Align­ing Lit­er­a­ture and the News

Poets and Writers - - Trends -

Ayear ago Been­ish Ahmed was work­ing as a daily news re­porter in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., track­ing big sto­ries and craft­ing them into ar­ti­cles that would help her read­ers make sense of the world around them. Although she knew her work was im­por­tant, Ahmed, thirty, grew frus­trated with the na­ture of the news cy­cle— es­pe­cially in an era of shock­ing po­lit­i­cal head­lines by the minute—which of­ten makes it dif­fi­cult for read­ers to de­velop a de­tailed un­der­stand­ing of im­por­tant is­sues. “I just felt like there was more to con­trib­ute,” she says by phone from her home in New York City, “and that there was a way we could go deeper while also work­ing with the fact that peo­ple have lim­ited band­width for what they can take in.”

An avid reader, jour­nal­ist, and cre­ative writer, Ahmed turned to lit­er­a­ture for an an­swer. She started the Alig­nist, a bi­monthly book sub­scrip­tion ser­vice she hopes will pro­vide a dif­fer­ent way for read­ers to un­der­stand so­ciopo­lit­i­cal is­sues and en­gage with other cul­tures. Start­ing in Novem­ber, sub­scribers will re­ceive a cu­rated box con­tain­ing a novel along with a printed “road map” pro­vid­ing con­text for cur­rent events in the book, sev­eral hand­made items that Ahmed says “should feel like

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