• January 25, 2018

    Deb Olin Unferth

    Editorial staff at Slate has voted to unionize with the Writers Guild of America–East. “This process . . . has given us a greater sense of appreciation for each other and our work,” union organizers wrote in a statement. “We feel confident that we can create a contract with input from all our colleagues that will improve standards, offer necessary protections within our volatile industry, and preserve the aspects of the workplace we love.”

    James Harding, former head of BBC News, is starting his own media company. Tortoise will focus on “slow news,” which Harding defines as “news with more depth—data, investigations, analysis, expertise—to help us explain the world we’re living in.”

    David Shaftel visits the Hyman Archive in London, home to the world’s largest magazine collection.

    Entertainment Weekly offers a guide to the best of Ursula K. Le Guin’s novels. At the New York Times, Naomi Novik mourns Le Guin in the form of a poem.

    “When I first started writing, I didn’t find my stories funny, but people kept saying they were,” Deb Olin Unferth tells The Rumpus. “It kind of worried me; these are some pretty disturbing and sad pieces. Why do people think they’re funny? Then I decided I like that mode. . . . I like being funny and sad at the same time, or funny and disturbing at the same time. It’s my natural voice.”


  • January 24, 2018

    Ursula K. Le Guin

    Novelist Ursula K. Le Guin has died at the age of 88. Over the course of her career, Le Guin wrote over twenty novels, as well as numerous collections of poetry, short stories, and essays.

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has announced the editors of the 2018 Best American Series. Roxane Gay will work on the short story edition, Cheryl Strayed will take on travel writing, and Hilton Als will edit the essays. Ruth Reichl will oversee the series’s inaugural collection of food writing.

    A collection of Sylvia Plath’s belongings, including a typewritten copy of The Bell Jar, is being put up for auction by her daughter, Frieda Hughes.

    Infowars’s Alex Jones is working on a book with The Game author Neil Strauss. CNN’s Oliver Darcy reports that the pair have been shopping around a proposal for The Secret History of the Modern World & the War for the Future. “It’s not clear whether any publishers will actually want to acquire the book,” Darcy notes, “as any company that would choose to publish the book would likely face an immense backlash because of the number of inflammatory claims and comments Jones has made over the years.”

    Inspired by Elena Ferrante’s new column for The Guardian, Literary Hub’s Emily Temple comes up with a list of authors she wishes would become columnists. Maggie Nelson is “bursting with thought and radical feeling, so she’d have no trouble delighting each week,” while Claudia Rankine, Temple writes, “doesn’t take any shit, which is one of my favorite qualities in columnists, and people in general.”

  • January 23, 2018

    Carmen Maria Machado. Photo: Tom Storm

    The finalists for the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Awards and the winners of the John Leonard Prize and the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award have been announced. John McPhee has won the Lifetime Achievement Award, while Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties has won the John Leonard Prize. Award nominees include Masha Gessen’s The Future is History, Edmund Gordon’s The Invention of Angela Carter, Kevin Young’s Bunk, and Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing. Winners will be announced in March.

    The New York Times reports that Gui Minhai, the Hong Kong book publisher who was abducted from Thailand by the Chinese government in 2015, “has disappeared again in dramatic fashion—snatched from a train bound for Beijing under the eyes of two Swedish diplomats.”

    Amy Chozick is writing a memoir about Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns. Chasing Hillary “explores how [Chozick] came of age, aging out of her 20s and into her 30s, while covering Clinton, and what that kind of intertwined experience of growth revealed to her about Clinton—and about herself.” The book will be published by Harper in April.

    Former Washington Post journalist and current Fox News host Howard Kurtz is working on a book about the Trump administration. Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War Over the Truth will be published by Regnery at the end of January. The Post’s Aaron Blake writes that Kurtz’s book could be “even more damning” than Fire and Fury. Excerpts from the book describe “a president who is acting haphazardly and without the guidance of his aides, making major allegations and policy decisions on whims,” Blake writes. “And the fact that it’s how Trump is described by an oft-sympathetic Fox News host makes it ring even truer.”

    Jhumpa Lahiri talks to the New Yorker about translation, immigration, and the similarities between her two homes: the US and Italy. “It really strikes me that the two countries I now shuttle between and consider home are places where xenophobia still thrives,” she said.

  • January 22, 2018

    In her new weekly column, Elena Ferrante recounts the first time she fell in love.

    Teju Cole

    Teju Cole

    On the occasion of her new essay collection, Feel Free, Zadie Smith fields questions from a number of people, including London mayor Sadiq Khan, cartoonist Chris Ware, Tate museum director Maria Balshaw, and authors Nikesh Shukla, Philip Pullman, and Matt Haig. As she tells Teju Cole: “I don’t think of myself as a contrarian. I’m useless at confrontation. But I also can’t stand dogma, lazy ideas, catchphrases, group-think, illogic, pathos disguised as logos, shoutiness, ad hominem attacks, bombast, liberal piety, conservative pomposity, ideologues, essentialists, technocrats, preachers, fanatics, cheerleaders or bullies. Like everybody, I am often guilty of some version of all of the above, but I do think the job of writing is to at least try and minimise that sort of thing as much as you can.”

