The Rag | Living

‘Shadow and Bone,’ Two Kinds of Pizza, and the History of Woke

Here’s what I consumed this week

“Wait, why are there so many humans out during lockdown?” asked Istanbul cats this week. Photo by Emre on Unsplash

Things are… interesting here in Istanbul, where lockdown is starting to feel like its own superspreader event. First, there was the mass exodus from cities to rural areas before lockdown started. Those who stayed flocked to stores to stock up on food and alcohol, sales of which are banned during this lockdown.

Now, on my social media, folks all over the city are talking about seeing people chilling at parks, riding bikes, and crowding pharmacies and grocery stores. In a city with a centuries-old tradition of delivery infrastructure, it’s hard to make a compelling case for the necessity of going out. Ooooh! Breaking news from one of my expat WhatsApp groups: sales of additional items like electronics, home textiles, and garden supplies will soon be banned, too. Great, now we’ll have a run on potted plants today.

Given the presence of the B.1.617 coronavirus variant, it all just feels so reckless and dangerous—especially for the service workers who don’t have a choice about showing up. And so I am continuing to stay home, leaving ample time for reading, streaming, and noshing. Here’s what I consumed over roughly the last seven days.

Map of the Grisha world from the book and Netflix series, “Shadow and Bone.” Courtesy of Leigh Bardugo.

Immersed in the Grishaverse

While dealing with insomnia, I plowed through the first two books of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse series in preparation for watching the Netflix series of the same name. I needn’t have bothered as the show takes creative liberties with the narrative, mainly by mashing up characters and storylines from Bardugo’s “Six of Crows” spin-off series.

But the biggest surprise for me, having read only the first two books—which mainly take place in Russia-inspired Ravka—and none of the spin-offs, was the diversity of the cast. Most notably, main character Alina Starkov is now half Shu, an Asian-inspired culture at war with Ravka.

Viewers and reviewers had mixed feelings about race as portrayed on “Shadow and Bone.” TL;DR: they nailed it, it went too far, it didn’t go far enough. One writer accused Bardugo, who has Jewish and Russian ancestry, of cultural appropriation of Russian heritage (and linguistic gaffs) in both the books and series.

Look to Screenrant to learn more about for more about the diverse peoples and places of the Grishaverse. Visit the Netflix’s “Shadow and Bone” website to find out what order of Grisha you belong to. Leigh Bardugo’s author website has a similar typology tests for both the Grisha orders and the Crows gang. I’m apparently an Etheralki, though with all the knitting I do, I personally feel I have some Fabrikator tendencies.

Heaven forbid we ever get a pizza oven as I will never again eat anything else. Photo by Nik Owens on Unsplash

Pizza, pizza

Speaking of making things… My partner has been cooking up a storm, continuing my aforementioned gluten frenzy with not one, but two different types of pizzas.

While I am partial to a foldable New York style slice, I can’t ignore the focaccia-like delights of the more pillowy Sicilian crust. It also reminds me of Pizza Hut pizza, a guilty pleasure that started in my tween years when the local library would give out coupons for personal pan pizzas if you read a certain number of books. J. Kenji López-Alt breaks down the differences between the doughs and how you should make them on Serious Eats.

Woke is now cheugy

After reading a tweeter thread (that I now can’t find) about how divorced “woke” has become from its original meaning, I fell headfirst into the interwebs to find out more.

As I did with “canceled,” I erroneously thought “woke” emerged fully formed like a Venus from that sea of lexiconical genius, Black Twitter. Fun fact: “canceled” actually dates back the 1981 Chic hit, “Your Love Is Cancelled,” reports the Washington Post. The expression “stay woke” actually goes back much farther to a 1938 recording of blues legend Huddie Ledbetter.

In 2014, the Black Lives Matter movement mainstreamed #StayWoke as a Twitter hashtag, importantly retaining the “stay” part. These four little letters are the difference between woke, the in-group call to move beyond awareness to vigilant eyes-on-the-back-of-your-head observation and documentation of anti-Black racism and woke, the cheugy self-descriptor for millennial white women who read “White Fragility” and repost #audrelorde Canva quotes on Insta. (Though, full disclosure: I may have totally just followed #audrelorde 😔😬) Now weaponized by the right, woke just feels like just something for white people to argue about. Vox has a great explainer of the entire whole controversy.

American freelancer in Istanbul writing about culture, mental health, race & travel. Bylines everywhere from Al Jazeera to Zora. Tw: @Ruth_Terry | IG:

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