recounting her life story, in this case from prison. Eva landed there after murdering and castrating in graphic fashion a lover she’d spent a few days with—ostensibly because she’d learned he was married. In conversations with a fellow inmate and a prison psychiatrist, Eva “stitch[es] her memories and fantasies into a pattern of sexual and emotional abuse,” as the critic Margo Jefferson wrote. When the psychiatrist asks Eva if she can pinpoint what triggered her to kill the man, she replies only, “It was his whole way.”

Jones called Corregidora a “blues novel,” because it communicated the “simultaneity of good and bad, as feeling, as something felt,” she told Harper. Meanwhile, she considered her second novel a “horror story,” explaining in another interview—with Charles H. Rowell, the editor of Callaloo, an African American literary magazine—that what Eva “does to the man in the book is a ‘horror’ … Eva carries out what Ursa might have done but didn’t.”

Published back-to-back, the books form a diptych exploring the undercurrents of the psyche in a world of slave-owners, whoremongers, prostitutes, killers, man-eaters, jealous husbands, wayward wives, psych-ward inmates, pedophiles, wife-beaters, women in love with their abusers, and girls who carry knives. Nobody goes to church much.

Instead of sermons, sense and sustenance flow from a web of intimacy and memory, at least for Jones’s female characters. The men are mostly phalluses tumescent with bad news. Their collective role is as a source of fear and pain, but also desire. Love is not absent, but the word can’t capture what transpires between her women and men. Jones has often been read as a political warrior speaking for unvoiced Black women, but she’s too great a writer with too broad a mind—and too mesmerized by psychological complexity—to pass any ideological purity tests. As she told Rowell, her preoccupations were “contradictory character and ambivalent character, and I like to explore them even without judgments entering the work.”

Jones’s politics are inscribed in her choice to write about the lowborn and low-down, giving them as much intelligence as she possesses; to work in flawless Black English; and to position herself inside rather than outside her characters. The vantage stands in contrast to the approach of Zora Neale Hurston, for example, whom Jones admired for her up-close treatment of relationships between Black men and women, but who at points wrote on behalf of Janie, in Their Eyes Were Watching God, not as her. As Jones well understood, Hurston, like all writers, was a product of her time, and of the circumstances of her oppression. She and her fellow members of the Harlem Renaissance were self-consciously striving to create a literature of Black people’s expanding worlds beyond slavery, but the mission could devolve into representing Blacks for a white audience, giving their fictions an unintended stiltedness. The problem might be summarized as one of code-switching between the Black world and the white gaze. The Black writer who knows the codes of both must always explain the lives, decisions, and humanity of her Black characters to whites who might not otherwise credit them. In Jones’s storytelling, however, there was no “ ‘author’ getting in the way,” Morrison noticed.

The other Black inventors of the modern novel about slavery were Leon Forrest (Two Wings to Veil My Face), who wrote with lyrical, epicurean elegance, and Charles Johnson (Oxherding Tale), whose stories of slave escapes are entwined with the Buddhist quest to get off the wheel of suffering, as well as with the ontological questions of Western philosophy. They bring the high-minded into the lives of the low. By working the other way around, Jones challenges literature itself to embrace other registers of the language, including the obscene, as in this relatively mild example from Corregidora:

A Portuguese seaman turned plantation owner, he took her out of the field when she was still a child and put her to work in his whorehouse while she was a child … I stole [the picture of him] because I said whenever afterward when evil come I wanted something to point to and say, “That’s what evil look like.” You know what I mean? Yeah, he did more fucking than the other mens did.

Jones elaborated on the politics of the English language with Harper:

I usually trust writers who I feel I can hear. A lot of European and Euro-American writers—because of the way their traditions work—have lost the ability to hear. Now Joyce could hear and Chaucer could hear. A lot of Southern American writers can hear … Joyce had to hear because of the whole historical-linguistic situation in Ireland … Finnegan’s Wake is an oral book. You can’t sight-read Finnegan’s Wake with any kind of truth. And they say only a Dubliner can really understand the book, can really “hear” it. Of course, black writers—it goes without saying why we’ve always had to hear.

Telling stories out loud was a matter of survival and wholeness for a community forbidden to read, as well as an act of rebellion, and the way Jones wields this tradition transforms even a kind of nursery rhyme shared between daughter and mother into something dirty, dangerous, and important.

I am the daughter of the daughter of the daughter of Ursa of currents, steel wool and electric wire for hair.

While mama be sleeping, the ole man he crawl into bed …

Don’t come here to my house, don’t come here to my house I said …

Fore you get any this booty, you gon have to lay down dead.

When Harper asked for her thoughts on the architects of 20th-century Black literature, namely “Gaines, Toomer, Ellison, Hurston, Walker, Forrest, Wright, Hughes, Brown, Hayden et. al,” Jones pointed out the wide variation in a group that to the mainstream might appear homogeneous:

You know, I say the names over in my mind, and I think about those people who will speak of black writing as a “limited category,” the implication being that it’s something you have to transcend. And it surprised me because I thought critics had outgrown that sort of posture.

She certainly had. Whereas Baldwin famously lashed out at the protest-novel straitjacket put on mid-20th-century Black writers—“The ‘protest’ novel, so far from being disturbing, is an accepted and comforting aspect of the American scene”—Jones came of age breathing the air of the Black Arts Movement. Founded by LeRoi Jones (no relation), who combined immense talent, critical acumen, and, after being brutalized by the police, a rusty shank of disdain for the lassitude of white America, the movement advanced the idea that white people’s approval was beside the point. Why bother being the Black exception in a country where attempts to control the mind and body of Black people knew no bounds? In his fiery 1965 manifesto, “The Revolutionary Theatre,” LeRoi Jones described the mission for Black artists this way: “White men will cower before this theatre because it hates them … The Revolutionary Theatre must hate them for hating.” Gayl Jones’s “fuck off ” was less explicit but no less radical: She wrote fiction as if white people weren’t watching.

Eva embodies that position. In a conversation about Jones’s second book published last year in The Believer, the young Zambian-born novelist Namwali Serpell explained the “brilliance” of Jones’s choice to let Eva be “bad,” to seemingly lack or reject the reflex to see herself through white people’s eyes. Eva’s “un-self-consciousness,” her unwillingness to “be known, or know how others know her,” Serpell said, “is a kind of freedom.”

illustration of 3 book covers
Na Kim

More than a few readers of Jones have assumed that her volatile husband inspired Eva’s Man, but she didn’t meet him until several years after she wrote that book, in Ann Arbor. In other words, she wasn’t the naive Black girl writing autobiographical workshop fiction, an expectation Jones was accustomed to. “Always with black writers,” she told Rowell, “there’s the suspicion that they can’t … invent a linguistic world in the same way that other writers can.” A white professor, in fact, once told Jones that he was surprised that she didn’t talk more like Ursa.

Ford, who recalls Jones as “within herself, but friendly and very smart,” says it’s a mistake to conflate authors with their characters. “Gayl’s books were dramatic, sexual, sexually violent, eloquent, and harsh in their assessments of the life she was vividly portraying,” he told me. “But fiction is not simply an emotional ‘readout’ of a writer’s feelings. It’s a congeries of made-up, ill-fitting, heretofore unaffiliated shards of experience, memory, feeling, event.”

