• November 10, 2016

    Authors weigh in on Trump’s win: Philip Pullman asks, “Is there something wrong with democracy?” George R. R. Martin published a post entitled “President Pussygrabber,” concluding, “Winter is coming. I told you so.” At The Guardian, Marilynne Robinson reflects on what can be learned from this election. “From the very beginning, this election season has been a stress test. It has revealed weaknesses, actual and potential, in the American political system,” she writes. “Voters have now ensured these can no longer be ignored.” Margaret Atwood is bracing for a real-life Handmaid’s Tale.

    Margaret Atwood

    Margaret Atwood

    Who is to blame for Trump’s election? As Alex Pareene writes, pretty much everyone. Glenn Greenwald points to “the institutions and elite factions that have spent years mocking, maligning, and pillaging large portions of the population—all while compiling their own long record of failure and corruption and destruction.” Max Read blames the social media echo chamber. Thomas Frank calls out the “chronic complacency that has been rotting American liberalism for years.” At The Stranger, Ijeoma Oluo writes that it wasn’t third party votes or Clinton’s unlikeability that caused her to lose: “We have elected violent white supremacist patriarchy into office because the vast majority of white American voters chose to elect violent white supremacist patriarchy into office.” Margaret Sullivan highlights the magical thinking that blinded the media to the possibility of electing Trump. “It would be too horrible. So, therefore,” Sullivan writes, “it couldn’t happen.”

    Mexico’s Vanguardia newspaper announced Trump’s win with one word: “Upsss!” (Oops!), while BuzzFeed’s Bim Adewunmi asks “What Is America So Afraid Of?” Her answer: “Every damn thing.” At Columbia Journalism Review, Kyle Pope writes that “a new era needs to begin, a period in which reporting takes precedent over opinion, when journalists are willing to seek out and understand people with whom they may have profound personal and philosophical differences.”

    The New York Times offers a list of books “for those trying to understand the political, economic, regional and social shifts that drove one of the most stunning political upsets in the nation’s history on Tuesday.” The list includes George Packer’s The Unwinding, Arlie Russell Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land, and Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal, among others. It’s a good time to revisit Public Book’s more extensive syllabus on understanding Trump’s rise.

    Madeleine Thien’s novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing has won the Giller Prize, Canada’s most renowned book award.

    A new book by Joan Didion will be published by Penguin Random House next March. South and West: From a Notebook will be comprised of Didion’s writings from a road trip across the country with her husband.

  • November 9, 2016

    This morning, following last night’s presidential-election upset, Poynter has assembled a selection newspaper front pages announcing Trump’s win.

    whitelash_cnnNew York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg details the many ways that journalists and pollsters misread Donald Trump’s election chances. Rutenberg writes that on Tuesday night, as the media scrambled to adjust to the fact that all of their predicted outcomes were off-base, “it was clear that something was fundamentally broken in journalism, which has been unable to keep up with the anti-establishment mood that is turning the world upside down.”

    At the New Republic, Ryu Spaeth writes that the election of Trump is a repudiation of everything President Obama stood for, particularly racial progress: “Obama is fond of quoting Martin Luther King Jr.’s line, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ Clearly nothing could be further from the truth.” At the New Yorker, David Remnick, Amy Davidson, and Evan Osnos weigh in on Trump’s victory. Remnick writes: “Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted.”

    The n+1 website has posted an eloquent and important essay by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio about what it was like to be an undocumented immigrant watching last night’s election coverage.

    The Huffington Post has decided to no longer use an editor’s note calling Trump a “serial liar,” “racist,” and “misogynist,” which they’ve appended to recent stories about Trump. In a memo to HuffPo staff obtained by Politico, Washington Bureau chief Ryan Grim wrote, “The thinking is that . . . he’s now president and we’re going to start with a clean slate.”

  • November 8, 2016

    Game of Thrones mastermind George R. R. Martin has endorsed Hillary Clinton in a series of blog posts, writing that “there has never been a presidential candidate more unfit to lead this nation” than Donald Trump.

    Elissa Schappell, the author of the story collection Blueprints for Building Better Girls and the co-founder of Tin House, has published an interview with an imaginary Hillary hater. And, inverting the technique used in David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, she provides us only with the questions, urging the reader to imagine the enraged answers.

    Mira Jacob, the author of the novel The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, and Emily Raboteau, the author of Searching for Zion, write about raising children of color in the age of Trump.

    At the Times, Simon Critchley writes about the “brexistential dread” he’s experienced following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and throughout the long US election cycle: “The Brexistentialist dread that we are feeling is not an accident. The world is a chaotic, violent place that seems out of joint, confusing and fake. Our blind, simple-minded faith in the power of social media and the allegedly liberating force of the internet has produced a news cycle that cycles ever more bewilderingly out of control.”     

