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7 deadly reads

Sitdown Sunday: 'All that's left in the homes are the elderly, weak women, and children'

Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour. 

1. The two sides of Maradona

A look at the fascinating life of Diego himself.

(The Ringer, approx 41 mins reading time)

The Maradonas came from a town called Esquina, in the Corrientes province of northeastern Argentina. Diego himself wasn’t born there—by 1960, when he arrived, the family had relocated to Buenos Aires, 400 miles to the south—but his parents, at least, never stopped thinking of it as home. It was the place they always went back to. Later, when Diego was famous, Esquina was where he’d withdraw to retreat from the pressures of stardom. 

2. What it’s like to be in your nineties

Things are a little creaky, but you learn to really appreciate your loved ones.

(The New Yorker, approx 23 mins reading time)

Here in my tenth decade, I can testify that the downside of great age is the room it provides for rotten news. Living long means enough already. When Harry died, Carol and I couldn’t stop weeping; we sat in the bathroom with his retrieved body on a mat between us, the light-brown patches on his back and the near-black of his ears still darkened by the rain, and passed a Kleenex box back and forth between us. Not all the tears were for him. 

3. What is TikTok, anyway?

A look at what it’s like to be a teen who got famous on the app TikTok. 

(Vox, approx 25 mins reading time)

Haley is on her way to getting the thing she wants, the thing all of her friends want. To be a very online young person in 2019 is to share the same goal: have the kind of social media following wherein performing your life online becomes a paying job. Haley and her friends, and their friends, and their friends, want to be stars in the constellation of professionally watchable influencers who rack up millions of views and considerable livelihoods by simply hanging out on their couch. They don’t want a boring day job, because who does? 

4. Voices from Xinjiang

Here are some untold stories from ‘China’s gulag state’, about what it’s like to live under surveillance. 

(The Believer, approx 107 mins reading time)

Chinese officials initially denied the existence of mass internment camps in Xinjiang. Since 2018, they have described them as vocational and educational centers for “criminals involved in minor offenses.” But leaked documents suggest that residents are targeted for detention en masse based on their ethnic background, religious practices, and any history of traveling abroad. According to one internal report by Xinjiang’s agriculture department, the drive has been so thorough that “all that’s left in the homes are the elderly, weak women, and children.”

5. Making noise

If an audience member makes a ruckus during a show – or takes out a phone, or snaps photos – is it ok to stop the show and ask them to stop?

(New York Times, approx 6 mins reading time)

By the third song, Mr. Henry had had enough. So he reached into the seats, deftly grabbed the phone out of the man’s hand, wagged it disapprovingly, and tossed it under a riser — all mid-song, without skipping a beat. “I knew I had to do something,” he explained later.

6. We stan Edna

A profile of the indubitably iconic Enda O’Brien.

(The New Yorker, approx mins reading time)

O’Brien allowed herself to be filmed walking, with wistful purpose, across windblown hilltops, in layers of long garments—looking, as Clive James once put it, “like the head prefect of a private school for the daughters of rich Romantic poets.” She made the case for “occasional adultery, like once a year,” at a current-affairs roundtable on the BBC. She judged the 1972 Miss Beautiful Eyes competition, and advertised Wella shampoo.


In the 1970s, Nancy Weber swapped her life with another woman – they took each other’s names, slept in each other’s beds (and with each other’s partners), and worked in each other’s jobs. Things didn’t go quite to plan.

(The Guardian, approx 15 mins reading time)

One in particular stood out. It was short, but to the point: ‘I am ready to swap lives with you. Have house in Bucks County, apartment in Buffalo, loving lovers here and there. No shrink to see. In fact, I am one. But don’t worry, the work is no sweat. I am already out of my skin, and willing to try yours.’ It was signed ‘Micki’. Nancy picked up the phone, and hastily arranged a meeting.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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