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During the summer of 2015, in an act of white supremacist terror, Dylann Roof murdered nine black people at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston while their heads were bowed in prayer.

GQ describes Ghansah’s many months spent in Charleston profiling Roof as a search for answers, but that’s not quite accurate.

“To be in the company of a tortoise is to be reminded — instantly, inarticulably — of the oldness of the world and the newness of us.” writes Yanagihara “To be around them is to be reminded, incessantly, of our own vulnerability — and our own imminent deaths.” In a year where everything in the world seemed to be moving so quickly, Fred reminded me of what lasts — and what will outlast — the petty troubles of the day. Ford writes about the joys and frustrations of being reunited with her father, who spent most of her life in prison.

She does so with an astonishing blend of candor and compassion that makes it so you can’t help but feel for both of them.

It’s strange when one of the best essayists in the world keeps getting, not just better, but more ambitious, clearer, productively ambiguous, and loving.

That’s exactly what Robinson pulls off in this essay.

Ford’s father has missed so much of his daughter’s life, but that’s not all he has to catch up on.

Having been incarcerated since the late 1980s, he is way behind the times, technologically speaking.

Her piece is the piece writers with less range attempted to write about a neighborhood Nazi.

I look forward to her first book, The essay that stayed with me throughout the year was a profile of a sulcata tortoise named Fred who spends his days wandering the backyard of Yanagihara’s parents’ house in Honolulu.


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