Not much is known about Robert Higgins, apart from the dramatic run-ins he had with the law, including a pivotal one in 1983, when the pair attended a local gay-rights rally. There, he was alleged to have proclaimed himself God and declared HIV a form of divine retribution, prompting a woman to punch him. Whatever actually happened, Higgins, being an American, went home and returned brandishing a gun. He was arrested by the Ann Arbor police; his assailant was not. Rather than appear in court to defend himself, he and Jones left town, with a letter of protest to the university (and to President Ronald Reagan) that said, in part: “I reject your lying, racist shit. Do whatever you want. God is with Bob, and I’m with him.”

The couple then decamped from the United States altogether and spent the next five years in Europe, mostly in Paris, joining the tail end of a Black expatriate scene made up of people who did not wish to return to America after World War II.

Around this time, Jones published three books of poetry. The best-known of these, Song for Anninho, shares the essential story of Palmares, the epic novel she began composing more than four decades ago. It’s a love story about a man and a woman who live there (and, incidentally, was dedicated to Higgins). In this faraway past in a world populated by Africans, American Indians, Europeans, and all their possible admixtures, Jones pursued her desire to link Black Americans’ struggle to that of colonized people across the globe—the goal of what’s known as the universal freedom movement. “I’d like to be able to …write imaginatively of blacks anywhere/everywhere,” she told Rowell. She was a passionate student of Latin American literature, and her poetry has the lushness—and at times the over-the-top romanticism—of pan-Americanists such as Eduardo Galeano and Pablo Neruda: “I struggle through memory … the blood of the whole continent / running in my veins.”

In the late 1980s, Jones and Higgins returned to America, moving to Lexington to live with Jones’s mother, who was ill. Meanwhile, the rights to Corregidora and Eva’s Man had been acquired by the old Boston publisher Beacon. In 1997, however, Jones asked her editor there, Helene Atwan, to remove them from print. “She said they portrayed Black men very negatively, and she didn’t want those to be her only books out there,” Atwan told me, admitting to being intimidated by her author’s brilliance. “I said, ‘No! They’re important books. Send us new books, and we’ll publish those.’ ”

Jones promptly forwarded the manuscript for The Healing, the story of an itinerant faith healer, a woman named Harlan who is one step ahead of hard times and of her own past. In a 1991 book of critical essays, called Liberating Voices, Jones had described the trajectory of Black literature as moving from “the restrictive forms (inheritors of self-doubt, self-repudiation, and the minstrel tradition) to the liberation of voice and freer personalities in more intricate texts,” and The Healing puts the author herself on that path. The narrative voice is that of a world-weary, often wry country preacher with a self-proclaimed ability to cure the sick and soul-wounded. As Harlan encounters believers and nonbelievers during her travels, Jones plants notions about how narratives are deployed in everyday life to both reveal and hide. The story’s small “tank towns” and ordinary people are familiar from her other books, but where the earlier work seems to resign itself to the world, The Healing holds forth the possibility of redemption.

The speed with which Jones presented the manuscript to Beacon suggests that it was a novel she had written earlier, and only then decided to publish. When it was named as a finalist for a 1998 National Book Award, Jones asked Michael Harper to attend in her place, eschewing industry hobnobbing for a private life in Kentucky.

This privacy was soon upended, after the Lexington police saw a celebratory article about her in Newsweek and, armed with the old warrant from Michigan, went to arrest Higgins, then living under the alias Bob Jones. When they arrived at the couple’s door, he threatened suicide rather than surrender. The police then called for a SWAT team. Higgins signaled his seriousness by taking up a kitchen knife. They stormed inside anyway, tackling Jones as Higgins did what he said he’d do. A district attorney defended the police’s “perfectly” executed handling of the warrant, noting that Higgins had written threatening letters about the shoddy hospital care his mother-in-law received, and that by the time the authorities arrived they were “sitting on a bomb.”

After her husband’s death, Jones was committed to a hospital amid fears that she might harm herself. When her fourth novel, Mosquito, appeared the following year, everyone flocked to it for clues about the tragedy. Instead, they were greeted with a wildly ambitious novel that took its inspiration from the free-form riffs of jazz, in line with Black writers like Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray. Jazz is many things, and Mosquito came from its more daring vein. It was not well received. In a pan of the book published in The New York Times, Henry Louis Gates Jr. complained that it

often reads more like Jones’s “Theory of the Novel,” her encyclopedic version of Jamesian prefaces, than like any of Jones’s previous works. It’s a late-night riff by the Signifying Monkey, drunk with words and out of control, regurgitating half-digested ideas taken from USA Today, digressing on every possible subject, from the color of the Egyptians to the xenophobia of the Great Books movement, from the art of “signifying” and the role of Africans in the slave trade to the subtleties of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.

Clearly Gates likes to play the dozens.

The book demands to be taken more seriously. On the simple level of story, it’s about a truck driver named Mosquito—the only female on a route that traces the Mexican border—who becomes a coyote for a group called the Sanctuary, ferrying refugees on the “new Underground Railroad.” All of Jones’s women are on the run, but from book to book they become more likely to have a place to go. Mosquito is one of Jones’s trademark mash-ups—fusing her interests in history, character, and contemporary events. Time is collapsed, such that the past, present, and future play on a Finnegan’s Wake–style loop of language and consciousness. It’s an Olympian move, but if you’re Simone Biles, who’s to tell you not to play hopscotch with the gods? Like other late-postmodern works, the book overflows the usual frames of realism; it includes the author’s original theories about the relationship between story and life, between the speaker/writer and the listener/reader. It often sounds like overhearing a lunch date between Derrida and Calvino, at a table where both theorist and master are Jones. Mosquito didn’t find a general readership, but it helped feed a lot of dissertations.

Its reception aside, the novel marked a formal shift for Jones. The wealth of knowledge inside the author’s mind by then—the ideas, and the layers of experience she was trying to put across—strain the naive first-person narrator. Jones may have been listening to jazz, but she was also exploring the boundaries of what is possible in the modernist forms of the novel.

At 50, an age when many writers are just arriving at the height of their power, Jones might have been expected to tally the lessons from her experiment and keep moving. Indeed, Atwan said that Mosquito wasn’t yet published when Jones sent her the manuscript for Palmares. But for reasons unavailable to us, Jones—who communicated only sporadically with her Beacon editor—decided against following through with the book. And soon, Atwan said, Jones told her that she’d stopped writing entirely.

A main definition of a canonical artist is one whom other artists keep alive across generations. And word of mouth is what led me to Jones’s work a few years after college, when I decided to truly educate myself. As an aspiring novelist, I wanted to see where my own writing fit in, sure, but I’d also matured enough to realize that what I liked and didn’t like was irrelevant to the task of understanding the vastness of literature. During this years-long period, I read through the books that get anthologized as the American canon, the English, the World Lit, and sampled various national traditions. I read the Nobel Prize winners I hadn’t before. Harold Bloom was the GOAT among readers, so I measured myself in those days against the indexes of The Western Canon. You can read all of these things and still not know much about Black literature. My education there was in bookshops and libraries, but especially in talking with other writers, visual artists, musicians, filmmakers, dancers. It was the best education I ever had.

One Friday after work at my day job as a magazine writer, I made my way from Sixth Avenue to a bar in Hell’s Kitchen where industry people gathered. I joined some friends from Newsweek at the Black table, where they were sitting in stunned silence and self-reproach. Higgins had just killed himself, after the magazine outed his location. I don’t remember the specifics, but we talked bitterly about the editorial decisions that led the police to his door. About the things that white Americans understood and did not understand about being Black in this country. Things they might not wish to know.

The reason I’ve told you all this is so you’ll understand what I mean when I say that Gayl Jones’s new work is as relevant as ever. With monumental sweep, it blends psychological acuity and linguistic invention in a way that only a handful of writers in the transatlantic tradition have matched. She has boldly set out to convey racial struggle in its deep-seated and disorienting complexity—Jones sees the whole where most only see pieces.

