Women as Authors

While I have wasted a perfect pandemic on contemplating physical exercise and other forms of self-improvement without getting anything done, Amal Clooney wrote a book The Right to a Fair Trial in International Law.

For the sake of argument, I need to add the following biographical background about Amal Clooney.

After graduating from Oxford University with a BA in Jurisprudence, Amal (then) Alamuddin studied at the New York City University for an LL.M. She received the Jack J. Katz Memorial Award for excellence in entertainment law and worked in the office of Sonia Sotomayer, then an Appeals Court Judge, now a Justice at SCOTUS.

Clooney is admitted to the bar in New York, England and Wales. She has practised law at International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. Her clients include Julien Assange and Yulia Tymoshenko. Clooney was famously hired in an attempt to repatriate the ancient Greek sculptures, the Elgin Marbles. She has been an adviser to the UN Special Envoy to Syria, Mr Kofi Annan.

She teaches law at Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute. She is currently Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in London. She left her position as the special envoy on media freedom by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office when the UK Government implied in 2019 that they would be willing to break international law over Brexit.

And now she has a book out with Philippa Webb, Professor of Public International Law at King’s College London. The book is about the right to a fair trial in international law, and I will absolutely not recommend you read it over the holidays.

But should you be so inclined, this is what the blurb says:

The book provides a comprehensive explanation of what the right to a fair trial means in practice under international law and focuses on factual scenarios that practitioners and judges may face in court.

Each of the book’s fourteen chapters examines a component of the right to a fair trial as defined in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and reviews the case law of regional human rights courts, international criminal courts as well as UN human rights bodies. Highlighting both consensus and divisions in the international jurisprudence in this area, this book provides an invaluable resource to practitioners and scholars dealing with breaches of one of the most fundamental human rights.

The British Elle, which usually does not review law books (I wish it did – I spent most of my law school reading UK glossies) ran a piece about the book’s publication because Amal Clooney had mentioned her husband in a Zoom-seminar, promoting the book for lawyers. She had thanked her husband for having given her the time to concentrate on the writing process.

Because there cannot be an article about Amal Clooney without a mention of her dashing husband, this is how Elle decided to make the bridge to his pandemic activities: “While Amal has been penning away her thoughts on how to have a fair trial, George has been busy filming, directing and most recently promoting his upcoming Netflix movie.

Penning away her thoughts.

I also happened to read a satisfyingly long piece about J.K.Rowling now that everybody is busy cancelling and vilifying her as a woman and (mainly) children’s author. The New York Times CUT-article builds a case (following an intruder/stalker on her property, Rowling had CCTV and fence installed around her estate to the dismay of her neighbours!!!! OMG! But anything to support a narrative, no?) against a woman who is obsessed with controlling her story and the imaginary world she had created.

As a further proof the article brings forth her idea of a perfect day, as Rowling once said, “was waking up in the morning two-thirds of the way through a book and knowing exactly where she was going, with nothing to do all day but write. Her fantasy was to be left alone in a world where she made the rules.

She’s an author. Controlling the story is her job.
The above is the description of the perfect day of exactly every author under the sun.
But I do get where the article wants to draw the parallels: between Rowling’s post-Potter political comments and the manic re-reading of said Potters in order to find proof that they were always an evil, worldwide plot to sell an agenda (which people collectively only realised in 2020 after coming across her tweet).

(Without taking any position on Rowling’s political comments, pointing a finger at an author for saying “From the word go, it was a boy,” she has said of imagining Harry Potter. “I never thought, Oh, maybe it’s a girl. Never once. It was always a boy” as a proof that in Rowling’s fiction “gender was an essential, immutable fact” is some of the lamest, desperate agenda-pushing I’ve read in a while.)

Stephen King, also known for penning away his thoughts about horror and fantasy, said in a recent interview, when asked about his writing process, that “I still feel much the same as I did in the early days, which is I’m going to leave the ordinary world for my own world. And it’s a wonderful, exhilarating experience. I’m very grateful to be able to have it.
Almost what J.K. Rowling said! Could it be a writers’ thing, this escaping to their own worlds?

Oh, but look, there’s more! When asked about the role of horror fiction in a pandemic, King replied “Well, they’re like dreams, aren’t they? You’re able to go into a world that you know is not real. But if the artist is good — the filmmaker or the novelist or maybe even the painter — for a little while, you’re able to believe that world, because the picture of it and the depiction of it is so real that you can go in there. And yet there’s always a part of your mind that understands that it’s not real, that it’s make-believe.

The journalist did not conclude that King should possibly be boycotted because his fictional depictions of killing people are not politically correct and/or legal.

Writing books. Not easy.

Photo credit: Christian Lutz / Associated Press

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