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The Guardian

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The Guardian

  • The 20 photographs of the week

    Amazon wildfires, protests in Hong Kong, Fridays for Future demonstrations, bombardments in Syria and the Palio di Siena – the last seven days, as captured by the world’s best photojournalists

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  • Streaming: is this the film of the decade?

    A low-budget Brazilian road movie that’s been wowing critics for two years finally makes its UK debut, thanks to Mubi

    I was late getting to this week’s selected film – though not as late as film distributors in the UK: it has never been picked up for a cinema or even a DVD release. For more than two years, respected colleagues have been talking up the merits of Araby, a tiny but mighty fiction debut by Brazilian film-makers João Dumans and Affonso Uchoa. The Hollywood Reporter critic Neil Young has gone so far as to declare it the best film of this fast-closing decade. Having missed it on its year-long festival run in 2017, I waited for a chance to see it on a big screen.

    That chance hasn’t come, but Mubi has, as it so often does, stepped into the breach. Araby is available to stream on their curated menu until mid-September; you’d do well to take the chance while it’s there. The film is, as promised, something very special: a careworn, will-o’-the-wisp road movie, contained within a memory that may or may not be imagined. Dumans and Uchoa have a documentary background that’s evident in their calm, clear-eyed portrait of a hard-knock life in permanent flux. Yet there’s a glimmering, uncertain magic to it too. It’s a film preoccupied with the way we fashion our lives into storytelling.

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  • Is the political novel dead?

    Where is the Nineteen Eighty-Four of our times? As film and TV writers engage with our divided political moment, where is the campaigning literary novel?

    When Anna Burns, author of last year’s Booker prize-winning account of the Troubles, Milkman, was asked whether writing was a political act, she was taken aback. “Honestly? This is the sort of question I don’t know what to do with. It’s not how my brain works.” Eventually she allowed that if politics was about power then yes, OK, her work was political. Such qualms did not deter the judges of the inaugural Orwell prize for political fiction from awarding Burns another trophy. Chair of judges Tom Sutcliffe praised Milkman’s “account of how political allegiances crush and deform our instinctive human loyalties”.

    Like the rest of the Orwell prize shortlist, Milkman has a theme rather than an agenda. Always capacious, the genre of political fiction can now accommodate authors such as Ali Smith, Rachel Kushner, Paul Beatty and Jonathan Coe. As George Orwell wrote: “No book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.” Much harder to find, however, is an example of what one might call the campaigning novel: that subset that includes classics by the likes of Charles Dickens and Émile Zola alongside fiction-cloaked manifestos, memoirs and works of reportage. What unites them is a passionate desire to use character and narrative to draw the reader’s attention to some social ill and to galvanise efforts to remedy it. As Sam Leith, Orwell prize judge, describes the approach: “Look at this, isn’t it awful?”

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  • Fox News is a dangerous state propaganda outlet. Sarah Sanders' job confirms that | Nathan Robinson

    What hope is there for the truth when the press and the state are one and the same?

    The only surprising thing about Sarah Sanders joining FOX News was that it took this long. The former Trump press secretary is a perfect fit for the network, a faithful and shameless propagandist for the right. It would have been shocking if she’d ended up anywhere other than “Trump’s personal YouTube channel.” It is, however, perhaps the most explicit confirmation we have that FOX now functions as the kind of “state television” apparatus that Americans think is is peculiar to countries like Russia and Iran.

    No network interested in airing journalism or reliable commentary would ever go near Sarah Huckabee Sanders. As White House press secretary, she became infamous for the brazenness of her duplicity. Press secretaries are meant to be spin artists, and a good portion of the job consists of finding ways to excuse or downplay presidential misconduct, but Sanders took things to a new level. For example, here she is claiming Trump would never incite or condone violence:

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  • UK consulate worker detained in China is freed in Hong Kong, says family

    Simon Cheng is back in Hong Kong, say relatives and friends, after weeks of detention in mainland China

    A staff member at the British consulate in Hong Kong who was detained in mainland China has been released, his family said on Saturday, ending an ordeal that lasted more than two weeks.

    “Simon [Cheng] has returned to Hong Kong. Thanks to everyone for your support!” said an online message from Rescue Simon Cheng Facebook page run by his family and friends. It said Cheng and his family needed “time and space” to rest and recover and would not take any interviews for the moment.

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