    If sales forecasts for Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury turn out to be accurate, it should outsell Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal.

    At Publishers Weekly, Michele Filgate points out why Meg Wolitzer’s forthcoming novel The Female Persuasion is so of this moment: The novel “couldn’t be more timely, as the #MeToo movement calls out men who have abused their power and privilege to take advantage of women, whose accounts of mistreatment have been diminished or disbelieved.”  

    The New York Times has a profile of former book editor Daniel Mallory, whose novel The Woman in the Window debuted last week at No. 1 on the Times bestseller list. (The author already has a record-breaking deal with thirty-seven international publishers.) Mallory wrote the book, a thriller inspired in part by the films of Hitchcock, under the pseudonym A.J. Finn. The book was bought by William Morrow, where Mallory once worked, but acquiring editor Jennifer Brehl read the manuscript having no idea who it’s author really was: “I had no idea that [Mallory] was writing a book,” Brehl says.

    On February 6, George Saunders will be in conversation with Dana Spiotta at Brooklyn’s Murmrr Theater. Tickets are on sale here.

  • January 19, 2018

    Elena Ferrante has signed on to write a weekly column for The Guardian’s magazine. Ferrante’s column, translated by Ann Goldstein, “will share her thoughts on a wide range of topics, including childhood, ageing, gender and, in her debut article, first love.” The first installment will appear this weekend in the redesigned magazine.

    Leni Zumas. Photo: Sophia Shalmiyev

    At Literary Hub, Maddie Crum talks to Red Clocks author Leni Zumas about what happens “when your feminist dystopia becomes a work of realism.”

    Former President Jimmy Carter is working on a book about “faith, its far-reaching effect on our lives, and its relationship to past, present, and future events in American and around the world.” Faith: A Journey for All will be published by Simon & Schuster this March.

    This year, Harper Collins’s audio division will release a selection of audiobooks on vinyl.

    The Atlantic has hired Business Insider’s Natasha Bertrand as a politics staff writer.

    HuffPost is “immediately dissolving its self-publishing contributors platform.” The unpaid section of the site, which has 100,000 writers, will be replaced by opinion and personal writing by paid contributors. Editor Lydia Polgreen explained that the change came from a “desire to focus on quality reporting and minimize unvetted stories.” “Certainly the environment where fake news is flourishing is one where it gets harder and harder to support the idea of a ‘let a thousand flowers bloom’ kind of publishing platform,” she said.

  • January 18, 2018

    Endeavor Content has bought the film and television rights to Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. Wolff has signed on as an executive producer, and the Hollywood Reporter writes that “the massive deal is said to be in the seven-figure range.” The New York Times notes that, after Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s HBO project on the 2016 campaign was cancelled in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations, the adaptation “could be the first major dramatic portrayal of the Trump White House.”

    Katy Waldman

    Lupita Nyong’o is writing a children’s book. Sulwe will be published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in January 2019.

    Slate’s Katy Waldman is moving to the New Yorker. Waldman will continue writing about books and contribute “regular essays on culture, language, and the politics of language” to the magazine’s website.

    Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post correspondent who was held by the Iranian government for a year and a half, is returning to the paper’s WorldViews section as a staff writer.

    Former writers and editors of The Hairpin and The Awl mourn the soon-to-close websites and remember their favorite articles. “The things those sites published made me want to be smarter and cooler and better,” The Intercept’s Sam Biddle writes. “I’m none of those things now, but it definitely made me want to keep trying. Oh, well. At least we still have the Skimm.” Splinter’s Brendan O’Connor recalls the best advice he received from The Awl’s editors, including “Keep it frothy!” and “Blogging is for suckers.”

  • January 17, 2018

    “With a mixture of disappointment and relief,” The Awl announces that they will be discontinuing editorial operations at the end of January. The Hairpin will also close at the end of the month. “We’re intensely proud of what we managed to accomplish over the years,” the site’s staff write, “and while most of the credit goes to an astoundingly talented team of writers and editors, the greatest achievement any site can claim is in the quality and fervor of its audience, and on that score we feel like we were the most successful organization ever.”

    Philip Roth

    Philip Roth

    The Wire director David Simon is working on a miniseries based on Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America. The six-episode show was announced in a New York Times interview with Roth, where he also explained the difference between his novel and our current political situation. “Charles Lindbergh, in life as in my novel, may have been a genuine racist and an anti-Semite and a white supremacist sympathetic to Fascism, but he was also—because of the extraordinary feat of his solo trans-Atlantic flight at the age of 25—an authentic American hero,” he explained. “Trump, by comparison, is a massive fraud, the evil sum of his deficiencies, devoid of everything but the hollow ideology of a megalomaniac.”

    PBS will air a five-part series on sexual harassment next month. #MeToo, Now What? Will be hosted by Zainab Salbi.

