Aisha Sabatini Sloan Wins the 2021 National Magazine Award for Columns and Commentary



Aisha Sabatini Sloan. Photo courtesy of Sabatini Sloan.

The Paris Review is pleased to announce that Aisha Sabatini Sloan’s column for the Daily, Detroit Archives, has received the 2021 National Magazine Award for Columns and Commentary. Sabatini Sloan is the author of the essay collections The Fluency of Light and Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit as well as the forthcoming book-length essay Borealis and the father-daughter collaboration Captioning the Archives. She is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan. A sampling of the three essays recognized by the award appears below.

From “Ladies of the Good Dead,” May 22, 2020:

My great aunt Cora Mae can’t hear well. She is ninety-eight years old. When the global pandemic reached Michigan, the rehabilitation center where she was staying stopped accepting visitors. There were attempts at FaceTime, but her silence made it clear that for her, we had dwindled into pixelated ghosts. She contracted COVID-19 and has been moved again and again. When my mother calls to check on her every day, she makes sure to explain to hospital staff that my great aunt is almost deaf, that they have to shout in her left ear if they want to be heard.

From “On Immolation,” July 9, 2020:

For a period of time in 2014, I couldn’t stop watching the surveillance video of a person setting fire to the Heidelberg Project, a world-renowned art installation by Tyree Guyton in a residential area of Detroit. The recorded arson struck me as a performance piece in itself. In what appears to be the very early hours of the morning, a figure approaches the threshold of a structure called “Taxi House,” a home adorned by boards of wood that have been painted with yellow, pink, green, and white vehicles labeled “taxi.” There is a painted clock, real tires, and toy cars. A meandering, peach-colored line has been painted along a sagging corner of the roof, then it comes down onto the siding, where it moves geometrically, like Pac-Man.

From “On Doulas,” September 15, 2020:

In 2016, Erykah Badu performed at Chene Park, now called the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre, a beautiful, outdoor waterfront venue in Detroit overlooking Canada. Badu donated proceeds from that concert to the African American 490 Challenge, an organization trying to raise money to process 11,341 untested rape kits that had been abandoned for years at a Detroit police department storage facility. The initiative was named 490 after the dollar amount needed to test a single kit, each of which represents, the organization’s president Kim Trent emphasized, “a living, breathing victim.” Four years later, thanks to their work, 11,137 kits have been tested, and there have been 210 convictions. Eighty-one percent of the victims were Black women. You could call this an archive of negligence.

The Review also was named a finalist for the 2021 National Magazine Award for Fiction, recognizing Senaa Ahmad’s “Let’s Play Dead” (Spring 2020), Eloghosa Osunde’s “Good Boy” (Fall 2020), and Bud Smith’s “Violets” (Summer 2020).

Congratulations to all! And for more great stories, essays, poems, interviews, and more, don’t forget to subscribe to The Paris Review today.