• March 8, 2017

    The finalists for the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award have been announced. At the Washington Post, Ron Charles reflects on the America represented by the nominees. “There was a time,” he writes, “when all the stars of American literature seemed to be straight white guys named John.” But this year’s finalists—Garth Greenwell, Sunil Yapa, and Imbolo Mbue, Viet Dinh, and Louise Erdrich—are “a sign of how far we’ve progressed from those monochromatic days.”

    Penguin Random House imprint Crown will publish the memoirs of both Barack and Michelle Obama. Crown was the likely choice for the Obamas’ next books, as they had previously published both of Barack Obama’s books, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope, as well as Michelle Obama’s American Grown.

    John le Carré

    John le Carré is bringing back George Smiley and his secret service colleagues in a new novel. A Legacy of Spies follows Smiley’s mentee Peter Guillam and his fellow retired spies as they “are subject to scrutiny for past misdemeanours, committed at a time when there were fewer scruples about the methods used to win the ideological war raging between the west and the Soviets.” The book will be published by Viking in September.

    After WikiLeaks released a trove of documents about CIA hacking tools, The Atlantic’s Kaveh Waddell wonders if, due to questions about the group’s ties to Russia and their role in the election, journalists should be more wary of the site’s information. “Does the gravity of the documents contained in the CIA leak necessitate reporting on them,” he asks, “even before they’re thoroughly vetted?” Waddell points out that even if journalists haven’t become more skeptical of the provided documents, WikiLeaks has changed its strategy anyway. In addition to a well-written press release, the organization also took care to redact more sensitive information and offer reporters a frequently-asked-questions section, with reassurances for writers who worry that other outlets will “find all the best stories before me.” Waddell writes that the new tone makes the site sound “less like a purveyor of newsworthy documents and more like an exclusive club that will only accept reporters who complete a scavenger hunt to the organization’s satisfaction,” Waddell writes. “And the race has already begun.”

    At n+1, Dayna Tortorici makes a case for supporting the women’s strike today. Tortorici writes that women’s work has been trivialized for centuries, and while there are myriad excuses as to why, “the real reason we devalue women’s work is because women are the ones who do it.” She points to the wage drops that happen when women start working in previously male-dominated industries, as well as the wage increases that occur in previously female-dominated sectors as men enter the field. “Why do employers pay women less money than men? Because they can. Why do women tolerate it? Because we’re accustomed to losing,” Tortorici explains. “The strike is an opportunity to collectively refuse what some would choose to see as inevitable.”

  • March 7, 2017

    The husband of Labour Party politician Jo Cox, who was murdered last summer, will publish a memoir about her life. Brendan Cox said that the book was difficult to write, but “in an era of growing hatred and division I wanted to tell the story of someone who brought love and empathy to everyone she met.” Jo Cox: More in Common will be published by Two Roads on June 15.

    The New York Times profiles Turkish novelist Asli Erdogan, who was imprisoned for six months and is now living with her mother in Istanbul while awaiting trial. Erdogan, who is not related to the Turkish president, was charged with supporting terrorism for serving as an adviser to a now-closed newspaper connected to the Kurdish movement. Erdogan says that she is now recognized on the street, and while that sometimes leads to “curses and lectures on patriotism,” it can also be positive. “Sometimes people put their arms on me and cry . . . I receive lots of love,” she said. “That is a big responsibility.”

    Jacqueline Woodson. Photo: Marty Umans

    The National Book Foundation announced the judges for the 2017 National Book Award yesterday. Fiction award judges include Dave Eggers, Jacqueline Woodson, Alexander Chee, while the nonfiction panel includes Jeff Chang, Ruth Franklin, and Paula J. Giddings. The deadline for submissions for the prize is May 17.

    The Paris Review has awarded the Plimpton Prize for Fiction to Alexia Arthurs for her 2016 story, “Bad Behavior.” The magazine also awarded the Terry Southern Prize, which honors “humor, wit, and sprezzatura,” to Vanessa Davis for her comic series, “Summer Hours.”