    At Slate, the founders of “DoubleX” discuss the vertical’s beginnings, closure, and the poor name choice. “We thought we were choosing something incredibly straightforward,” Emily Bazelon recalls, “which of course in retrospect seems like it left out a lot of people who decided to transition to becoming female and don’t have two X chromosomes.” Slate editor in chief Julia Turner remembers that it “was a little bit difficult from a business perspective to sell because the two X’s made some people think it was a porn site.”

    Tonight, the Strand hosts a tribute to Denis Johnson in honor of his posthumously released short story collection, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden.

  • January 16, 2018

    Ocean Vuong. Photo: Peter Bienkowski

    Tom Bower is working on a new book about Prince Charles. Rebel Prince: The Power, Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles will explore the monarch’s “‘desperate bid to rehabilitate himself’ after Princess Diana’s death,” The Bookseller reports. Rebel Prince will be published in the UK next March; the book does not yet have a US publication date.

    Ocean Vuong has won the TS Eliot prize for his debut poetry collection, Night Sky With Exit Wounds.

    Nieman Lab reports that Los Angeles Times editor Lewis D’Vorkin is hiring journalists away from the Washington Post, the New York Times, and elsewhere as the paper begins a newsroom reorganization.

    Lizzie Crocker has resigned from her job at the Daily Beast after she plagiarized a piece about Katie Roiphe from the Weekly Standard. An investigation conducted by the website found no other issues with Crocker’s past work. On Twitter, Thomas Chatterton Williams speculated that Crocker felt comfortable borrowing from the article because “she could safely assume few readers look across ideological lines. . . . The irony is that the same exact piece can work in either venue!”

    Vulture’s David Marchese talks to NPR’s Terry Gross about Fresh Air, empathy, and what she’s learned about human nature over four decades of interviews. Gross discussed the feeling of finding out that previous interviewees have been accused of sexual misconduct. “What can I say? You think you have meaningful conversations with someone, then you find out they masturbated in front of women,” she said. “I always walk away from an interview — no matter how well it went — knowing that there’s so much that I don’t know about that person.”

  • January 15, 2018

    Novelist Stephen King will receive PEN’s American Literary Service Award. PEN president Andrew Solomon (Far from the Tree) says that King “has inspired us to stand up to sinister forces through his rich prose, his generous philanthropy and his outspoken defense of free expression.”

    Akil Sharma

    Akhil Sharma

    “It is generosity which reminds us that we are more than our problems.” In a short video airing at PBS, novelist Akhil Sharma (Family Life) reflects on what it means to belong, and on the importance of thinking about others.

    HBO has given a sneak peak at Ramin Bahrani’s new adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s dystopian classic Fahrenheit 451.  

    At Politico, Jack Shafer has this advice for A.G. Sulzberger: “Sell the New York Times. Now.

    Agnes Poirier considers the French publisher Gallimard’s plan to reprint Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s antisemitic pamphlets, which were originally published between 1937 and 1941 and have never been again printed in France. Poirier wonders if the decision to publish the writings by Céline (author of Journey to the End of the Night) has been primarily driven by the hope to make a  “quick profit.” A member of the French prime minister’s office has asked Gallimard to reissue the pamphlets “in the spirit of education, rather than in one of sensation.” Amid more heated protest, Gallimard announced last week that it was suspending its plans to publish the works.

  • January 12, 2018

    Peter Thiel, who funded Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker, has submitted a bid to buy the defunct website. Reuters writes that administrators and lawyers from Gawker’s bankruptcy plan “have tried to block Thiel’s bid,” but that even if they are successful, “Thiel could ask the judge to consider it if it is higher than rival offers.”

    Carrie Brownstein

    Carrie Brownstein is working on a show for Hulu based on her memoir, Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl. Search and Destroy follows “a young woman, a band, and a community learning how to be unafraid of their own noise.”

    Reporter Ronan Farrow has signed a three-year contract with HBO to “develop and front a series of investigative documentary specials.”

    Vox Media management have chosen to recognize their employee union.

    Mei Fong reflects on journalist Carrie Gracie’s resignation from the BBC over the outlet’s gender pay gap. Fong notes that the issue of gender pay discrimination is likely as bad or worse for female journalists abroad. “While there’s no accurate data comparing the numbers of male and female correspondents, it’s quite likely that the figures mirror or surpass those of general newsrooms, which are two-thirds male,” she writes. “Such imbalances are certainly reflected in journalism prizes, as Pulitzers for international reporting and even the Martha Gellhorn Prize—named for a female correspondent—go overwhelmingly to men.”

    At The Outline, Leah Finnegan details the many ways in which Harper’s “completely fucking blew it” in their reaction to criticism about a piece by Katie Roiphe that was said to name the creator of the Shitty Media Men list. “They first fucked themselves when they hired Roiphe to write this piece, and then fucked themselves harder in their response to the irate readers expressing concern over Roiphe’s intentions and Donegan’s welfare,” she writes. “For Harper’s, the publisher of which has been infamously grumpy about the internet, to haughtily dismiss out-of-hand the angry statements of hundreds of people as ‘voices from the bog,’ well, that basically tells you all you need to know.”