More than a third of all Africans removed from their homeland from the early 1500s to the mid-1800s—more than 4 million people—were transported to Brazil and enslaved alongside the indigenous people, at least those who hadn’t been exterminated. Today Nigeria is the only country with a larger Black population than Brazil, and in the body of African American culture stretching from Harlem to Rio, the state of Bahia might be fairly viewed as its spiritual heart. Perhaps the heart of the entire Black world. Palmares centers on the reenslavement of the last settlement of free Blacks in Brazil—and is told from the point of view of Almeyda, a young girl who has learned to read with the help of a local Catholic priest named Father Tollinare, though he tries to limit the books available to her. The novel has a García Márquezean pace, and, because it imitates the rhythms of Portuguese and imports words without the usual linguistic signposts, it almost feels as though it has been translated into English. But where García Márquez writes of generals and doctors, Jones tells of slaves and whores. The rhetoric of race in Latin America is different from our own, of course, but its history, and the ways blood and money operate, are familiar.

Plot is beside the point in Palmares—the book unfolds on a plane of consciousness where the things achieved are shifting relationships and states of being. Ultimately, the book is about taking full possession of the entire Black experience, including tenderness—and Jones’s quest to free the individual Black voice. Father Tollinare, born back in the Old World and wedded to its old sounds, doesn’t realize his young student’s hunger to expand and integrate:

During the studies, he’d pass one worn Bible around and we’d read the stories, and he’d shake his head when we dropped letters off the ends of words, and he’d say, “In Portugal they say it this way.” “But here we say it this way,” I protested once. He looked at me sternly … I was silent because I wanted to know how to read and write the words, even if I continued to pronounce them a different way.

At her best, Jones wields the words of a larger literary tradition with a subversive power that is rare in its all-encompassing purity. Dropping letters, she adds new worlds to that tradition, one that has been—in this country, and in the American language—as versed in duplicity as in revelation. One wishes that the blooming of Jones’s genius were as simple as the saying “You can’t keep a good woman down.” The truth is, you can, and it’s been done for centuries. The old women in Kentucky presumably told her that long ago, and how best to endure.


* Beacon Press previously told The Atlantic that it would be publishing Palmares in September 2020. After this article went to press, the publisher confirmed that the book will in fact be released in September 2021. The article has been updated online to reflect this. It appears in the September 2020 print edition with the headline “‘No Novel About Any Black Woman Could Ever Be the Same After This.’”

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Trump Warns That Mail-In Ballots Could Result in Voting

A person wearing a rubber glove placing a ballot in a mail box
Photograph by Matt Rourke / AP / Shutterstock

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Calling the situation a “total disaster,” Donald J. Trump warned on Sunday that the use of mail-in ballots could result in voting.

Appearing on Fox News, Trump said that there were “all kinds of studies” showing a “direct link” between mail-in ballots and votes cast.

“Wherever you’ve had mail-in ballots, there have been widespread cases of voting,” he said. “We’re not going to let that happen.”

He said that other countries have solved the problem of “too many votes” by banning mail-in ballots altogether.

“You look at North Korea,” Trump said. “They don’t have mail-in ballots. They barely have mail. They’re doing an amazing job.”

Raising another issue with what he called “excessive voting,” Trump warned that “the more votes you have, the higher the number you have to count to.”

“When I took my cognitive test, I had to count to ten, and that was no walk in the park,” he said. “And now you’re telling me there’s somebody out there who can count into the millions? Give me a break.”

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How to Stop China From Imposing Its Values

Getty / The Atlantic

On their own, few countries are powerful enough to stand up to bullying by China, and the existing security alliances upon which the world’s major democracies depend weren’t built to address the economic threats now emanating from Beijing. This spring, shortly after Australia called for an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19, the Chinese ambassador to that country threatened an economic boycott, declaring that the Chinese public could go without Australian wine and beef, among other products. Since China is Australia’s largest export market, this was no small threat. Subsequently, China blocked imports from major Australian meat producers and placed tariffs on Australian barley. More and more, China is using its massive economic weight to threaten countries that challenge its actions, criticize its leaders, or express sympathy for people whom it considers dissidents or separatists.

In April, Chinese officials threatened the European Union with unnamed repercussions if an official EU report described a Chinese “global disinformation campaign” related to COVID-19. (The EU toned down the report.) Beijing has threatened economic harm to German automakers if Germany attempts to exclude equipment made by the Chinese telecom giant Huawei from its 5G networks. Last year, China also threatened to impose trade restrictions on Sweden after a Chinese Swedish author was awarded a prize for persecuted writers by the Swedish chapter of the group PEN International. These moves represent a kind of economic imperialism. The Chinese Communist Party, which suppresses dissent at home, is trying to force other countries to abide by its authoritarian norms and use its preferred company to build their own essential communications networks.

In the United States, suspicion of the Chinese government is a bipartisan matter, but no consensus exists about just what to do. The Trump administration has implemented a variety of hawkish policies, including restricting semiconductor sales in China and stopping a U.S. government retirement fund from investing in stocks there, and the president himself vowed Friday to ban TikTok, a popular app owned by a Chinese company. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called in a recent speech for “a new alliance of democracies” to counter the emerging superpower, although few details were offered. The draft of the 2020 Democratic Party platform broadly vows to “rally friends and allies across the world to push back against China or any other country’s attempts to undermine international norms.”

The problem is that the United States and its allies currently lack the ability to respond to the type of geo-economic threats that China is making. Specifically, they need a means of taking collective action when Beijing attempts to use economic power as a tool of political coercion. No country should face such threats alone.

Many of America’s most important Cold War–era institutions, especially NATO, were designed to deter a primarily military threat from the Soviet Union. But back then, Moscow—unlike Beijing now—had limited economic leverage against the West. Global economic institutions such as the World Trade Organization were narrowly focused on trade agreements and rule-making to ensure fair economic competition, but did not consider the possibility of economic warfare or the danger of economic threats to force political concessions. Indeed, none of these alliances or institutions has been any help in addressing the Chinese economic threats against Australia, Germany, Sweden, or other nations.

Those threats also harm the United States. If China forces U.S. allies to use Huawei’s technology in their information networks, American communications that go through those networks could be exposed to the Chinese Communist Party’s infiltration. And China’s rulers have sought to enforce the party line on Americans. Last year, Beijing punished the NBA’s Houston Rockets when the team’s general manager offered support for Hong Kong’s prodemocracy protesters on Twitter, a platform blocked in China. The regime will likely grow bolder as China’s economic might grows.

New threats demand new responses. During the Cold War, the U.S. created not just NATO but also the CIA and the Air Force to respond to Soviet threats. The period brought about a wholly new form of intelligence competition between the West and the Soviet Union. This led the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to enter into the alliance commonly known as Five Eyes, which allowed unprecedented intelligence sharing among nations in peacetime. This approach would have been unimaginable before the Soviet geopolitical threat.

Similarly, a new kind of alliance—like NATO, but for economic rather than military threats—is needed to respond to the kind of statecraft that China is practicing. Under such a system, participating nations would provide mutual support when China threatens one or more members with economic repercussions for political actions. That assistance could involve the imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods by all member nations; the creation of a pool of capital to help a targeted nation withstand Beijing’s pressure; the release of strategic reserves of essential materials, such as rare-earth metals, that China produces and could withhold; and other forms of collective economic defense.