    Amanda Petrusich, the author of Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records, names the song that she thinks will best “soothe your election anxiety”: the Five Stairsteps’ “O-o-h Child.” When the song came out in 1970, “Americans were, much as they are now, trying to make sense of the desperate affairs of the day.”

    Michelle Tea

    Michelle Tea

    Sara Jaffe talks to Michelle Tea about her new book Black Wave and the difficulties of writing a novel that combines fiction and memoir. “I feel a lot of anxiety around that. Like, am I doing okay? Are these people real? Would this happen?” Tea said. “I didn’t realize until I did it a little bit more that you don’t necessarily need to ask yourself that question, that you can kind of play God and just go with, ‘It’s real because I’m saying it’s real.’’’

    Critic and novelist Tom LeClair writes at the Daily Beast that “the National Book Award has gone to hell.” LeClair details the problems with the award that he observed as a judge in 2005, including a lack of books from independent presses and judges with conflicting loyalties. Now, “in attempting to reach what the National Book Foundation calls ‘new communities’ of book buyers and to please its corporate sponsors,” LeClair writes, “the National Book Award for fiction . . . has turned toward commercialist and artisanal creations.” (He does, it turns out, have a few positive things to say about this year’s finalists, especially The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead.) The National Book Awards will be announced on November 15.

  • November 7, 2016

    A jury decided last Friday that Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the Rolling Stone reporter who wrote “A Rape on Campus,” defamed University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo with the article. Eramo is seeking $7.5 million in damages, which will be decided in arguments next week. Erik Wemple notes that there was already plenty of evidence against Erdely, from interviews she gave after the story was published to the Columbia Journalism School report on what went wrong. “The bias here,” Wemple writes, “was a reporter seeking the most explosive story possible and blowing through all the warning signs that it wasn’t true.

    ”The 2016 Kirkus Prize winners have been announced. C.E Morgan’s The Sport of Kings won for fiction, while nonfiction went to Susan Faludi’s In the Darkroom.

    y9rhhq32BuzzFeed books editor Isaac Fitzgerald has sold a young adult novel to Bloomsbury based on his essay, “Confessions Of A Former Former Fat Kid.” Fitzgerald will also be writing a picture book for children, which will tell “the story of a girl whose salty grandfather inspires voyages of imagination.”

    PEN America has issued a new report on the 2015 disappearances of five Hong Kong booksellers, all of whom were known for selling politically-sensitive books about mainland Chinese political figures. According to the analysis, the cross-border kidnappings have resulted in the closure of many bookstores and publishing houses, and reflect “a dangerous escalation of China’s tactics to silence dissidents even beyond its borders.”

    The Wall Street Journal refuses to endorse a presidential candidate. The editorial notes that the paper “hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate since 1928, and if we didn’t endorse Ronald Reagan we aren’t about to revive the practice for Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump.”

    Politico explains why, regardless of election results, you shouldn’t expect a Trump TV any time soon.

    The Onion is ready for campaigning to be over. Managing editor Ben Berkley said that this year in particular has been more difficult to satirize than previous elections. “It’s hard to turn up the volume when the speaker is already blown out and everyone’s ears are already bleeding,” Berkley said.

  • November 4, 2016

    Aisha K. Finch

    Aisha K. Finch

    Aisha K. Finch’s book, Rethinking Slave Rebellion in Cuba, has won the New York Public Library’s first Harriet Tubman Prize, which will be awarded next month at the Schomburg Center in Harlem.

    A newly-discovered poem by Anne Frank will be up for auction later this month. Auctioneers expect that the twelve-line poem will sell for up to $55,000 due to the scarcity of handwritten work by Frank.

    The Times talks to Bronx residents affected by the closing of Barnes & Noble, the last general interest bookstore in the borough. For some, the store served as an after-school destination for their kids, for others it was study space. One resident noted that even as developers have started eyeing waterfront properties for new construction, the general view of the Bronx hasn’t changed: “There is a preconceived concept that folks that live in the Bronx, they’re not interested in reading,” Bronx resident Claudette Mobley told the paper. “We are just as interested in knowledge and reading as anybody else. We just don’t have the access to the things that the rest of New Yorkers do.”

    The Wall Street Journal surveys the book deals that are likely to come from both the current election cycle and the end of President Obama’s second term. Although possible books are in the works from various members of the administration—including Joe Biden, Janet Napolitano, and Eric Holder—“all eyes are on the president and first lady.”

    The New York Times will open its paywall for the upcoming presidential election, starting on November 7 and ending on November 9.

    Bloomberg Businessweek takes a long look at Tronc owner Michael Ferro, who is something of an enigma when it comes to media conglomerate owners. “He’s not as despised as Sam Zell, the real estate magnate and ex-owner of Tribune, and certainly not as respected as Jeff Bezos, the Amazon.com founder and Washington Post owner,” Felix Gillette and Gerry Smith write. “The consensus seems to be that Ferro is ridiculous—a model-train-loving, celebrity-obsessed, self-described technologist who’s semi-fluent in Silicon Valley disrupter-speak.”

