• May 8, 2017

    Jessa Crispin

    The De-Canon Project, a “pop-up library” that showcases work by artists of color, has started building a new archive of texts in which writers of color (including Cathy Park Hong, Junot Diaz, and Charles Johnson) discuss craft. As Neil Aitken writes, “A few weeks ago I was thinking about how Junot Diaz often comments on the fact he’s almost never asked to speak about craft, and instead always is asked to talk about race, identity, and the immigrant experience. And it’s true—when I think about all the books on writing craft I’ve read or heard about over the years I’m struck by how few POC-authored books on writing I’ve seen. Are they really that rare? Or are the books and essays out there, but we don’t know where to find them?”

    Jessa Crispin, the author of The Dead Ladies Project and Why I Am Not a Feminist, weighs in on Ivanka Trump’s new book Women Who Work: It reads, Crispin quips, “like the scrambled Tumblr feed of a demented 12-year-old who just checked out a copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations from the library.”

    The Huffpost reports on a new Amazon policy that can further drive down the value of books, punish small booksellers, and “undermine authors.”

    The New York Times Book Review’s Radhika Jones talks with Americanah author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about her latest book, Dear Ijeawele; Or, A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions.

    Author and translator Idra Novey has won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, and with it $100,000, for her debut novel, Ways to Disappear.

  • May 5, 2017

    Shattered, the recent book about Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, may become a TV miniseries. TriStar Television has purchased the rights to the book, although a network has not yet been found.

    After reporter Chris Villani was suspended without pay for tweeting without editor approval, staff of the Boston Herald staff are boycotting Twitter entirely. According to the paper’s union, the social media policy has been in place since 2013, but this is the first time it has been used to discipline an employee. In a statement, the Guild noted that the policy has put the Herald “at odds with innovative news organizations across the country.” Union members have changed their Twitter avatars to a black screen, and will not tweet until Villani has returned to work.

    Bob Mankoff. Photo: Davina Pardo

    Former New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff has joined Esquire as the magazine’s inaugural cartoon and humor editor. Mankoff had worked at the New Yorker for two decades before announcing his departure last month. “It’s a lot easier picking cartoons than doing them,” he told the New York Times in March. “But it’s not quite as much fun.”

    Some of the authors and entrepreneurs quoted in Ivanka Trump’s new book are speaking out. “Don’t use my story in #WomenWhoWork unless you are going to stop being #complicit,” Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani tweeted. Deepak Chopra, who was also quoted, said, “Ivanka means well. . . . Perhaps she will speak up to her father soon.” At the New Yorker, Jia Tolentino writes that Women Who Work “should put an end to the idea that Ivanka is particularly self-aware.” Tolentino notes that Trump’s suggestions—like asking for flex-time and proving yourself before asking for a raise—are applicable to Ivanka alone. “Wealthy upper managers with families don’t need to be reminded of the importance of setting goals, and Ivanka’s directives are utterly irrelevant to anyone struggling to pay for childcare and housing at the same time,” Tolentino writes. “By the end of the book, she’s basically speaking to no one.”

    Tonight at the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York, Tom McCarthy will deliver a lecture about literature, art, and media, followed by a conversation with Hal Foster about his new essay collection, Typewriters, Bombs, Jellyfish.

  • May 4, 2017

    The first plans for Barack Obama’s presidential library in Chicago were unveiled yesterday. Designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the library will include classrooms, an auditorium, and a public garden. In his announcement, Obama said that the campus-like design was chosen to “create an institution that will train the next generation of leadership.”

    April Ryan

    White House reporter April Ryan has been named the National Association of Black Journalists’ Journalist of the Year. “In the White House press corps circle, where too few black women have been given an opportunity to report, April has excelled and persevered in spite of the many obstacles she has confronted,” said NABJ President Sarah Glover.

    The LA Times talks to Paula Hawkins about film adaptations, family dynamics, and troubled women. Hawkins said that she is committed to creating complex female characters, but that she tends to gravitate toward the damaged. “If I were writing about happy people it wouldn’t be a crime novel,” she said.

    Carolina A. Miranda remembers Jean Stein, who died earlier this week. Miranda spent a summer working as Stein’s research assistant for an oral history project about Los Angeles. “That summer, Jean and I interviewed cops, lawyers, judges, community activists, small business owners and ministers. We hung out in South L.A. motels and fancy-pants restaurants in Beverly Hills,” she writes. “Jean was at home everywhere with everybody.”