When China targets Australian barley and beef to mute criticism of Beijing’s handling of COVID-19, members of the economic alliance could all impose tariffs or other forms of economic weapons to force China to back off. If China continued to threaten German automobile exports to force concessions on 5G, alliance members might ease the pain by reducing their own tariffs on Volkswagens and BMWs.

This alliance would be open to any nation that wanted to maintain free markets and political autonomy. Use of its tools would have to be narrow: It should act only in cases where economic warfare is used as a means of political coercion. It would not replace NATO or other military alliances. Nor would it replace the WTO. In fact, it would be complementary, and provide a means of safeguarding the WTO’s goal of free trade, by countering attempts to turn trade into a geopolitical bargaining chip.

The United States needs to develop policies toward China that are largely consistent from one administration to the next. A NATO-like economic-security alliance could support a bipartisan consensus on China policy. It is compatible with the nationalist approach championed by the Trump administration—but also with the more traditional policy objectives of Democrats, including Joe Biden, who believe in building global alliances and protecting the human and political rights of smaller nations.

Up to this point, the United States and other democracies have tightly integrated their economies with China’s without fully planning for the problems that the arrangement presents. China has used this economic integration for geopolitical gain. Just as the U.S. needed alliances to deter military threats after World War II, it needs alliances that deter economic threats from Beijing now.

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How a Cheese Goes Extinct

Selection of cheeses
When you talk with aficionados, it usually doesn’t take long for the conversation to veer away from curds, whey, and mold, and toward matters of life and death.Photograph from Alamy

The late Mary Holbrook, a white-haired maestro in the British cheesemaking world, was known for her soft cheeses and her sharp temper. Once a week, she made the trip from Sleight Farm, her home in the southwest of England, to London to check on her wares as they ripened in the maturation rooms of an upscale cheese shop. Holbrook’s apprentices, hardened to her singular style of mentorship, knew to brace themselves for reprimands when she returned. Occasionally, though, Holbrook would come back with bags of treats—yogurt, mangoes, sweets—which she spilled across the kitchen table of her cold mid-nineteenth-century farmhouse on the crest of a hill, and they knew that the cheese must be tasting good, and that Mary’s little world was in order.

Before turning to cheesemaking, in the nineteen-seventies, Holbrook had been an archeologist. Some forty years into her second career, she still had a way of getting history to rise to the surface. Sleight Farm was littered with relics, pieces of rusting machinery scattered across the rolling fields. “If they broke,” Julianna Sedli, who worked with Holbrook for a little over three and a half years, said, “they broke forever.” In one shabby outbuilding, alongside vats of oil and parts of a tractor, craggy wheels of hard Old Ford cheese aged in the cool, damp shade. In a room along a little track, French influences converged with old English traditions of goat’s- and sheep’s-milk cheesemaking. There, Holbrook made Tymsboro, an ash-rubbed pyramid of soft cheese, with bright, peppery notes. Her semi-soft washed-rind Cardo cheese, meanwhile, borrowed from Portuguese tradition, using a vegetarian rennet made from thistle stamens.

As Holbrook’s renown spread—as well as gaining acclaim for her cheeses, she made her name by supplying pork to some of London’s most famous restaurants—aspiring cheesemakers made pilgrimages to the farm, keen to learn from the woman who had built a reputation as one of Britain’s finest. Some journeyed down for only a week or two; others stayed for years. In 2004, Martin Gott and his partner Nicola Robinson moved to Sleight Farm from their jobs in Lancashire, in the northwest of England. They bought a flock of sheep and rented some grazing land and barn space from Holbrook, developing their own washed-rind sheep’s cheese—St. James—in snatched moments when they weren’t farming and cheesemaking for Holbrook. Their vision didn’t always align with Holbrook’s: Gott recalls that, much of the time, he was left to make his own mistakes, with his mentor only chiming in to express disappointment or dissent. But there were bright moments, too. In the evening, they would leaf through cheese-industry catalogues, laughing about the incredible strangeness of being able to buy starter cultures—packages of concentrated bacteria designed to help the milk sour safely and with the right flavor—with futuristic names like G017-B.

“I wouldn’t say that Mary taught us a huge amount of practical cheesemaking,” Gott said. “But she put us in a position where we could learn.” If the work of an archeologist is to let objects tell their own story, Mary carried this philosophy forward in her cheesemaking, too: smelling, tasting, observing, and touching the cheese as it was made and aged, letting it speak for itself.

Holbrook died in February, 2019, at the age of eighty, following a short illness. She left behind no children, and her cousin’s daughter, Catherine Ochiltree, was unable to continue the difficult work of farming and cheesemaking in her absence. Ochiltree and her partner were travelling nearly a hundred and fifty miles from their home in Kent to the farm on weekends, in addition to working full-time jobs. “We just didn’t have that resilience,” Ochiltree said. “We were running on a very skeleton staff. I took the decision that we needed to bow out, so we started to dry the goats off and started to sell the herd.”

By July of that year, the farm ceased production, and Holbrook’s cheeses—Old Ford, Cardo, Sleightlett, and Tymsboro—slipped out of the living tradition and into the pages of history. A cheese is just one small piece of the world—one lump of microbe-riddled milk curds—but each is an endpoint of centuries of tradition. Some disappear for months or years; others never return. The cheesemonger and writer Ned Palmer told me that, when a cheese is lost, “Your grief reaches back into the past—into decades and centuries and millennia of culture. You feel all of that.”

When you talk with cheese aficionados, it doesn’t usually take long for the conversation to veer this way: away from curds, whey, and mold, and toward matters of life and death. With the zeal of nineteenth-century naturalists, they discuss great lineages and endangered species, painstakingly cataloguing those cheeses that are thriving and those that are lost to history. In his classic “The Great British Cheese Book,” from 1982, Major Patrick Rance—a monocled founding father of modern British cheese—intersperses his tales of surviving regional cheeses with obituaries for those that never made it so far, going as far as to describe their disappearance as extinction. Under “Extinct cheeses of the Midlands and East Anglia,” Rance pays his respects to a lost Newmarket cheese, “a 40lb marigold-coloured cheese,” pressed under cloth and rubbed with salt and cream, the recipe for which was unearthed in a 1774 housekeeping manual.

There are countless ways for a cheese to disappear. Some, like Holbrook’s, die with their makers. Others fall out of favor because they’re simply not good: one extinct Suffolk cheese, “stony-hard” because it was made only with skimmed milk, was so notoriously bad that, in 1825, the Hampshire Chronicle reported that one ship’s cargo of grindstones was eaten by rats while the neighboring haul of Suffolk cheese escaped untouched. As Palmer has outlined in his book, “A Cheesemonger’s History of the British Isles,” the fate of a cheese is often entangled with economic and political circumstances, as well as the failings of its makers. During the Second World War, much milk was redirected away from cheese production and toward drinking. The small amount of cheese that was permitted to be made was strictly regulated, with only a small roster of cheeses—mostly hard cow’s-milk cheeses similar to Cheddar—approved for production. Soft and blue cheeses, which tended to contain higher moisture levels than those permitted in ration cheese, and which were less durable, didn’t make the cut. Within two decades, the number of farmhouse cheesemakers had plummeted from more than a thousand to less than two hundred.

