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Thank god for October. NYC is getting crispy and leaves-y! Pumpkins are sitting out on stoops! I remembered where all my sweaters are! I hope you are getting some perfect fall weather wherever you are (or spring weather, as the case may be — which, lucky you).
This week, Tomi Obaro recommends a debut novel by Zimbabwean writer Panashe Chigumadzi. Also, there’s a new column from the only person who can make me care about basketball: senior culture writer Albert Samaha. In Keeping Score, he’ll cherry-pick and break down the juiciest drama from the sports world. Enjoy!
Estelle Tang, deputy culture editor
P.S. BuzzFeed News is launching Suspicious Circumstances, a newsletter bringing thoughtful, nuanced true crime coverage to your inbox each week. Sign up to uncover the biggest true crime mysteries of today.
Welcome to Read This, where we recommend something old or new to add to your ever-growing book pile.
You’re a woman. You live in Zimbabwe. It’s 2008. You graduated from university, the first in your family to do so, but you are working a dead-end job as a secretary for a Very Important Person. Your country’s currency is worthless. You are frequently hungry. So you decide to seduce your employer and miraculously succeed. He divorces his wife and you live in his house. But he refuses to marry you. He’s grown cold and distant. You depend on him financially, and so do your disapproving mother and uncle. What do you do? These are the questions at the heart of Zimbabwean writer Panashe Chigumadzi’s debut novel, which came out in 2015. As Tsitsi, the book’s protagonist, goes to increasing lengths to keep her lover’s interest, desperation forces her to consider previously unthinkable ideas. If you like Tsitsi Dangarembga’s fiction — I’ve written about it before — then you’ll enjoy this novel, which is clearly influenced by Dangarembga and a bitter recording of the disappointments of Independence-era Zimbabwe. —Tomi Obaro
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How much time would you need to forgive a coworker for punching you in the face? For Jordan Poole of the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, the answer is apparently about a week.
On Oct. 5, Poole’s teammate Draymond Green connected a right hook to his jaw during practice. The act was indefensible on multiple levels. Video footage of the incident, which later leaked to TMZ, shows Green walking up to Poole, getting in his face chest-to-chest, and then swinging away, a split second after Poole casually shoves him back. Making matters worse, the size difference: Green is sturdy at 6’6” and 236 lbs., with a reputation as a physical enforcer on the court, while the slender Poole clocks in at 6’4” and 194 lbs. Then there’s the difference in age: At 32, Green is a grown-ass man with a shelf full of NBA accolades, while Poole is a brash 23-year-old up-and-comer establishing his footing in the league. Green “is supposed to be the protector,” Marcus Thompson of the Athletic wrote last week. “He betrayed his post.” In press conference statements and tweets, Warriors star Steph Curry and the rest of the organization rallied around Poole, leaving Green’s future with the team uncertain.
The next day, Green apologized to Poole and his teammates, then in a press conference explained that he had been dealing with some personal issues and let his anger get the best of him. “I’m a very flawed human being,” Green said. “The day that this took place, I was in a very, very bad space mentally.”
While teammates and coaches haven’t disclosed what exactly sparked Green’s fury, all accounts attested that that the verbal exchange never rose beyond standard trash talk. Anyone trying to analyze Green’s possible motives didn’t have to think too hard to come up with a theory: The younger Poole is expected to get a massive contract extension, while the older Green has expressed that he doesn’t think the team will grant him the contract extension he desires. Did this come from envy and insecurity?
Green and management mutually agreed that he would take some time away from the team. His sin was so grave that the Warriors didn’t formally suspend him — that would have suggested this was a simple matter of punishing misbehavior that could be resolved on a clear timeline. What the team faced was much more complicated: an emotional fracture within a close-knit locker room, a healing process between two men, a loss of trust that might never be regained. Coach Steve Kerr disclosed that Green would not be allowed back until Poole was OK with it.
As a Warriors fan, I was on high alert. Green has been integral to the team’s run of championships, but it was hard for me to imagine him returning anytime soon, or maybe ever. In my group chats, I declared the Warriors had no choice but to trade him, even if they received little in return, because the risk of disrupting the locker room’s normally joyful equilibrium was too great.
But earlier this week, Green once again met with Poole, and the two then addressed their teammates together, marking their apparent reconciliation. The timing was convenient: The Warriors’ first game of the season is on Tuesday.
I wonder how Poole is feeling. Did he put pressure on himself to publicly make nice with his teammate, so as not to feel responsible for Green’s absence? Did the grip of conventional masculinity lead him to believe he had to get over what happened as soon as possible? Was he really ready to forgive Green?
The drama is only just beginning. These two dudes have a whole season of plane flights, bus rides, locker rooms, and practices ahead of them — and feelings don’t just go away. —Albert Samaha
Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and Dave Chappelle were once heroes to me. Now, they are no longer fit for the job.
From terrifying apparitions of deceased mothers to monsters out of Indigenous folklore, these books are spooky must-reads.
Here’s my evidence.
Football has withstood criticism over how it handles the risk of brain damage. But the quarterback’s scary injury shatters any illusions about the sport’s safety.
“For me, the book raises questions about how we connect with other people, how we form a community, how we maintain empathy for other human beings. Those are all the questions I hope readers will sit with, after turning the last page. ●
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