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How the internet celebrated Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary

New Installment Of Harry Potter Released In China Photo by China Photos/Getty Images
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.

Welcome to the weekly Vox book link roundup, a curated selection of the best online writing about books and related topics. Here’s the best the internet has to offer for the week of June 25, 2017.

This feeling of consuming a book while simultaneously being consumed was not itself new. I grew up as an under-the-covers, flashlight-holding binge-reader. What was new was the intensity of my obsession, and the feeling of pining for a book that hadn’t been written yet.

On reread, one thing I find striking in the story is the good humor of the townspeople as they assemble to ritually murder one of their own. How can they be joking and chatting with one another, I wonder? Well, of course it’s simple: they don’t really think it’s going to be them who will be stoned to death. (After all, what are the chances?) It’s so easy to participate in systemic cruelty when you think it doesn’t actually touch you.

Although his influence was not always positive, Branwell remained a primary muse for his sisters, and we should remember him as a major cog in the Brontë writing machine – even if his own work was always “minor”. And the story of a young, talented fantasist failing to make his way in the world resonates with our experiences of hardship and lost dreams.

Personally, I remain skeptical, but you must do as you see fit, best beloveds.

Women’s speculative futures have been seen as a mere division of male dystopian fiction, a long and worthy tradition started by Thomas More’s 1516 work, Utopia (a kind of philosophical treatise meets spoof travelogue), and then punctuated by influential works such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in 1932, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949 and Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange in 1962.

Palmer suggests that today’s male dystopias retain characteristic differences to those from female authors.

“Perhaps the ones by women have less often featured an isolated hero, while a woman author might tend to write more about a network of people, often with more complex roles,” she said. And a political context is unavoidable for a woman writer, she believes.

It seems glaringly obvious to me that women are missing, in the real world and in fictional ones, in the ways that truly count. As I fretfully consider our current political and cultural climate, and as I think about books that re-inscribe and circle around a female absence, I wonder if we—as readers, writers, consumers and publishers—are scrambling for narratives that mark this voiceless-ness, narratives that make visible, by focusing on her absence, the woman we need to see.

Happy reading!