Even if a cheese can be rescued, the act of bringing it back to life can be fraught. In 2004, when the founder of the artisanal-cheese retailer Neal’s Yard Dairy, Randolph Hodgson, and the cheesemaker Joe Schneider decided to make a raw-milk version of Stilton, the process was like trying to resurrect the dinosaurs using only a sketch of a Tyrannosaurus rex on the back of a napkin for reference. Although Stilton is celebrated as a jewel among British cheeses, a raw-milk version hadn’t been made since the late nineteen-eighties, when a health scare led the final few creameries making it to switch to pasteurized milk. To find a path toward an authentic Stilton taste and texture—the way it had been made for more than two hundred years—Schneider had to rely on the “taste memory” of people who had last eaten the cheese a decade earlier. “I felt like a blind man trying to navigate my way, while these guys shouted orders at me to move a little bit left or a little bit right,” he said. He found images in old books of wheels of Stilton stacked high at market: these scraps of information gave him vital clues about the size, moisture, and structure of the traditional version. “You could never do that with a modern Stilton,” Schneider said. “It would crush—it’s too broken down and soft.”

Matters were complicated further by the very P.D.O. (Protected Designation of Origin) status that is supposed to protect traditional Stilton-making. With existing producers having switched to pasteurized-milk production in the nineteen-nineties, pasteurization became a protected trait for all Stilton cheeses, leaving Schneider and Hodgson’s cheese—made by the same methods, in the same place, and with the same microbial cultures as Stilton had been for centuries—unable to use that name. Not deterred, however, they leapfrogged back through history and secured the name Stichelton—which is, according to Schneider, the Old English name for the town of Stilton—for their cheese. Because it wasn’t Stilton, the cheese was more itself than ever.

These existential wranglings are familiar to Harry G. West, an anthropologist who has spent much of his academic life interrogating the way cheese is shaped by tradition, technology, and legislation. In Stichelton cheese, Schneider and Hodgson re-created the unpasteurized Stilton piece by piece, accounting for biological and environmental factors, in order to revive an old cheese in a new time. But West said that overly exacting approaches can be beside the point. “I think the question isn’t ‘Is it the same?’ but ‘Is it connected?’ ” he said. “And I think those connections can be made in so many different ways.”

For some cheesemakers, like Schneider, the quest to save a cheese will bear down on the minutiae of environmental terroir: the land, the biodiversity of the grazing pastures, and the microbial communities present in the raw milk. For others, continuity has a more human dimension, drawing a link between past and present through family lineage: the Lancashire cheese produced by the Kirkham family, for example, is widely considered to be the last remaining raw-milk farmhouse Lancashire in production. Regardless of titles and official designations, cheeses will always reflect the people who make them. (Gott, who remembers Holbrook’s obsessive attention to detail—sourcing starter cultures from the Loire Valley, in France, and thistle stamens from Portugal—likes to say, “If you want to change a cheese, change the cheesemaker.”) But the human factors also extend further afield, to the hands that will package the cheese, the money that will purchase it, the shelves it will fill, and the mouths it will feed. Stilton cheese is a case in point: as West points out, Stilton was named not after the place that it was first made, but the town where it was first marketed and sold. In fact, Stilton cannot legally be made in the town of Stilton, which sits outside of the geographical area specified in the cheese’s P.D.O. What irony, that a cheese now defined by where it comes from was initially defined by where it went to—brought to life not in the farmhouse or the dairy but in the marketplace.

Such conversations have taken on particular resonance today, as the coronavirus reshapes the ways we shop, dine, and cook. The food writer Jenny Linford was among the first to document the challenges faced by cheesemakers when the pandemic struck, with some makers seeing restaurant and wholesale orders dry up virtually overnight, and others having to put production on hold for now—and maybe even forever. “We need to put our arms around our cheese world and understand how precious it is,” Linford told me.

There have already been casualties of the crisis. Innes Cheese, based at Highfields Farm Dairy, in Staffordshire, has been a site of goat’s-milk cheesemaking since 1987. Their signature cheese, Innes Log, with its grassy, sometimes nutty flavor and fudgelike texture, was singled out by Neal’s Yard Dairy as an alternative to Holbrook’s Tymsboro, after she had died. Their Highfields cheese—crumbly, Caerphilly-inspired—was billed as a successor to Holbrook’s Old Ford. Before the pandemic hit, Joe Bennett and his partner, Amiee Lawn, the joint owners of Innes Cheese, found themselves on the brink of investing a lot of money in a new milking parlor and improved facilities at the farm. “We were talking to the bank, and literally the next day everything stopped,” Bennett said.

When the lockdown started and restaurants—Innes Cheese’s principal buyers—were shuttered, the dairy’s plans were upended. “For three weeks, we had virtually no sales at all,” Bennett said. “It just all stopped pretty much overnight.” With one young child and a second on the way, Bennett and Lawn felt they had no choice but to stop cheesemaking and sell their herd of goats. On June 15th, the pair drove down to London with the last of their cheeses. Soon, the last of them will have been sold and eaten, and a thread of tradition after thirty-three years in the goat-cheese business will be lost.

Last month, Bennett and Lawn’s flock of three hundred goats were driven over a hundred and fifty miles north to a new home at Holker Farm, in Cumbria, where Gott and Robinson have lived and made cheese since their year-long apprenticeship with Holbrook. They had been considering making their own goat’s-milk cheese since Holbrook died, so when they got a call from Bennett to let them know that he and Lawn would be bowing out of the business, they took it as a sign. Within a week, the first Holker Farm kids were born. With the population of their farm having more than doubled, Gott and Robinson are busier than ever. The traditional dry stone walls that crisscross the farm have to be safeguarded. (“To the goats,” Gott noted, “they’re like climbing frames!”) Fences and hedges need to be checked and checked again in order to goat-proof the paddocks. But there’s excitement, too. The goats are mostly British Saanen crossed with Golden Guernsey, which means that they yield smaller quantities of richer milk—perfect for making cheese.

Gott and Robinson have started by making a hard goat’s-milk cheese. Like their Crookwheel sheep’s-milk cheese, which they rushed into production after the start of lockdown, in March, this new offering will be a firm, reasonably dry cheese: less labor-intensive to produce and durable enough to weather uncertain market conditions over the coming weeks and months. With Innes Cheese’s goats, transplanted to the rolling Cumbrian countryside, and using cheesemaking techniques that they learned at Sleight Farm, in Somerset, Gott and Robinson are making something entirely new from old parts. They have called the cheese Holbrook.

tinyurlbitlyis.gdclck.ruulvis.netcutt.lyshrtco.de

A Literary Movement Unto Herself

In the winter of 1975, a quiet young woman from Lexington, Kentucky, met her Ph.D. adviser in Brown University’s writing program for a series of unsatisfactory tutorials about an ambitious project of hers that had yet to fully reveal itself. The encounters were strange enough that her adviser still recalled them in an interview a quarter century later: “I was doing all the talking, and she would sit rigidly, just bobbing her head in a regal manner. Yet there was a kind of arrogance to her. Perhaps it was the arrogance of an artist fiercely committed to a vision, but I also sensed a bottled-up black rage.” There’s nothing unusual about a young writer seething at the world, especially in the 1970s, when protests and bad attitudes about race, war, and university curricula were so de rigueur that they may as well have been taught at orientation. Likelier than not, his student sensed her (white) adviser’s judgment and withdrew in response—and didn’t think he had much to offer, anyway. While her natural range was virtuosic, his work consisted primarily of a host of popular paperbacks and magazine stories whose titles, including Dormitory Women and “Up the Down Coed,” accurately convey their subjects and sensibilities.

However mutually frustrating the meetings between Gayl Jones and R. V. Cassill may have been, his comment is most striking for having been made to The New York Times after her husband, Robert Higgins, slit his own throat when a SWAT team stormed their house in February 1998 to arrest him on a 14-year-old warrant from another state. Two decades earlier, Jones had been hailed as one of the great literary phenoms of the 20th century, only to then drop out of sight; just days before her husband killed himself, she’d reemerged on the American literary scene with a new novel that would become a finalist for a National Book Award.

