Media Magazine

The New York Times and Fiction: Revisiting the Past

Posted on the 15 August 2016 by Themarioblog @garciainteract
The New York Times and fiction: revisiting the pastThe New York Times and fiction: revisiting the past The New York Times and fiction: revisiting the pastThe New York Times and fiction: revisiting the past The New York Times and fiction: revisiting the pastThe New York Times and fiction: revisiting the past The New York Times and fiction: revisiting the pastThe New York Times and fiction: revisiting the past The New York Times and fiction: revisiting the pastThe New York Times and fiction: revisiting the past The New York Times and fiction: revisiting the pastThe New York Times and fiction: revisiting the past
An excerpt from The Underground Railroad, the new novel by Colson Whitehead, published as a newspaper supplement in The New York Times

When American author Upton Sinclair wrote his masterpiece, The Jungle, it first appeared serialized  in 1905 by the socialist journal of tiny Girard, Kansas, Appeal to Reason. It was part of the trend for literature in installments, a chapter a day.

So, when I saw an excerpt from The Underground Railroad, the new novel by Colson Whitehead, published as a newspaper supplement in The New York Times, it made me think of newspapers of another era. It was also interesting to read that the excerpt of The Underground Railroad would appear in only print editions and no digital.

In the Times own words:

In his dynamic new novel, Colson Whitehead takes the Underground Railroad — the loosely interlocking network of black and white activists who helped slaves escape to freedom in the decades before the Civil War — and turns it from a metaphor into an actual train that ferries fugitives northward.

Publishing literature in newspapers has been a journalistic tradition that can be traced back to the days of Charles Dickens, but which became less prevalent in newspapers during the latter half of the 20th century. 

I remember that, as a graduate student of contemporary literature, I was always impressed to read about the role newspapers played in presenting the work of some of the the most famous19th century writers such as  Stephen Crane, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Mark Twain, among others.

So, I am delighted, and not at all surprised, to see this piece of fiction given so much space, and in such a classic, elegant design , in Sunday’s New York Times. I believe that as we begin to see printed newspapers as more of a "lean back" experience, there will be a greater opportunity for literature to be presented there. A win win for both publishers and readers.

This is what print is perfect for

Not just print, but the large broadsheet format, are ideal for the presentation of long narratives, such as The Underground Railroad.

An editor's note accompanying the supplement in the Times elaborated on this idea:

“Though we are excited by innovations like virtual reality and digital storytelling, we also recognize the lasting power of the broadsheet. The custom design of today’s section aims to artfully explore the uses to which that format can be put. It is a special ink-on-paper product, one not available in digital form. It is finite and tactile; to read it you must have gotten your hands on the Sunday paper.”

TheMarioBlog post #2070
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