    Steven Spielberg has signed on to direct The Post, a film about the Washington Post’s fight to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Tom Hanks will play the role of Post editor Ben Bradley, while Meryl Streep will star as publisher Kay Graham.

    At the Post, Erik Wemple wonders if White House reporters will be able to keep up with Trump. Wemple cites Trump’s most recent tweetstorm last Saturday as an example of the president keeping writers and editors on their toes, even on the weekend. At the New York Times, reporters work in teams of two from 6am until midnight for the duration of their “duty week,” after which they are assigned to less-intense coverage roles. Elisabeth Bumiller, the Washington bureau chief for the Times, says that this has become standard operating procedure for most organizations covering the White House. “It is completely unpredictable . . . and it’s relentless,” Bumiller said. “We’ve never covered this kind of a president before.”

    Tonight at the Brooklyn Public Library, Pankaj Mishra talks about his new book, Age of Anger.

  • March 6, 2017

    Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan announced her next novel today. Manhattan Beach follows Anna Kerrigan, “the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s only female driver,” and her mafia-boss father during World War II. The book will be published by Scribner in October.

    Fox News anchor Heather Nauert has been named State Department spokeswoman, becoming the second staffer from the network to be hired at the agency. Nauert was most recently on Fox & Friends, a “program that is one of Trump’s favorites.”

    The Huffington Post looks into The Camp of the Saints, the 1973 French novel often referred to by Steve Bannon during discussions on immigration. A “cult favorite on the far right,” the book tells the story of refugees who arrive in France by boat and the “defenders of the white christian supremacy” that attempt to keep them out. When the book was released in the US in 1975, one Kirkus Review wrote, “The publishers are presenting The Camp of the Saints as a major event, and it probably is, in much the same sense that Mein Kampf was a major event.”

    Liz Spayd examines the gender disparities in the New York Times’s newsroom. Spayd writes that “women have skidded down the power structure since Jill Abramson was dismissed as executive editor three years ago.” Although multiple women were recently added to the masthead, Spayd notes that men make up the top leadership of the paper, and outnumber women as reporters and columnists. Spayd concludes that “if more seats are to be taken up by women . . . it will be up to men to make that happen. They are, after all, the ones with the power to do so.”

    Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. Photo: Chris Boland

    The Guardian talks to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about feminism, raising her daughter between two countries, and her new book, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. Adichie responded to charges that a previous collaboration with Christian Dior on t-shirts that read “We should all be feminists” went against feminist ideology. “The creative director of Christian Dior is obviously a woman of some privilege. But does it then mean that she doesn’t have gender-based problems in her life? Because she does” Adichie said. “Was it going to make the world a better place? No. But I think there’s a level of consciousness-raising and a level of subversion that I like.” Adichie also says that the idea of using feminism as “a marketing ploy” is amusing to her. “Sorry. Feminism is not that hot,” she said. “I can tell you I would sell more books in Nigeria if I stopped and said I’m no longer a feminist.”

    Tonight at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York, WNYC’s Brian Lehrer hosts a panel on immigration in Trump’s America.

  • March 3, 2017

    At The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance explores the timing of the contemporary news cycle, asking, “Why Do the Big Stories Keep Breaking at Night?”

    Tina Brown

    A book based on the diaries Tina Brown kept during her eight years as editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair will be published in November. Brown, who was head of the magazine from 1984 to 1992, says that when she revisited the journals, she “rediscovered how madcap those days were—how chancy, how new, how supercharged.” Henry Holt publisher Stephen Rubin assures readers that the book will have plenty of juicy gossip, promising that Brown will “spill some dirt on some of the flamboyant explosions around her, many of which she ignited herself. This will be a tell-all for the centuries.”

    A lawsuit stemming from BuzzFeed’s publication of the Steele dossier, the unverified document alleging ties between Donald Trump and the Russian government, has been moved to federal court. The suit claims that BuzzFeed libeled Aleksej Gubarev, a tech executive whose name appeared in the document (and which BuzzFeed redacted and later apologized for including).