Leaving aside the callousness of Cassill’s remarks (and the obvious question: What does “black rage” mean?), they violated the typical assumptions of academic privacy. That the reporter and his editors deemed Cassill’s observation useful in understanding Jones’s life does not confirm her anger so much as it affirms all there is to be angry about. No matter her insights and achievements, the frame through which she was viewed and understood by the white world remained the same. She sat silently as he read the early drafts of what would become her first novel. He talked. She left. He was flummoxed. She returned, because she had to. It could have been a Beckett play, almost funny until you lived it.

Fortunately, Jones also worked closely at Brown with a true mentor, the noted poet Michael Harper, who’d overseen her master’s degree and would become a lifelong friend. She received her doctorate in 1975 and published her first novel, Corregidora, the same year. The story is told by a 1940s Kentucky blues singer, Ursa, whose troubles with men are refracted through memories of slavery handed down by her matrilineal line:

My great-grandmama told my grandmama the part she lived through that my grandmama didn’t live through and my grandmama told my mama what they both lived through and my mama told me what they all lived through and we were suppose to pass it down like that from generation to generation so we don’t forget.

Or, as the protagonist, whose mother and grandmother were fathered by the same Portuguese slave owner, says at another point: “I am Ursa Corregidora. I have tears for eyes. I was made to touch my past at an early age. I found it on my mother’s tiddies. In her milk.”

What Faulkner saw in the haunted old mansions of Oxford, Mississippi, Jones saw in the ghosts of the Black dead. She was a pioneer in grappling with the contemporary legacy of slavery, and her debut was praised by the likes of John Updike, in The New Yorker, as well as a host of Black writers. “Corregidora is the most brutally honest and painful revelation of what has occurred, and is occurring, in the souls of Black men and women,” James Baldwin wrote.

Jones’s early novels were shepherded by Toni Morrison, then an editor at Random House, who’d dedicated herself to publishing Black writers, especially women. To put things in perspective, at the time Corregidora came out, Morrison had only recently published her first works of fiction, The Bluest Eye and Sula. She had yet to hit her stride as a writer, while Jones burst forth in her early 20s all but fully formed and requiring little editing. Jones needed a champion, however, someone who could understand and appreciate the sophistication of her approach to subject matter as well as language. “No novel about any black woman could ever be the same after this,” Morrison declared after reading the manuscript of Corregidora.

Richard Ford, who got to know Jones when they were both fellows at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, called her a “prodigy”: “History may have caught up with her, but she was a movement unto herself. Toni knew this very, very, very well when she published her.”

Jones had a marked effect not only on Morrison’s subsequent novels but on an entire generation of writers, whether they realized it or not. The tentacles of slavery in the present day have grown into a principal concern of Black literature, and Jones’s early work was absorbed into this canon almost imperceptibly. Over time, her literary ambitions would evolve, as she published and then receded from the public eye, published and then receded. This spring, she self-published her first novel in 21 years—Palmares, a six-volume work about the last fugitive-slave settlement in Brazil. In mid-June, Beacon Press bought the rights to the book, with plans to release it in September 2021.* In the sprawling narrative, set in the 17th century, Jones’s feats of linguistic and historical invention are on ample display. Describing the impact of her singular vision and intensity, John Edgar Wideman remarked 22 years ago: “I think she scared people.”

Gayl Jones was born into a modest family in 1949. Her father, Franklin, worked as a line cook in a restaurant, an occupation she would later give to the father of the narrator of her second novel, Eva’s Man. Her mother, Lucille, was a homemaker and a writer; Jones would incorporate lengthy passages from her work into her experimental fourth novel, Mosquito.

Jones spent childhood weekends visiting her maternal grandmother on a small farm outside Lexington, where she absorbed the stories of the adults around her. It is an unremarkable detail, save for the importance and seriousness Jones later ascribed to this time, as an educated woman channeling those locked out of institutions of so-called higher learning, as a daughter in communion with her mothers, as a formidable theorist validating the integrity and equality of oral modes of storytelling. “The best of my writing comes from having heard rather than having read,” Jones told Michael Harper in an intimate interview conducted the year Corregidora was published. She hastened to add that she wasn’t dismissing the glories of reading, only pointing out that “in the beginning, all of the richness came from people rather than books because in those days you were reading some really unfortunate kinds of books in school.”

In the mid‑1960s, when Gayl and her younger brother were teenagers, Lucille managed to enroll them in the segregated but academically well-regarded Henry Clay High School. (The public-school system in Lexington did not formally integrate until the mid-1970s, 20 years after Brown v. Board of Education.) Jones proved an extraordinary student, and through the efforts of her Spanish teacher she was introduced to the poet Elizabeth Hardwick, who, together with her sometimes husband, Robert Lowell, helped arrange a scholarship for Jones at Connecticut College. She proved an equally exceptional student in New England, devoting herself to literature.

Jones published Eva’s Man in 1976, a year after Corregidora. Like Ursa, Eva is a 40ish woman recounting her life story, in this case from prison. Eva landed there after murdering and castrating in graphic fashion a lover she’d spent a few days with—ostensibly because she’d learned he was married. In conversations with a fellow inmate and a prison psychiatrist, Eva “stitch[es] her memories and fantasies into a pattern of sexual and emotional abuse,” as the critic Margo Jefferson wrote. When the psychiatrist asks Eva if she can pinpoint what triggered her to kill the man, she replies only, “It was his whole way.”

Jones called Corregidora a “blues novel,” because it communicated the “simultaneity of good and bad, as feeling, as something felt,” she told Harper. Meanwhile, she considered her second novel a “horror story,” explaining in another interview—with Charles H. Rowell, the editor of Callaloo, an African American literary magazine—that what Eva “does to the man in the book is a ‘horror’ … Eva carries out what Ursa might have done but didn’t.”

Published back-to-back, the books form a diptych exploring the undercurrents of the psyche in a world of slave-owners, whoremongers, prostitutes, killers, man-eaters, jealous husbands, wayward wives, psych-ward inmates, pedophiles, wife-beaters, women in love with their abusers, and girls who carry knives. Nobody goes to church much.

Instead of sermons, sense and sustenance flow from a web of intimacy and memory, at least for Jones’s female characters. The men are mostly phalluses tumescent with bad news. Their collective role is as a source of fear and pain, but also desire. Love is not absent, but the word can’t capture what transpires between her women and men. Jones has often been read as a political warrior speaking for unvoiced Black women, but she’s too great a writer with too broad a mind—and too mesmerized by psychological complexity—to pass any ideological purity tests. As she told Rowell, her preoccupations were “contradictory character and ambivalent character, and I like to explore them even without judgments entering the work.”

Jones’s politics are inscribed in her choice to write about the lowborn and low-down, giving them as much intelligence as she possesses; to work in flawless Black English; and to position herself inside rather than outside her characters. The vantage stands in contrast to the approach of Zora Neale Hurston, for example, whom Jones admired for her up-close treatment of relationships between Black men and women, but who at points wrote on behalf of Janie, in Their Eyes Were Watching God, not as her. As Jones well understood, Hurston, like all writers, was a product of her time, and of the circumstances of her oppression. She and her fellow members of the Harlem Renaissance were self-consciously striving to create a literature of Black people’s expanding worlds beyond slavery, but the mission could devolve into representing Blacks for a white audience, giving their fictions an unintended stiltedness. The problem might be summarized as one of code-switching between the Black world and the white gaze. The Black writer who knows the codes of both must always explain the lives, decisions, and humanity of her Black characters to whites who might not otherwise credit them. In Jones’s storytelling, however, there was no “ ‘author’ getting in the way,” Morrison noticed.