  • November 3, 2016

    Nick Denton

    Nick Denton

    Nick Denton confirmed yesterday that the court case that bankrupted Gawker Media has been settled—wrestler Hulk Hogan will receive $31 million. Additionally, in what Denton calls “the most unpalatable part of the deal,” three articles—about Hogan; a dispute over the invention of email; and the founders of dating app Tinder—will be deleted. Although the defendants were confident that the court’s original award of $140 million would be lowered significantly in the appeals process, Denton writes that the legal battle was too costly to continue, both financially and professionally. “The other protagonists — including Hulk Hogan and A.J. Daulerio, the author of the Gawker story about him — had much more at stake. That motivated a settlement that allows us all to move on, and focus on activities more productive than endless litigation. Life is short, for most of us.”

    The Wall Street Journal will release a new, consolidated version of the paper November 14. Besides reducing arts and culture coverage, the Journal will also combine the Business & Tech section with Money & Investing, and debut a new Life & Arts section.

    A recently-noticed change to pricing at Amazon’s physical bookstores has some speculating that higher prices may soon come to books on the website, at least for those who aren’t Prime members. Geekwire reports that Amazon’s Seattle bookstore sells books for the discounted price to Prime members, while charging list price to customers who haven’t joined the service.

    At the New York Times, Jim Rutenberg wonders if interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile’s recent resignation from CNN over information found in leaked emails will end the practice of hiring political operatives on network news shows. Rutenberg asks if it’s possible for political aides-turned-television personalities—like George Stephanopoulos and Corey Lewandowski—to separate their party loyalties from their journalistic ethics. “Even if CNN could stipulate those kinds of obligations in its contracts,” he writes, “there would be no way for it to know if the wolf it has invited into its henhouse was going to abide by them.”

    OR Books will publish a collection of Hillary Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches next January. Hillary Clinton: The Goldman Sachs Speeches will be comprised of the leaked transcripts of the Democratic candidate’s paid appearances, which OR Books co-publisher said are being printed without permission under the fair use doctrine. 

    Tonight at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, Eimear McBride reads from her new book, The Lesser Bohemians.

  • November 2, 2016

    Gannett has abandoned its bid to buy Tronc after the company was unable to secure outside financing for the purchase. The decision was made after Gannett’s quarterly earnings were announced, which showed “print advertising plummeting” and “raised concerns that the newspaper industry might be facing steeper challenges than previously thought.”

    The New York Times’s Radhika Jones has been named editorial director of the books section. Pamela Paul, the recently-appointed editor of the Times Book Review said that Jones “is not only a highly skilled editor and writer—she is a true book person.”

    Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark

    Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark

    British journalists Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy have signed with Bloomsbury to write a book on Osama bin Laden, using first-person accounts from family members and Al Qaeda associates. The Exile: The Explosive Inside Story of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Flight will be published next May.

    The manuscripts and letters of Alexander Hamilton will be up for auction at Sotheby’s next January. The archive, which also includes a lock of the Founding Father’s hair, has been held by the Hamilton family for the last two centuries, and is expected to sell for over $2 million.

    Radio and television host Charlamagne Tha God will be writing a self-help book with Touchstone. Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It will be published next Spring.

    Dwight Garner reviews performance artist Marina Abramovic’s new memoir, Walk Through Walls. “I knew I was going to dislike Ms. Abramovic’s memoir on Page 10,” he writes.

    The Los Angeles Times reports on a panel last week featuring Eileen Myles and Transparent creator Jill Soloway. The discussion was about queer representation in literature and on TV, but the LA Times was more taken by the women’s announcement that they are no longer dating. Soloway told the audience that the media attention to the relationship—Myles was mentioned in a New Yorker profile of Soloway, and called “the poet muse of Transparent” in the New York Times—made it complicated: “[Just] as we could see our relationship. . . coming out . . . it was also coming to an end.”

    Tonight at Albertine, Jelani Cobb, Pap Ndiaye, Benjamin Stora, and Ta-Nehisi Coates open the Albertine Festival by asking: “When Will France Have its Barack Obama?”

  • November 1, 2016

    Peter Thiel spoke to the National Press Club in Washington, DC, about his role in Gawker Media’s bankruptcy. Thiel blamed Gawker for their editorial choices, calling the website a “singularly sociopathic bully.” He also noted that Hulk Hogan would not have been able to pursue his case against Gawker without Thiel’s financial backing: “If you’re a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan, you have no effective access to our legal system. It costs too much.”

    Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP chapter president who resigned after it was revealed that she had been lying about her race, has released the title and cover of her upcoming memoir. In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World will be released next March.