    At Page-Turner, George Saunders considers the work of Grace Paley, the late author and activist, whose collected writings will be published next month. When you are reading Paley, Saunders writes, “A world is appearing before you that is richer and stranger than you could possibly have imagined, and that world gains rooms and vistas and complications with every phrase. What you are experiencing is intimate contact with an extraordinary intelligence, which causes the pleasant sensation of one’s personality receding and being replaced by the writer’s consciousness.”

    At the New York Times, Ta Nehisi-Coates talks about his Marvel Comics series, “Black Panther,” and the way that politics has always shaped comics: “When you take a book like Spider-Man or Daredevil and the big thing is crime fighting, I don’t think that’s distant from the time when those characters were created. During that period, we had this rising crime, and the city was seen a certain way in a way that Manhattan is not seen today. Even the decision to create Black Panther: It was not an apolitical decision to have this black character in Africa, in this advanced nation, and have him be highly intelligent. All of these were political decisions.”

  • March 2, 2017

    The Evergreen Review has been reborn as an online publication. The legendary magazine, which was started in 1957 by Barney Rosset and folded in 1973, published works by the likes of Samuel Beckett, William S. Burroughs, Susan Sontag and many other notable contributors. The new version is headed by editor-in-chief Dale Peck and published by John Oakes of OR Books. Peck says he plans to make the revived magazine “an international forum for un-sayable things.”

    ABC News president James Goldston has reacted to a petition signed by more than two-hundred ABC staffers, calling on the network to boycott White House press conferences if any outlets are barred from attending: “We’ve expressed our concerns to the White House that it operates in a way that’s open, transparent and fair. . . . And we will continue to stand with our colleagues who cover the White House and to protest when any government official fails to live up to those standards.”

    Katie Kitamura. Photo: Sophie Fiennes.

    Tonight at Greenlight Books in Brooklyn, Katie Kitamura discusses her new novel, A Separation, with Rivka Galchen.

    At the Rumpus, Lauren Elkin talks about her new book, Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London. Describing her subject, Elkin says, “Flânerie is always political, but the flâneuse is more aware of this. She has to be. . . . If you’re born into the center of the culture you can fetishize the margins, but if you’re born on the margins you have to do what you can to get along.”

    Yesterday would have been Robert Lowell’s one-hundredth birthday. At The Guardian, Max Liu makes the case for the poet’s continued importance: “It’s not always easy to feel sympathy for an artist with a trust fund and whose family have their own graveyard. But Lowell knew he was privileged, and the beauty and specificity with which he describes his world creates space for the reader to reflect on their own experience.”  

     

  • March 1, 2017

    Michelle and Barack Obama

    Barack and Michelle Obama have sold the world rights to their forthcoming books to Penguin Random House. The deal was made after an intense bidding war in which offers from Penguin, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster reportedly went over $60 million, with the times reporting that the number “stretched well into eight figures.” Although the amount has yet to be confirmed, it will likely be a historic amount for memoirs from a president and first lady—Bill and Hillary Clinton’s post-presidency books sold for a combined $18 million. The Times notes that President Obama’s memoir “could provide a chance to reframe and highlight the former president’s legacy, at a moment when a new Republican administration is making an effort to dismantle some of his signature legislation.”

    Ursula K. Le Guin, Junot Diaz, and Ann Patchett were among fourteen new members inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters this week. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith were added as honorary members. The official induction ceremony will be held in May.

    BuzzFeed investigates how “hyperpartisan political news gets made.” After looking at nearly identical articles on Kellyanne Conway’s alleged TV ban from websites Liberal Society and Conservative 101—which are owned by the same parent company—Craig Silverman concludes that “all it takes to turn a liberal partisan story into a conservative one is to literally change a few words.”

    At Der Spiegel Veit Medick profiles Alex Jones, the Infowars host and conspiracy theorist who claims to talk regularly on the phone with Trump. Among other things, Jones believes that gay marriage is a conspiracy “to get rid of God,” and that “the government possesses weather weapons it can use to create artificial tornadoes.” According to Medick, “there is no subject on which Jones does not have his own version of the truth to offer, one supported by no facts whatsoever.”