The other Black inventors of the modern novel about slavery were Leon Forrest (Two Wings to Veil My Face), who wrote with lyrical, epicurean elegance, and Charles Johnson (Oxherding Tale), whose stories of slave escapes are entwined with the Buddhist quest to get off the wheel of suffering, as well as with the ontological questions of Western philosophy. They bring the high-minded into the lives of the low. By working the other way around, Jones challenges literature itself to embrace other registers of the language, including the obscene, as in this relatively mild example from Corregidora:

A Portuguese seaman turned plantation owner, he took her out of the field when she was still a child and put her to work in his whorehouse while she was a child … I stole [the picture of him] because I said whenever afterward when evil come I wanted something to point to and say, “That’s what evil look like.” You know what I mean? Yeah, he did more fucking than the other mens did.

Jones elaborated on the politics of the English language with Harper:

I usually trust writers who I feel I can hear. A lot of European and Euro-American writers—because of the way their traditions work—have lost the ability to hear. Now Joyce could hear and Chaucer could hear. A lot of Southern American writers can hear … Joyce had to hear because of the whole historical-linguistic situation in Ireland … Finnegan’s Wake is an oral book. You can’t sight-read Finnegan’s Wake with any kind of truth. And they say only a Dubliner can really understand the book, can really “hear” it. Of course, black writers—it goes without saying why we’ve always had to hear.

Telling stories out loud was a matter of survival and wholeness for a community forbidden to read, as well as an act of rebellion, and the way Jones wields this tradition transforms even a kind of nursery rhyme shared between daughter and mother into something dirty, dangerous, and important.

I am the daughter of the daughter of the daughter of Ursa of currents, steel wool and electric wire for hair.

While mama be sleeping, the ole man he crawl into bed …

Don’t come here to my house, don’t come here to my house I said …

Fore you get any this booty, you gon have to lay down dead.

When Harper asked for her thoughts on the architects of 20th-century Black literature, namely “Gaines, Toomer, Ellison, Hurston, Walker, Forrest, Wright, Hughes, Brown, Hayden et. al,” Jones pointed out the wide variation in a group that to the mainstream might appear homogeneous:

You know, I say the names over in my mind, and I think about those people who will speak of black writing as a “limited category,” the implication being that it’s something you have to transcend. And it surprised me because I thought critics had outgrown that sort of posture.

She certainly had. Whereas Baldwin famously lashed out at the protest-novel straitjacket put on mid-20th-century Black writers—“The ‘protest’ novel, so far from being disturbing, is an accepted and comforting aspect of the American scene”—Jones came of age breathing the air of the Black Arts Movement. Founded by LeRoi Jones (no relation), who combined immense talent, critical acumen, and, after being brutalized by the police, a rusty shank of disdain for the lassitude of white America, the movement advanced the idea that white people’s approval was beside the point. Why bother being the Black exception in a country where attempts to control the mind and body of Black people knew no bounds? In his fiery 1965 manifesto, “The Revolutionary Theatre,” LeRoi Jones described the mission for Black artists this way: “White men will cower before this theatre because it hates them … The Revolutionary Theatre must hate them for hating.” Gayl Jones’s “fuck off ” was less explicit but no less radical: She wrote fiction as if white people weren’t watching.

Eva embodies that position. In a conversation about Jones’s second book published last year in The Believer, the young Zambian-born novelist Namwali Serpell explained the “brilliance” of Jones’s choice to let Eva be “bad,” to seemingly lack or reject the reflex to see herself through white people’s eyes. Eva’s “un-self-consciousness,” her unwillingness to “be known, or know how others know her,” Serpell said, “is a kind of freedom.”

illustration of 3 book covers
Na Kim

More than a few readers of Jones have assumed that her volatile husband inspired Eva’s Man, but she didn’t meet him until several years after she wrote that book, in Ann Arbor. In other words, she wasn’t the naive Black girl writing autobiographical workshop fiction, an expectation Jones was accustomed to. “Always with black writers,” she told Rowell, “there’s the suspicion that they can’t … invent a linguistic world in the same way that other writers can.” A white professor, in fact, once told Jones that he was surprised that she didn’t talk more like Ursa.

Ford, who recalls Jones as “within herself, but friendly and very smart,” says it’s a mistake to conflate authors with their characters. “Gayl’s books were dramatic, sexual, sexually violent, eloquent, and harsh in their assessments of the life she was vividly portraying,” he told me. “But fiction is not simply an emotional ‘readout’ of a writer’s feelings. It’s a congeries of made-up, ill-fitting, heretofore unaffiliated shards of experience, memory, feeling, event.”

Not much is known about Robert Higgins, apart from the dramatic run-ins he had with the law, including a pivotal one in 1983, when the pair attended a local gay-rights rally. There, he was alleged to have proclaimed himself God and declared HIV a form of divine retribution, prompting a woman to punch him. Whatever actually happened, Higgins, being an American, went home and returned brandishing a gun. He was arrested by the Ann Arbor police; his assailant was not. Rather than appear in court to defend himself, he and Jones left town, with a letter of protest to the university (and to President Ronald Reagan) that said, in part: “I reject your lying, racist shit. Do whatever you want. God is with Bob, and I’m with him.”

The couple then decamped from the United States altogether and spent the next five years in Europe, mostly in Paris, joining the tail end of a Black expatriate scene made up of people who did not wish to return to America after World War II.

Around this time, Jones published three books of poetry. The best-known of these, Song for Anninho, shares the essential story of Palmares, the epic novel she began composing more than four decades ago. It’s a love story about a man and a woman who live there (and, incidentally, was dedicated to Higgins). In this faraway past in a world populated by Africans, American Indians, Europeans, and all their possible admixtures, Jones pursued her desire to link Black Americans’ struggle to that of colonized people across the globe—the goal of what’s known as the universal freedom movement. “I’d like to be able to …write imaginatively of blacks anywhere/everywhere,” she told Rowell. She was a passionate student of Latin American literature, and her poetry has the lushness—and at times the over-the-top romanticism—of pan-Americanists such as Eduardo Galeano and Pablo Neruda: “I struggle through memory … the blood of the whole continent / running in my veins.”

In the late 1980s, Jones and Higgins returned to America, moving to Lexington to live with Jones’s mother, who was ill. Meanwhile, the rights to Corregidora and Eva’s Man had been acquired by the old Boston publisher Beacon. In 1997, however, Jones asked her editor there, Helene Atwan, to remove them from print. “She said they portrayed Black men very negatively, and she didn’t want those to be her only books out there,” Atwan told me, admitting to being intimidated by her author’s brilliance. “I said, ‘No! They’re important books. Send us new books, and we’ll publish those.’ ”

Jones promptly forwarded the manuscript for The Healing, the story of an itinerant faith healer, a woman named Harlan who is one step ahead of hard times and of her own past. In a 1991 book of critical essays, called Liberating Voices, Jones had described the trajectory of Black literature as moving from “the restrictive forms (inheritors of self-doubt, self-repudiation, and the minstrel tradition) to the liberation of voice and freer personalities in more intricate texts,” and The Healing puts the author herself on that path. The narrative voice is that of a world-weary, often wry country preacher with a self-proclaimed ability to cure the sick and soul-wounded. As Harlan encounters believers and nonbelievers during her travels, Jones plants notions about how narratives are deployed in everyday life to both reveal and hide. The story’s small “tank towns” and ordinary people are familiar from her other books, but where the earlier work seems to resign itself to the world, The Healing holds forth the possibility of redemption.

