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Why Hermione Granger is much more than a sidekick

Hermione Granger Warner Brothers
Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

Good morning! It’s Saturday, and that means it’s time for your weekly book link roundup. Herewith is the best the internet has to offer on books and related subjects for the week of September 19, 2016.

  • Prolific thriller author James Patterson apparently wrote a book called The Murder of Stephen King, and it has finally occurred to him that it’s a little weird to publish a book about the death of your professional rival.
  • Lionel Shriver is still pretty confident that she’s being censored from writing about other races and cultures, in spite of her multiple award-winning novels and op-eds in major newspapers on same. (We covered the first part of this controversy here.)
  • Ken Kalfus at the Washington Post has a well-reasoned response to Shriver’s concerns:

The freedom to write about people of other ethnic identities or nationalities or gender is and should be widely respected. (I myself am an American who has published two books set in Russia.) Shriver’s full-throated defense against imaginary charges of cultural appropriation is meant to obscure the offensiveness of her racial characterizations, in the same way that certain people who make deliberate, categorically insulting remarks about women and minorities claim persecution by the political-correctness police.

Here’s the thing with Hermione: she’s always there. She’s always performing the ceaseless emotional labor that Harry and Ron require. She does the heavy emotional lifting so that Harry can continue to Hero all over the place and Ron can continue to sidekick. She is always there, even when she’s angry, even when she’s being horribly mistreated. She’s loyal to a fault, unwavering, unflinching. She’s patient.

Inequality, Piketty argues, ruins romance. In a society where the primary routes to wealth are inheritance and marriage, marriages become more about strategy than about mutual affection. At the book’s start, Lily hopes to secure her future by marrying the wealthy but criminally dull Percy Gryce. But her heart spoils her plan, as she spends time with her true love Lawrence Selden—a modest lawyer—when she should be courting Gryce, and another eligible young women angles in and marries him.

And yet, O’Connor had something Nin did not, besides success as a fiction writer. What Nin needed more than any night of boning Henry Miller was to hang out with a person who could laugh at her and with her, who wasn’t trying to sleep with her, who wasn’t using her for her husband’s money, who read her writing for what it was instead of what it wasn’t. What her writing is, for the record, is fucking brilliant.

  • The New Yorker has a great profile of Carla Hayden, our new librarian of Congress:

In the nineteen-seventies, during her first library job, in Chicago, she led story time in a storefront library—an experience that, she joked, trained her as a manager. “If you can negotiate story time with three- and four-year-olds,” she said, “that’s a skill you can take all the way up.”

Happy reading!