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Vanity Fair’s new masthead includes Jesmyn Ward, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Kiese Laymon.

Aaron Robertson

August 24, 2020, 9:41am

A fiction prompt: Imagine you are Vanity Fair editor Radhika Jones.

You wake up about a month or so after the hard, devastating flex that was the Viola Davis cover. Okay, cool. Earlier in August, you got people excited again with the announcement that Ta-Nehisi Coates would guest edit an ambitious fall issue with contributors like Eve Ewing, Ava DuVernay, Danez Smith, and dozens more. Cool, cool.

And then you look at that list of more than 40 guest contributors and think, “Hah, it would be kind of funny if I just brought some of these people onto the masthead. Wait… Bet.”

In addition to bringing on new staff writers like Jessica Pressler, who wrote the article that inspired the movie Hustlers, you ask yourself, who would I love to bring on as contributing editors?

You write down names like Coates (Between the World and Me; The Water Dancer), Jesmyn Ward (Salvage the BonesSing, Unburied, Sing), Kiese Laymon (Heavy), Franklin Leonard (creator of The Black List), and others.

You fold the slip of paper, put it under your pillow, and the next day, voilà!

Thankfully, not all of this scenario is bad fiction.

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