    Marlon James. Photo: Jeffrey Skemp

    Marlon James. Photo: Jeffrey Skemp

    Marlon James, author of the 2015 Man Booker-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings, opens his Minneapolis loft to the New York Times Style section. James points to his TV-less living room as his favorite in the apartment, “filled with art, books, photographs, records and plants.” James says the clutter is intentional, and that sparsely decorated rooms make him uncomfortable: “It’s like going into a house with no books. I find it profoundly upsetting.”

    Rupi Kaur, the poet whose self-published collection milk and honey sold over a million copies, has signed a two-book deal with Andrews McMeel Publishing. Her currently untitled poetry book will be available next fall.

    Vanity Fair reports that the anticipated bidding war over Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly has yet to materialize. Although the network has reportedly offered $20 million to Kelly, other TV news networks aren’t interested in spending that kind of cash. “I don’t believe anyone is pursuing her other than Fox at this point,” an unnamed ABC employee said.

    The Boston Globe will be partnering with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation to hire a ten-month classical music critic for the paper. Zoë Madonna, winner of the 2014 Rubin Prize in Music Criticism, will be taking over the position.

  • October 31, 2016

    Bob Dylan has finally responded to his Nobel Prize win, but has not yet committed to attending the award ceremony. In an interview with The Telegraph, the songwriter said he’ll receive his prize in person “if it’s at all possible.”

    The Turkish government shut down fifteen news organizations this weekend, continuing its crackdown on independent media after a failed coup last summer.

    In testimony last Friday, founder and owner of Rolling Stone Jann Wenner said that he still stands by most of the now-retracted “A Rape on Campus” article, and blamed “Jackie” for the controversy over the story, saying “there was nothing a journalist could do ‘if someone is really determined to commit a fraud.’” Wenner also apologized to plaintiff Nicole Aramo, the University of Virginia administrator who is suing over her portrayal in the article: “I’m very, very sorry. . . . Believe me, I’ve suffered as much as you have.”

    After seventeen years in the borough, Barnes & Noble will close this year, leaving the Bronx with no bookstores. Andrew Boryga, who grew up in Bedford Park, reminisces about his family’s weekly outings to the store

    John Berger

    John Berger

    when he was young: “I was already beginning to take the idea of becoming a writer seriously, and Barnes & Noble was one of the few places where I could find peace and quiet among kids who looked like me, spoke like me, and enjoyed reading like me.” Boryga hopes that the bookstore’s closure will inspire independent booksellers to open shops in the area.

    The Rumpus talks to J. D. Vance, whose book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis examines the declining steel-working community of Middletown, Ohio.

    On the eve of his ninetieth birthday, John Berger talks with the Guardian: “If I am a storyteller it’s because I listen.”

  • October 28, 2016

    The American Library Association has announced the Andrew Carnegie Medals shortlist. Finalists include Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, and Michael Chabon’s Moonglow for fiction, and Patricia Bell-Scott’s The Firebrand and the First Lady, Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, and Patrick Phillips’s Blood at the Root for non-fiction. Winners will be announced in January.

    After buyouts and layoffs last summer, Politico reports that The Guardian is still struggling. The paper had “£48 million in negative cashflow” in the beginning of the last financial year, and despite reassurances from management and attempts to increase memberships, employees aren’t optimistic about the paper’s future. As one journalist put it, “We know that the trajectory is you just eventually run out of money.”

    Lincoln Michel, the author of Upright Beasts, has come up with a list of books to read after you’ve finished watching the TV series Black Mirror.

    Three computer science researchers told BuzzFeed that Facebook’s decision to fire its Trending editors team “made an already big challenge even more difficult” by putting fact checking in the hands of robots. Assistant professor Kate Starbird, said that the company’s reliance on algorithms is based on “an assumption that we’re more comfortable with a machine being biased than with a human being biased, because people don’t understand machines as well.”

    Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about the upcoming Albertine Festival, which he is curating. The program this year takes a cue from James Baldwin by using an excerpt from No Name in the Street in its promotional materials and focusing on issues of race and identity. But when asked about whether he spent his time in Paris visiting historical Baldwin haunts, Coates said, “I really didn’t. . . . The last thing I wanted to do was look like some poseur.”

    At BookRiot, Jessica Woodbury wonders if the Man Booker Prize is bucking the trend and becoming more relevant with time, rather than less. Woodbury writes that 2016 winner The Sellout, “a biting and gutsy satire about race that will make you raise your eyebrows,” doesn’t fit with her impression of the Man Booker Prize, which seemed to be “mostly about historical novels involving mostly-British tumult or middle-aged meditations on life written in thick prose.”

    Mysterious Press owner Otto Penzler says that although he owns an e-book publishing company, he doesn’t “possess a reading thingumajig.” Penzler also admits to owning “virtually all the books written by Ayn Rand.”

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