September 24, 2015

The two Al Jazeera journalists who were imprisoned in Egypt for over a year have been pardoned and released.

Turns out bookish people still like books: Print sales seem to be recovering and, as one bookstore owner tells the New York Times, “The e-book terror has kind of subsided.” The e-reading subscription service Oyster, which is shutting down, its staff apparently moving to Google, nonetheless maintains that “the phone will be the primary reading device globally over the next decade.” Whoever is right, as László Krasznahorkai pointed out last weekend at the Brooklyn Book Festival, Devices are not dangerous for literature. . . . People can be dangerous for literature. People, for example, who do not read.”

Less cheering news from the American Reader, which made the leap to print-only when most were going the other way—the magazine is closing down for lack of funds. The issue due out in October will be the last, though a full digital archive is to be made available soon. Meanwhile, the editors have put out a statement thanking readers “for your attention, support, and fidelity.”

James Patterson

James Patterson

The novelist James Patterson is to receive the National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, for his efforts to help improve people’s access to books and reading—as well as donating millions of dollars to various grants and scholarships, he’s given hundreds of thousands of books to the military and to American children. “I don’t want Harold Bloom to have a coronary,” Patterson told Time, “so let’s be clear that this [award] has nothing to do with Alex Cross or The Women’s Murder Club or Maximum Ride, this is just that I’m a nice little do-gooder.”

You may not have known that you wanted to read the novelist Siri Hustvedt’s thoughts on hair, excerpted from a new collection on the subject.

Back to school: Fall enrolment is open at the Brooklyn Institute, which offers liberal arts classes to all. You can study Marx, Freud, Herodotus, European avant-gardes, James Baldwin’s New York, math, cyborgs, and who knows what else.

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