    Hulu announced that The Handmaid’s Tale will get a second season, with a premiere in 2018. In a statement, Hulu head of content Craig Erwich said, “We can’t wait to explore the world of Gilead and continue Margaret’s vision.”

    At Politico, Ben Strauss wonders whether the recent round of layoffs at ESPN were caused by the network’s increasing political coverage. After one critic attributed the company’s financial collapse to the “absurd decision to turn into MSESPN, a left wing sports network,” Strauss examines ESPN’s changing viewer demographics, falling subscription numbers, and historically apolitical nature.

    James Poniewozik analyzes the new prime-time lineup at Fox News. According to Poniewozik, the “fleur-de-sel-of-the-earth” persona of Tucker Carlson might seem at odds with the typical Fox viewer, but common enemies bring them together. “What matters more than policy is your side’s winning, and what matters more than your side’s winning is the other side’s losing,” Poniewozik writes. “So the major product of much conservative news media, to quote a popular postelection souvenir mug, is liberal tears. And Mr. Carlson drinks them like a refreshing chablis.”

  • May 3, 2017

    Tor Books has created a new imprint. Tor Labs will “emphasize experimental approaches to genre publishing.” The imprint’s first project will be an audiodrama, Steal the Stars, that will air in a weekly podcast beginning next August.

    Page Six reports that Tucker Carlson has signed a $9 million, two-book deal with Threshold Editions, the Simon & Schuster imprint. Both books are “current events-oriented, provocative and funny.”

    Even after Sean Hannity called an all-staff meeting to announce that he had no plans to leave Fox News, network insiders are still expecting more organizational turmoil. The New York Daily News reports that Suzanne Scott, who replaced Shine as president this week, “mobilized Fox Newsers to bash Gretchen Carlson amid the ex-host’s sexual harassment claims.” At the Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan analyzes Rupert Murdoch’s memo announcing Bill Shine’s resignation. “In just 56 words, the top dog at 21st Century Fox managed to fudge, obfuscate and—most of all—reaffirm his allegiance to the only values that matter: profits,” she writes.

    The Economist is the latest publication to report a boost in subscribers since the 2016 election. The magazine has seen a nearly 20 percent growth in paying readers since last November.

    Bernie Sanders is working on a political book for young adults. “This book will expose them to an unusual political campaign, the excitement of politics and what being a progressive is all about,” Sanders said. The Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution will be published next August.

    Pamela Paul

    The Millions talks to Pamela Paul about her work at the New York Times Book Review, writing and risk, and her new book, My Life With Bob.

    The Associated Press compares Ivanka Trump’s new book, Women Who Work, to her 2009 debut, The Trump Card, declaring that the first daughter “has gone from sassy to serious.” At HuffPo, Emily Peck contrasts Trump’s lack of awareness of her own privilege to Sheryl Sandberg’s most recent book, in which the Facebook CEO is very upfront over how much help she’s had. “As someone who now has the president’s ear and may help shape policies that affect working families,” Peck writes, “Trump has a responsibility to dig deeper.”

    CNN has declined to run a political ad from Donald Trump that attacks the network as fake news. The thirty-second commercial promoting the president’s first one hundred days includes an image declaring numerous network news anchors, including CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, as “fake news.” In a statement, the network said that they won’t be able to run the ad until all false information is removed. “The mainstream media is not fake news, and therefore the ad is false,” the network wrote. “Per our policy it will be accepted only if the graphic is deleted. Those are the facts.”

  • May 2, 2017

    Jean Stein. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

    The New York Post reports that the woman who jumped to her death last weekend from an Upper East Side high rise was Jean Stein, author of Edie: American Girl and West of Eden. She was 83.

    Fox News co-president Bill Shine resigned yesterday. “A longtime lieutenant to its disgraced former chairman, Roger Ailes,” Shine “was viewed by some employees as a symbol of Fox News’s old-guard leadership,” according to the New York Times. With Shine leaving the company, Variety reports that all eyes are on Sean Hannity. One source told the Daily Beast that Shine’s departure has forced the prime-time host to consider leaving the network, but a network spokesperson told Talking Points Memo that the rumor is “completely untrue.”

