Sunday, 10 December 2006

Philip Gourevitch is the new editor of the famous quarterly, Paris Review. He has cut the magazine down to 180 pages and intends to run more non-fiction pieces, according to an article in yesterday's The Guardian.

The magazine still features stories and poems, though fewer, but the noticeable aspect of Gourevitch's revitalised magazine is the reflection of his own literary interests, resulting in an increased dose of reportage. "We're living in complicated and dramatic times, and I feel that our literature, especially the periodical fiction, is rarely up to the wildness and boldness of the times, that it seldom expresses the outlandishness and range of the actors and actions that are shaping our world. Without trying to run a timely publication [the Paris Review is a quarterly] I feel it's exciting to see what gets thrown off at a glancing angle from the actual headlines: not only as non-fiction narrative, but as fiction, as poetry, even as interview."

Gourevitch is also considered still to be a staff writer for The New Yorker and in 1998 published a book about the Rwanda genocide, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families. In writing it, he "spent a total of nine months in Rwanda between 1995 and 1998 interviewing a broad spectrum of citizens and observers: government officials, hotel managers, doctors, army officers, relief workers, United Nations "peacekeepers," victims, perpetrators," according to a review.

He also published a book in 2001, A Cold Case, "the story of how Andy Rosenzweig, retired Manhatten cop, reopened an investigation into a double murder that had happened more than thirty years earlier."

"I love what the Paris Review was, its traditions, what it stands for; but I didn't feel that I was being hired to act as the curator of a museum piece. Rather, that I should treat it as a living thing, with its own new form. It's a sign of my respect for Plimpton that I'm not trying to be him."

Looks like Gourevitch is taking the magazine in directions with which he himself is familiar. Seems like a good policy to me. With his hard-earned expertise, he should be able to identify and attract quality stories from journalists.

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