    CNN has confirmed that they will attend this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The news organization will bring journalism students as their guests instead of celebrities. In a statement, CNN said, “We feel there is no better way to underscore our commitment to the health and longevity of a free press than to celebrate its future.”

    Tonight at Symphony Space, authors and actors pay tribute to Clarice Lispector.

  • February 28, 2017

    August Wilson

    Former Boston Globe theater critic Patti Hartigan has signed on to write a biography of August Wilson. Hartigan talked to the New York Times about the difficulty of capturing all aspects of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright in a single book. “I want it to be a legacy biography and a literary biography,” Hartigan said. “I want it to show him as a human being and an artist. But I don’t have 2,000 pages.” The tentatively-titled August Wilson: The Kiln in Which He Was Fired will be published in 2019 by 37 INK, an imprint of Atria Books.

    The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, whose work lead to the publishing of the Panama Papers, has chosen to separate from its parent organization, the Center for Public Integrity. The decision was motivated by looming staff cuts ordered by CPI. “Our team had achieved what had never been achieved before,” said ICIJ director Gerard Ryle. “And here I was, facing the prospect of having to lay off journalists that were the heroes of this story.” The group is currently gathering funding from a variety of sources.

    The Times travels to Kiev to report on StopFake, the Ukrainian news program where “everything is a lie, from start to finish.” The program has spent the past three years debunking fake news stories being spread by the Russian government, such as false reports of ISIS training camps opening in the country or Russian-speaking children being crucified. In that time, the show’s “headlines have declared what did not happen and what was not said, and the heroism or villainy of people who never existed.”

    At the Paris Review blog, Albert Mobilio surveys an exhibition of poet and composer Jackson Mac Low’s art at the Drawing Center in New York. “Mac Low—whose texts were often meant to be performed and, truly, were best comprehended in that manner—has staged the words on these ‘pages’ as carefully as a director blocks a complex scene,” Mobilio writes.

    Tonight at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, Lauren Elkin celebrates the release of her new book, Flâneuse.

  • February 27, 2017

    The New York Public Library has announced the finalists for this year’s Helen Bernstein Book Award, which honors journalistic works of nonfiction. Nominees include Gary Younge’s Another Day in the Death of America, Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, and Charlotte McDonald-Gibson’s Cast Away. The winner will be announced in May.

    Walter Mosley will release a new novel with Mullholland Books, an imprint of Little, Brown. Down the River Unto the Sea follows a Brooklyn private investigator as he investigates “the case of a Black civil rights activist convicted of murdering two city policemen.” The book will be published in February 2018.

    Eileen Myles

    Eileen Myles talks to The Rumpus about her new poetry record, open mic nights, and feminism. Myles discusses the “corralling” that happens to women writers when they are interviewed about their work. “Men are allowed to carry on,” she says, “and women are always asked how they carry on as women.”

    Deadline Hollywood reports that fifty years after it was first published, the film rights to Gay Talese’s “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold” have been optioned by Sinatra’s daughters, Nancy and Tina. The siblings plan to have Talese and Nick Pileggi write the screenplay.

    On Saturday, President Trump tweeted that, unlike every president in the last thirty years, he will not be attending the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The news came one day after Bloomberg decided to cancel their afterparty, an event that their usual co-host, Vanity Fair, had already opted out of earlier this year. BuzzFeed reports that CNN is currently debating whether or not to attend the dinner.

    At the New Yorker, Evan Osnos looks at past presidents’ relationships with the press and compares it to our current commander-in-chief’s war against the media. After the president excluded CNN, the New York Times, and other outlets from a press gaggle on Friday afternoon, it Trump’s treatment of the press might be the most extreme of any other president. Even though some have gone to great lengths to avoid the media—Teddy Roosevelt once had a tumor removed on a friend’s yacht in order to keep the news quiet—Osnos writes that “almost every President has adopted a fruitful, if tense, mutual dependence with the press. Each needs something from the other, and both sides know it.”