    Gabriel Sherman talks to Breitbart editor in chief Alex Marlow about reporting on his former boss, the website’s role as a White House mouthpiece, and interviewing Jared Kushner.

    Axios examines the New York Times’s weekend Trump coverage, and wonders if the paper is trying to win over more Trump voters through positive coverage. The website notes a Sunday Review campaign “to get readers to ‘Say Something Nice About Donald Trump,” as well as a cover story that “respectfully channeled the Steve Bannon world view.” According to Axios, “neither of the pieces appeared to be sarcastic.” The paper is also losing subscribers over Bret Stephens’ inaugural column, which doubted the science behind climate change.

    Actress Gabourey Sidibe, known for her roles in Precious and American Horror Story, talks to Penelope Green about her breakout role, confidence, and her new book, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare. Sidibe says that after struggling with money early on in her career—after Precious was screened at Sundance, Green writes, “Ms. Sidibe experienced fame without fortune, riding subways and buses to red carpet events”—she was shocked that eighteen publishers were ready to bid on her memoir. “I was ready to sell the book for $70,000,” Sidibe said. “It was much more than I expected.”

    At LitHub, Amanda Arnold looks at the history of working-class literature in America, and the genre’s struggle to find a home in academia.

    After Fortune published an exclusive excerpt of Ivanka Trump’s new book, Women Who Work, HuffPo writes that Twitter users “don’t seem to be buying what she’s selling.” Many took issue with Trump’s description of being in “survival mode” during the campaign, which meant going without massages. “I wish I could have awoken early to meditate for twenty minutes and I would have loved to catch up with the friends I hadn’t seen in three months,” Trump writes, “but there just wasn’t enough time in the day.” Women Who Work is published today by Portfolio.

  • May 1, 2017

    Chris Kraus

    On Friday, Bret Stephens’s debut op-ed in the New York Times, a column in which he defended some climate-change skeptics, infuriated environmentalists and “didn’t sit well with many of his colleagues in the newsroom.” Many Times readers have threatened to cancel their subscriptions. The Times has now released a statement from op-ed editor James Bennet, who states, “If all of our columnists and all of our contributors and all of our editorials agreed all of the time, we wouldn’t be promoting the free exchange of ideas, and we wouldn’t be serving our readers very well.” At the Washington Post, Erik Wemple calls the statement the “Editorial Page Editor’s Boilerplate Kumbaya Response to Public Outrage.”

    Emma Straub, author of the bestselling novel Modern Lovers, has opened a new bookstore in Brooklyn called Books are Magic.

    George Saunders talks about moving from the short story to writing his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo: “I thought, if I don’t try this thing now . . . I’m not getting any younger, so maybe it would be a good time to take a real artistic risk, to genuinely risk failure.”

    At The Guardian, Chris Kraus talks about the new TV adaptation (by Jill Soloway) of her book I Love Dick. “Of course, they’ve changed it,” she says. “But one brilliant thing they’ve done is to tap into the phenomenon of the book, the way it now has a life of its own.” Reflecting on whether the book is a personal one, Kraus notes, “It’s a universal comedy. Who hasn’t had an affair? Who hasn’t had an infatuation? Even so, the serious question that goes unanswered in I Love Dick is: what could bring a married couple to collaborate on love letters to a third person?”

    Today is the deadline to apply for the Yi Dae Up Fellowship. Funded by the novelist Alexander Chee, the fellowship provides funds (and a $500 travel stipend) to an Asian or Asian American woman to attend the Jack Jones writing retreat for women of color in Taos, New Mexico. The retreat will take place October 12 through 26.

  • April 28, 2017

    President Barack Obama and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Photo: Pete Souza / White House

    Ta-Nehisi Coates is working on two new books. We Were Eight Years in Power, which will be released in October, was developed from Coates’s many articles on Barack Obama for The Atlantic. Coates is also working on a work of fiction, which is still in progress. Both books will be published by One World.

    Page Six reports that Colson Whitehead is working on a new book. “I am working on another depressing novel for the masses,” he said. “It takes place in Florida in the 1960s.”