The speed with which Jones presented the manuscript to Beacon suggests that it was a novel she had written earlier, and only then decided to publish. When it was named as a finalist for a 1998 National Book Award, Jones asked Michael Harper to attend in her place, eschewing industry hobnobbing for a private life in Kentucky.

This privacy was soon upended, after the Lexington police saw a celebratory article about her in Newsweek and, armed with the old warrant from Michigan, went to arrest Higgins, then living under the alias Bob Jones. When they arrived at the couple’s door, he threatened suicide rather than surrender. The police then called for a SWAT team. Higgins signaled his seriousness by taking up a kitchen knife. They stormed inside anyway, tackling Jones as Higgins did what he said he’d do. A district attorney defended the police’s “perfectly” executed handling of the warrant, noting that Higgins had written threatening letters about the shoddy hospital care his mother-in-law received, and that by the time the authorities arrived they were “sitting on a bomb.”

After her husband’s death, Jones was committed to a hospital amid fears that she might harm herself. When her fourth novel, Mosquito, appeared the following year, everyone flocked to it for clues about the tragedy. Instead, they were greeted with a wildly ambitious novel that took its inspiration from the free-form riffs of jazz, in line with Black writers like Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray. Jazz is many things, and Mosquito came from its more daring vein. It was not well received. In a pan of the book published in The New York Times, Henry Louis Gates Jr. complained that it

often reads more like Jones’s “Theory of the Novel,” her encyclopedic version of Jamesian prefaces, than like any of Jones’s previous works. It’s a late-night riff by the Signifying Monkey, drunk with words and out of control, regurgitating half-digested ideas taken from USA Today, digressing on every possible subject, from the color of the Egyptians to the xenophobia of the Great Books movement, from the art of “signifying” and the role of Africans in the slave trade to the subtleties of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.

Clearly Gates likes to play the dozens.

The book demands to be taken more seriously. On the simple level of story, it’s about a truck driver named Mosquito—the only female on a route that traces the Mexican border—who becomes a coyote for a group called the Sanctuary, ferrying refugees on the “new Underground Railroad.” All of Jones’s women are on the run, but from book to book they become more likely to have a place to go. Mosquito is one of Jones’s trademark mash-ups—fusing her interests in history, character, and contemporary events. Time is collapsed, such that the past, present, and future play on a Finnegan’s Wake–style loop of language and consciousness. It’s an Olympian move, but if you’re Simone Biles, who’s to tell you not to play hopscotch with the gods? Like other late-postmodern works, the book overflows the usual frames of realism; it includes the author’s original theories about the relationship between story and life, between the speaker/writer and the listener/reader. It often sounds like overhearing a lunch date between Derrida and Calvino, at a table where both theorist and master are Jones. Mosquito didn’t find a general readership, but it helped feed a lot of dissertations.

Its reception aside, the novel marked a formal shift for Jones. The wealth of knowledge inside the author’s mind by then—the ideas, and the layers of experience she was trying to put across—strain the naive first-person narrator. Jones may have been listening to jazz, but she was also exploring the boundaries of what is possible in the modernist forms of the novel.

At 50, an age when many writers are just arriving at the height of their power, Jones might have been expected to tally the lessons from her experiment and keep moving. Indeed, Atwan said that Mosquito wasn’t yet published when Jones sent her the manuscript for Palmares. But for reasons unavailable to us, Jones—who communicated only sporadically with her Beacon editor—decided against following through with the book. And soon, Atwan said, Jones told her that she’d stopped writing entirely.

A main definition of a canonical artist is one whom other artists keep alive across generations. And word of mouth is what led me to Jones’s work a few years after college, when I decided to truly educate myself. As an aspiring novelist, I wanted to see where my own writing fit in, sure, but I’d also matured enough to realize that what I liked and didn’t like was irrelevant to the task of understanding the vastness of literature. During this years-long period, I read through the books that get anthologized as the American canon, the English, the World Lit, and sampled various national traditions. I read the Nobel Prize winners I hadn’t before. Harold Bloom was the GOAT among readers, so I measured myself in those days against the indexes of The Western Canon. You can read all of these things and still not know much about Black literature. My education there was in bookshops and libraries, but especially in talking with other writers, visual artists, musicians, filmmakers, dancers. It was the best education I ever had.

One Friday after work at my day job as a magazine writer, I made my way from Sixth Avenue to a bar in Hell’s Kitchen where industry people gathered. I joined some friends from Newsweek at the Black table, where they were sitting in stunned silence and self-reproach. Higgins had just killed himself, after the magazine outed his location. I don’t remember the specifics, but we talked bitterly about the editorial decisions that led the police to his door. About the things that white Americans understood and did not understand about being Black in this country. Things they might not wish to know.

The reason I’ve told you all this is so you’ll understand what I mean when I say that Gayl Jones’s new work is as relevant as ever. With monumental sweep, it blends psychological acuity and linguistic invention in a way that only a handful of writers in the transatlantic tradition have matched. She has boldly set out to convey racial struggle in its deep-seated and disorienting complexity—Jones sees the whole where most only see pieces.

More than a third of all Africans removed from their homeland from the early 1500s to the mid-1800s—more than 4 million people—were transported to Brazil and enslaved alongside the indigenous people, at least those who hadn’t been exterminated. Today Nigeria is the only country with a larger Black population than Brazil, and in the body of African American culture stretching from Harlem to Rio, the state of Bahia might be fairly viewed as its spiritual heart. Perhaps the heart of the entire Black world. Palmares centers on the reenslavement of the last settlement of free Blacks in Brazil—and is told from the point of view of Almeyda, a young girl who has learned to read with the help of a local Catholic priest named Father Tollinare, though he tries to limit the books available to her. The novel has a García Márquezean pace, and, because it imitates the rhythms of Portuguese and imports words without the usual linguistic signposts, it almost feels as though it has been translated into English. But where García Márquez writes of generals and doctors, Jones tells of slaves and whores. The rhetoric of race in Latin America is different from our own, of course, but its history, and the ways blood and money operate, are familiar.

Plot is beside the point in Palmares—the book unfolds on a plane of consciousness where the things achieved are shifting relationships and states of being. Ultimately, the book is about taking full possession of the entire Black experience, including tenderness—and Jones’s quest to free the individual Black voice. Father Tollinare, born back in the Old World and wedded to its old sounds, doesn’t realize his young student’s hunger to expand and integrate:

During the studies, he’d pass one worn Bible around and we’d read the stories, and he’d shake his head when we dropped letters off the ends of words, and he’d say, “In Portugal they say it this way.” “But here we say it this way,” I protested once. He looked at me sternly … I was silent because I wanted to know how to read and write the words, even if I continued to pronounce them a different way.

At her best, Jones wields the words of a larger literary tradition with a subversive power that is rare in its all-encompassing purity. Dropping letters, she adds new worlds to that tradition, one that has been—in this country, and in the American language—as versed in duplicity as in revelation. One wishes that the blooming of Jones’s genius were as simple as the saying “You can’t keep a good woman down.” The truth is, you can, and it’s been done for centuries. The old women in Kentucky presumably told her that long ago, and how best to endure.


* Beacon Press previously told The Atlantic that it would be publishing Palmares in September 2020. After this article went to press, the publisher confirmed that the book will in fact be released in September 2021. The article has been updated online to reflect this. It appears in the September 2020 print edition with the headline “‘No Novel About Any Black Woman Could Ever Be the Same After This.’”

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