    Tonight at the Brooklyn Public Library, Finks author Joel Whitney and filmmaker Immy Humes discuss “the notable publishers and authors whose reputations were tarnished” after working with the CIA.

  • February 24, 2017

    Clive James

    Poet and critic Clive James will publish a sequel to his 2015 short-poem collection, Sentenced to Life. Written after a diagnosis of leukemia, his first book was a reflection on death. But James says that his upcoming book, Injury Time, will be much more upbeat. “When I wrote Sentenced to Life, everyone thought I was dying,” he told The Guardian. “But the new drugs are working and the danger now is that I’ll bore everyone to death.” Injury Time will be published by Picador in May.

    Brooklyn Magazine talks to Roxane Gay about success, Twitter, and pulling her book from Simon & Schuster. Gay said that while it “sucks to pay back the advance” for her cancelled book, How to Be Heard, she has since received over twenty offers on the manuscript.

    LitHub offers a literary guide to the Oscars, which will air this Sunday. Over half the nominees for Best Picture this year are based on novels, and Raoul Peck’s documentary on James Baldwin is up for Best Documentary.

    For the first time in a decade, the New York Times has bought TV advertising time in order to launch a marketing campaign “centered around the Times’ pursuit of ‘The Truth.’” The thirty-second ad will run during Sunday’s Academy Awards broadcast.

    Former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta is joining the Washington Post’s Opinions section as a columnist. In a press release, the paper said that Podesta “will provide commentary and analysis on the intersection of politics and policy, the Trump administration and the future of the Democratic Party.” The Post has also hired former Wall Street Journal reporter Devlin Barrett to cover law enforcement and national security.

    USA Today is the most recent news outlet to offer a secure website for government whistleblowers. The newspaper decided to create the new system after President Trump said he planned to investigate recent leaks from his administration. “Investigative reporting is core to our mission,” said Chief Content Officer Joanne Lipman. “This tool will improve our ability to connect sources and journalists to better hold public officials and civic institutions accountable.”

    In the Times’s “By the Book” column, Chelsea Clinton said that she doesn’t have a specific book that she recommends for the president—she just recommends he read any book at all. “In one of Pérez-Reverte’s Captain Alatriste novels,” she remembered, “one of the characters has a maxim: ‘Never trust a man who reads only one book.’”

  • February 23, 2017

    Helen Oyeyemi. Photo: Tom Pilston

    PEN America has announced most of their 2017 Literary Award winners. Helen Oyeyemi’s What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours won the Open Book Award, and Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City won for nonfiction. Winners of the other prizes will be announced at the end of March.

    The Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists were announced yesterday. Nominees include Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, Emma Cline’s The Girls, Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs To You, and Frances Wilson’s Guilty Thing.

    The Daily Beast has hired conservative journalist Lachlan Markay as White House reporter. Markay was most recently a writer at the Washington Free Beacon, and will focus on “Trump’s intermingling of business and political interests” in his new job.

    CNN reports that Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway has been kept away from cameras for the last week after giving false information about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation. Conway denied that the White House was keeping her from television appearances. “I’ve been invited on shows every day,” she said. “I’m trying to focus on other pieces of my portfolio.” White House officials have since denied the report, saying that Conway has been “deeply involved with the joint session speech this week taking up a lot of her time.”

    At The Intercept, Sam Biddle investigates the relationship between Peter Thiel’s company, Palantir, and the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. Biddle writes that although Thiel only became a mainstream political figure after the last election, his company “has worked for years to boost the global dragnet of the NSA and its international partners, and was in fact co-created with American spies.”

    The Russian Foreign Ministry has launched a website to combat fake news stories that they claim are being spread by Western media. Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova noted that the website won’t be able to post every instance of fake news, because then they would “have to upload 90% of the internet.” The first round of articles, including a Bloomberg story about Russian hackers possibly interfering with the French election and a New York Times piece on a secretly-launched Russian cruise missile, are accompanied not by a breakdown of false information in each piece, but by one line: “This article puts forward information that does not correspond to reality.”

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