    James Patterson is working on a true crime book about Aaron Hernandez, the former NFL star who killed himself last week while awaiting sentencing for a murder conviction. “While his life was marred by controversy, he had incredible potential and undisputed talent,” Patterson said in a statement. “Along the way, his life spiraled out of control—and I felt compelled to ask: What went wrong?” The still-untitled book will be published by Little, Brown next year.

    PEN America has released a report detailing all the ways that the Trump administration has threatened free speech in their first one hundred days in office. The group found “at least 76 instances in which President Trump and/or his Administration have undermined the work of the press.” The organization writes that these incidents are “harmful to our democracy and to our respect for the Constitution, and we all—whatever our political affiliation—must continue to stand up and say so.”

    At Marie Claire, Kaitlin Menza profiles Emily Steel, the New York Times reporter whose exposé on Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment settlements forced the anchor out of Fox News. “She is petite, with a soft high-pitched voice,” Menza writes, “exactly the kind of woman that a man like Bill O’Reilly might underestimate.” New York magazine’s Gabe Sherman reports that the turmoil is not yet over at the company. Sherman writes that network co-president Bill Shine is concerned “about his future at the network” after James and Lachlan Murdoch denied his request that they “release a statement in support of him.” In response, Sean Hannity tweeted to Sherman that, if true, “that’s the total end of the FNC as we know it.”

  • April 27, 2017

    Granta has released their annual list of the best young American novelists, which includes Ottessa Moshfegh, Garth Risk Hallberg, Yaa Gyasi, and Emma Cline, among others. At The Guardian, Michelle Dean writes that “the list’s apparent lack of theme or consistency” is representative of post-Trump America. “Though the power and the strife of the country might be at the forefront of their minds, especially now, especially after November,” she writes, “I would be surprised if any novelist on this list thought of themselves as having articulated something about that big fractious concept known as ‘America.’”

    Barack Obama’s former photographer Pete Souza is working on a book for Little, Brown. Obama: An Intimate Portrait: The Historic Presidency in Photographs will be published in November, and includes over three hundred photos of the former president from Souza’s collection of ten thousand.

    At Backchannel, Steven Levy talks to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey about the company’s growth, continued digital harassment, and Donald Trump’s continued tweeting. Dorsey says he’s not surprised that Trump’s tweetstorms have not abated. “If you were him,” he asked, “why change the momentum of what made you win in the first place?”

    Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson is writing a book. Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back “will encourage women to fight against harassment and abuse in every aspect of their lives, from schoolyard bullying to the gender pay gap,” and will also include “a playbook to help women and men better understand and combat harassment in the workplace. The book will be published by Hachette imprint Center Street Books next September.

    Reporter and anchor Kelly Wright has joined the racial discrimination lawsuit against Fox News, which now has thirteen plaintiffs. In his suit, Wright said that he was “shunned” from Bill O’Reilly’s show for pitching “a series of positive stories about the African-American community” because the segments “showed Blacks in ‘too positive’ a light.” In a press conference yesterday, Wright said that he was initially reluctant to join the lawsuit. “When my colleagues from other departments began to reveal their encounters with blatant acts of discrimination in their departments, I watched it. I prayed about it. I cried over it,” he said. “I could no longer sit in silence, collect my paycheck, and act like I didn’t experience racial bias on my own level as an on-air personality.”

    Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me is being adapted into a stage production for the Apollo Theater. The performance will include video projections, excerpts from Coates’s book, and music by Jason Moran. According to Kamilah Forbes, the executive producer of the Apollo and director of the production, Coates will offer “creative guidance” to the project “and may appear in the production.”

  • April 26, 2017

    The standing committee of the US Senate Daily Press Gallery has decided not to move forward with Breitbart’s application for permanent press credentials. The website’s temporary passes will expire at the end of May. The committee was concerned about Breitbart’s many conflicts of interest inside the White House, as well as “the fact that Breitbart is now without a managing editor entirely.” In a statement, the website said that they are “unequivocally entitled to permanent Senate Press Gallery credentials and is determined to secure them.”

