The 2015 National Magazine Award Winners: A Reading List

This year’s National Magazine Awards were handed out Monday night in New York, with General Excellence honors going to publications including The New Yorker, Glamour, Garden & Gun, Nautilus and The Hollywood Reporter. Vogue won the award for “Magazine of the Year.”

Here’s a brief rundown of some of the winning stories from the night:

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Multimedia: “Beyond the Border” (Texas Observer)

Texas has become the deadliest state in the US for undocumented immigrants. In 2012, 271 migrants died while crossing through Texas, surpassing Arizona as the nation’s most dangerous entry point. The majority of those deaths didn’t occur at the Texas-Mexico border but in rural Brooks County, 70 miles north of the Rio Grande, where the US Border Patrol has a checkpoint. To circumvent the checkpoint, migrants must leave the highway and hike through the rugged ranchlands. Hundreds die each year on the trek, most from heat stroke. This four-part series looks at the lives impacted by the humanitarian crisis.

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Public Interest: “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet” (Amanda Hess, Pacific Standard)

Women who are harassed online through social media sites like Twitter and in the comment sections of media sites have found it difficult to seek help from law enforcement agencies:

So women who are harassed online are expected to either get over ourselves or feel flattered in response to the threats made against us. We have the choice to keep quiet or respond “gleefully.”

But no matter how hard we attempt to ignore it, this type of gendered harassment—and the sheer volume of it—has severe implications for women’s status on the Internet. Threats of rape, death, and stalking can overpower our emotional bandwidth, take up our time, and cost us money through legal fees, online protection services, and missed wages. I’ve spent countless hours over the past four years logging the online activity of one particularly committed cyberstalker, just in case. And as the Internet becomes increasingly central to the human experience, the ability of women to live and work freely online will be shaped, and too often limited, by the technology companies that host these threats, the constellation of local and federal law enforcement officers who investigate them, and the popular commentators who dismiss them—all arenas that remain dominated by men, many of whom have little personal understanding of what women face online every day.

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Reporting: “Inside the Iron Closet: What It’s Like to Be Gay in Putin’s Russia” (Jeff Sharlet, GQ)

Violence, threats and living in fear that things are only going to get worse:

“Something is coming,” says Pavel. What it will be, he’s not sure. He’s worried about “special departments” in local police stations, dedicated to removing children from gay homes. He’s worried about a co-worker discovering him. He is worried about blackmail. He is worried, and he does not know what else to do. He wishes he could fight, but he doesn’t know how. Sign a petition? March in a parade? Pavel would never do that now. “My children,” he murmurs. “This law,” he says, referring to the ban on “propaganda.” “If something happens, it touches only me. And I can protect myself.” But the next law: “This is about my child. My baby.” If the next law passes, they will leave. The two women are doctors and Nik works in higher education, careers that will require new certification. Which means that only Pavel, a manager for the state oil company, will be able to work right away. They will be poor, but they will leave. They might have to separate, Pavel and Irina and Emma to Israel, where Irina can become a citizen, Nik and Zoya and Kristina to any country that will take them. They might have to become the couples they pretend to be. For now, they are staying. “We’re going to teach them,” he says of his two little girls, Emma and Kristina. “How to protect themselves. How to keep silence.”

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Feature Writing: “Love and Ruin” (James Verini, The Atavist)

Nothing about the romance between Nancy Hatch Dupree and Louis Dupree was what you’d call typical. For starters, there were the lovers themselves. Louis was a foul-mouthed paratrooper turned swashbuckling archaeologist. Nancy was a witty travel writer and the wife of a CIA station chief on the ragged frontier of the Cold War. Then there was the place and time: Kabul, Afghanistan in the 1960s, a heady and short-lived milieu of conniving spies, future mujahideen, and cocktail-swilling cosmopolitans.

It was there that Nancy and Louis fell in love not only with each other, but also with Afghanistan itself. The country was as exceptional and difficult as they were—and when it descended into chaos, they had no choice but to follow it. In “Love and Ruin,” journalist James Verini travels to Afghanistan in search of the Duprees’ story, an exhilarating and heartbreaking tale of lives lived to the fullest in one of the world’s most fascinating and forbidding places.

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Essays and Criticism: “This Old Man” (Roger Angell, The New Yorker)

On life as a nonagenarian:

I get along. Now and then it comes to me that I appear to have more energy and hope than some of my coevals, but I take no credit for this. I don’t belong to a book club or a bridge club; I’m not taking up Mandarin or practicing the viola. In a sporadic effort to keep my brain from moldering, I’ve begun to memorize shorter poems—by Auden, Donne, Ogden Nash, and more—which I recite to myself some nights while walking my dog, Harry’s successor fox terrier, Andy. I’ve also become a blogger, and enjoy the ease and freedom of the form: it’s a bit like making a paper airplane and then watching it take wing below your window. But shouldn’t I have something more scholarly or complex than this put away by now—late paragraphs of accomplishments, good works, some weightier op cits? I’m afraid not. The thoughts of age are short, short thoughts. I don’t read Scripture and cling to no life precepts, except perhaps to Walter Cronkite’s rules for old men, which he did not deliver over the air: Never trust a fart. Never pass up a drink. Never ignore an erection.

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Fiction: “The Emerald Light in the Air” (Donald Antrim, New Yorker)

In less than a year, he’d lost his mother, his father, and, as he’d once and sometimes still felt Julia to be, the love of his life; and, during this year, or, he should say, during its suicidal aftermath, he’d twice admitted himself to the psychiatric ward at the University Hospital in Charlottesville, where, each stay, one in the fall and one the following summer, three mornings a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, he’d climbed onto an operating table and wept at the ceiling while doctors set the pulse, stuck electrodes to his forehead, put the oxygen meter on his finger, and then pushed a needle into his arm and instructed him, as the machines beeped and the anesthetic dripped down the pipette toward his vein, to count backward from a hundred; and now, another year later, he was on his way to the dump to throw out the drawings and paintings that Julia had made in the months when she was sneaking off to sleep with the man she finally left him to marry, along with the comic-book collection—it wasn’t a collection so much as a big box stuffed with comics—that he’d kept since he was a boy. He had long ago forgotten his old comics; and then, a few days before, he’d come across them on a dusty shelf at the back of the garage, while looking for a carton of ammo.

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Columns and Commentary: Jerry Saltz, New York Magazine:

1. “Zombies on the Walls: Why Does So Much New Abstraction Look the Same?

2. “Taking in Jeff Koons, Creator and Destroyer of Worlds

3. “Do Not Miss MoMA’s Overwhelming Henri Matisse Exhibition

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Video: “The Islamic State” (Medyan Dairieh, Vice, August 2014)