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In Jennifer Egan’s brilliant, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad, Dolly, a desperate, down-and-out celebrity publicist, takes on the job of rehabilitating the image of a genocidal African dictator. Perhaps it’s a book Hilary Swank should have read. Reports Deadline, Swank has fired members of her team following criticism from human rights organizations for accepting a fee to fly to Chechnya and celebrate the birthday of its president, Ramzan Kadyrov.

From an article on the event at The Guardian:

“Ramzan Kadyrov is linked to a litany of horrific human rights abuses,” said a statement from Human Rights Watch (HRW). “It’s inappropriate for stars to get paid to party with him. It bolsters his image and legitimises a brutal leader and his regime. And getting paid to be part of such a lavish show in Chechnya trivialises the suffering of countless victims of human rights abuses there.”

From Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad:

Dolly scrambled off the sofa bed, waxy legs flashing in the street light that leaked in through a broken blind. A movie star. Someone recognizable, appealing — what better way to humanize a man who seemed inhuman? If he’s good enough for her… that was one line of thinking. And also: The general and I have similar tastes: her… Or else: She must find that triangular head of his sexy. Or even: I wonder how the general dances? And if Dolly could get people to ask that question, the general’s image problems would be solved. It didn’t matter how many thousands he’d slaughtered — if the collective vision of him could include a dance floor, all that would be behind him.

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