    William Gibson. Photo: Fred Armitage

    The New York Times talks to science-fiction novelist William Gibson, whose upcoming book explores the attempts of Londoners in the twenty-second century, after “decades of cataclysmic events have killed 80 percent of humanity,” to interfere with the history of an alternative 2017 San Francisco, in which “Hillary Clinton won the election.” Gibson said he began writing the novel before the 2016 election, and that the results forced him to reconceptualize the whole book. “I assumed that if Trump won, I’d be able to shift a few things and continue to tell my story,” he said. “It was immediately obvious to me that there had been some fundamental shift and I would have to rebuild the whole thing.” Agency will be published by Berkley next January.

    Greek-yogurt maker Chobani is suing Infowars’s Alex Jones for defamation, after articles and videos on his site “falsely linked the company to child rape and a tuberculosis outbreak.” The company says that Jones has ignored repeated requests to remove the offending articles. In a statement, Jones blamed the lawsuit on George Soros, citing White House and Congressional sources. “I’m not backing down, I’m never giving up, I love this,” he said. “They have jumped the trillion-pound great white shark on this baby.”

    Variety’s Maureen Ryan looks at the making of Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which premieres today. Elisabeth Moss says that she was drawn to the show due to the timely nature of its story. “It is not the distant future and it is not the distant past,” she said. “It’s now.” After the trailer was released, Atwood said that people asked her if it was a documentary. “Not quite yet,” she responded.

    Farhad Manjoo looks at Facebook’s changing attitude toward the problem of fake news. Manjoo first visited Facebook headquarters in January, before Trump’s inauguration. At that point, CEO Mark Zuckerberg was still skeptical that his company had any responsibility toward the issue. “Echo chambers were a concern,” Manjoo writes, “but if the source was people’s own confirmation bias, was it really Facebook’s problem to solve?” A month later, Manjoo was invited back to Facebook’s offices, which look “less like the headquarters of one of the world’s wealthiest companies and more like a Chipotle with standing desks,” to discuss a draft of Zuckerberg’s manifesto for fixing Facebook’s fake news problem. Manjoo notes that at that point, Zuckerberg was still unsure about the plan. “He had almost as many questions for us . . . as we had for him,” Manjoo writes. “When I suggested that it might be perceived as an attack on Trump, he looked dismayed.”

  • April 25, 2017

    Philippa Gregory has signed on to write four books with Touchstone. Three of the books will be a series of novels, following a British family from the seventeenth century to the twentieth century. Gregory’s fourth book will be a work of nonfiction that explores “the contributions of extraordinary, yet little-known women throughout the centuries, historically demonstrating women as agents of their own destinies.” The first book will be published in September 2019.

    The Huffington Post has a new name: HuffPost. Editor in chief Lydia Polgreen said the decision came from a desire to reflect “what our readers call us anyway.” In a letter from the editor, Polgreen addressed the renaming and redesign of the site, which she says comes from a desire to reach “people experiencing anger, voicelessness and powerlessness” on all sides of the political spectrum. “The biggest divide in America, indeed across the globe, is between those who have power and those who don’t, and that doesn’t easily line up with our red and blue, left or right politics,” she writes. “I think we can do better for people who feel that too much political and economic power has accrued to a very small elite.”

    Tucker Carlson is working on a book deal. The Fox News host, who recently took over for Bill O’Reilly, is aiming for a million-dollar contract. “The book is not autobiographical in nature,” one source told BuzzFeed, “but rather reflects on themes Carlson cares about.”

    Rafia Zakaria details the history of Hogarth Press, which was founded by Virginia and Leonard Woolf partly to “free the couple from the whims of publishers.” Although the new press eased the literary couple’s stress from waiting for publishers to answer their letters, it wasn’t always easy. After losing friends due to contract negotiations and other aspects of the business, Zakaria writes, “Virginia and Leonard both discovered that the limitations of publishers, their one-time oppressors, were now their own.”

    Maylis de Kerangal

    Maylis de Kerangal’s Mend the Living has become only the second novel to win the Wellcome prize for science writing. The book, released as The Heart in the US, details the twenty four hours surrounding a heart transplant—from the car accident that left a teenager with catastrophic injuries to the organ recipient’s surgery.

    Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, died yesterday at the age of 88. The LA Times notes that Pirsig’s book was rejected by 121 publishers, and “the 122nd gently warned Pirsig . . . not to expect more than his $3,000 advance.” The book eventually sold over five million copies and was translated into dozens of languages.

    Tonight at Albertine, Teju Cole talks to Édouard Louis about his new book, The End of Eddy.

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