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Grantland’s Jay Caspian Kang: My Top 5 Longreads of 2011

Jay Caspian Kang (pictured above) is an editor at Grantland. His work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine and The Morning News. His first novel, The Dead Do Not Improve, will be published by Hogarth/Random House in August 2012.

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David Hill: “$100 Hand of Blackjack, Foxwoods Casino” (McSweeney’s)

This is the sort of piece you want to compare to other writers like Didion or Carver or even James Baldwin, but you hold off because you don’t want to piss off the author by getting it wrong. Yes, there’s a bit of Didion’s calmness here, a bit of Carver’s bleariness, and a bit of Baldwin’s honesty-at-all-costs, but David Hill’s prose sings with a melancholy that’s truly original. The one piece from 2011 that had me punching the wall with jealousy. By far my favorite read of the year.

Mike Kessler: “What Happened to Mitrice Richardson?” (Los Angeles magazine)

Great crime writing. Thoroughly reported and well constructed.

Alma Guillermoprieto: “In the New Gangland of El Salvador” (New York Review of Books)

My thoughts on Guillermoprieto can be found here.

Francisco Goldman: “The Wave” (The New Yorker, sub. required)

This is gut-wrenching. Goldman’s novel, Say Her Name, is somehow even more powerful.

Jon Ronson: “Robots Say the Damnedest Things” (GQ)

When this very funny piece about robots is over, you start thinking a bit differently about love. I don’t know how Jon Ronson achieved that effect, but “Robots Say the Damnedest Things,” was my most fun read of 2011.

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