• August 14, 2018

    V.S. Naipaul

    The tributes to and remembrances of V.S. Naipaul—who died this weekend at the age of eighty-five—continue to pour in: At the New York Times, novelist Aatish Taseer remembers his friend as both cruel and tender; at the New Yorker, George Packer recalls reading Naipaul’s A Bend in the River while serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa, writing, “I came under the spell of his prose before I knew not to like him”; at the New York Review of Books Daily, Ian Buruma remembers the author’s “fastidiousness,” arguing, “It is tempting to see Naipaul as a blimpish figure, aping the manners of British bigots; or as a fussy Brahmin, unwilling to eat from the same plates as lower castes. Both views miss the mark.” At Slate, Isaac Chotiner recommends the best books by and about Naipaul. From the Bookforum archives: Allen Barra reviews a 2009 biography of Naipaul and Thomas Meaney considers the author’s 2010 book, The Masque of Africa.

    A report on the troubles at Barnes and Noble, where founder Leonard Riggio is increasingly under fire.

    At the LARB, Robert Abele remembers food critic Jonathan Gold, who died last month at age fifty-seven.

    At the Columbia Journalism Review, Mathew Ingram parses a recent report in The Australian in which a Facebook executive, Campbell Brown, said that Mark Zuckerberg “doesn’t care” about traditional media publishing. Brown also reportedly said that if publishers didn’t work on new business models with the social media platform, “I’ll be holding your hand with your dying business, like in a hospice.” Facebook quickly denied that the quotes in the report were accurate, but Ingram writes that there is some truth to them: “The comments from Brown might have seemed like a veiled threat, but they could also have been just a statement of fact: If Facebook won’t provide the revenue or the traffic necessary for some outlets to survive, publishers might start going on life support.”

    Tonight at The Strand, MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer will discuss his new book, The Hard Stuff.

  • August 13, 2018

    V.S. Naipaul

    V.S. Naipaul—the Trinidad-born author who went on to become one of the most evocative portrayers of postcolonial life, winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 2001—has died at age eighty-five. Amitava Kumar ponders Naipaul’s complicated legacy. At the New Republic, Jeet Heer remembers the “towering writer and deeply flawed man.”

    Stephen King inspired a “meme meltdown” when he asked his Twitter followers a question about Trump’s “space force.”

    Harper Design will publish a book by Justin Timberlake this October.

    At The Atlantic, Jesse Lichtenstein writes about “how poetry came to matter again.” Today’s poets “are immigrants and refugees from China, El Salvador, Haiti, Iran, Jamaica, Korea, Vietnam. They are black men and an Oglala Sioux woman. They are queer as well as straight and choose their personal pronouns with care. The face of poetry in the United States looks very different today than it did even a decade ago, and far more like the demographics of Millennial America.”

    Rodale publishing has recalled Tales from a Forager’s Kitchen, a cookbook by Instagram star Johnna Holmgren that was released in May. Some of the recipes—which include ingredients such as raw morel mushrooms, elderberries, uncooked rice, and acorns—may be dangerous, the publisher says. Full refunds are being offered to anyone who has purchased the book.  

    Isaac Fitzgerald has announced that his first essay collection, Dirtbag, Massachusetts, has been purchased by Bloomsbury. “DIRTBAG, MASSACHUSETTS is going to be a deeply personal book,” writes Fitzgerald, who has worked at The Rumpus and is a cofounder of Buzzfeed Books. “These stories are my life. But I’m also hoping they’ll mean something to a wider audience, especially with young, angry men who are looking for a different path. The more you get out from under toxic masculinity, the better your life becomes. I know that because I’ve lived it. And try to continue to live it every day.”

  • August 10, 2018

    At the Los Angeles Review of Books blog, Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick examines how socioeconomic status drives the characters of Gillian Flynn’s books. “Whether filthy rich or debt-ridden, her characters are motivated by an original sin tied to an economic woe, particularly one that has shifted their life to or from success,” he writes. “The results? Persons so crazed by money that they kill.”

    Olga Tokarczuk

    The New York Times’s Tobias Grey profiles Olga Tokarczuk, whose novel Flights won the Man Booker International Prize in May for its English translation by Jennifer Croft.  

    Times op-ed columnist Bret Stephens attempts to welcome Sarah Jeong to the paper by explaining why he stands by his new colleague despite her tweets, which he criticizes not for their supposed racism but for “their often snarky tone, occasional meanness, and sheer number.” “The person you are drunk or stoned is not the person you are — at least not the whole person,” he writes. “Neither is the person you are the one who’s on Twitter.”

    “In grade school, for some sort of school-wide assignment, I wrote a story about a girl who turned into a swan,” R.O. Kwon says about the first time she understood the powerful effects of writing. “What I remember most vividly, besides the joy of writing the story, is that the school librarian read it and after she looked a little bit afraid. There’s something about seeing the power that words can have that really stuck with me.”

    Tonight Metrograph cinema will be screening Sunset Boulevard ahead of this weekend’s film book fair.  

  • August 9, 2018

    ProPublica is expanding its Local Reporting Network to include investigative reporting on government and politics at the state level. The grant will cover the salary and benefits for reporters at seven news outlets.

    Kate Lewis is replacing Joanna Coles as Hearst’s chief content officer.

    Crystal Hana Kim

    At Hazlitt, Nicole Chung talks to Crystal Hana Kim about inherited trauma, storytelling, and Korean identity in her new book, If You Leave Me. Kim said she was surprised by some of her early readers’ perceptions of life during the Korean War. “Once I workshopped a chapter . . . one of the comments was: ‘I don’t know that a woman of this time would have these sexual desires,’” she remembered. “And I just remember thinking, ‘What?’ I wanted people to understand that women in these circumstances would have the same desires, the same wants, maybe some of the same ambivalence about becoming a mother that many women today experience.”

    At The Atlantic, Todd S. Purdum writes about the dangers of performative journalism. Discussing Jim Acosta’s combative relationship with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Purdum writes: “Whenever a reporter who has not been kidnapped by terrorists, shot by an assailant, or won a big prize becomes an actor in her own story, she has lost the fight. Or in this case, reinforced the corrosive, cynical, and deeply dangerous feedback loop that has convinced Trump’s most fervent supporters that his relentless brief against the press has merit.”

    This weekend, Metrograph cinema will be hosting a film book fair. Vendors will be selling film-related memorabilia, magazines, scripts, ephemera, monographs, and more. The theater will also host screenings all weekend, including a showing of Reds presented by critic Darryl Pinckney, two Roald Dahl movies (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and You Only Live Twice, a James Bond movie for which Dahl wrote the screenplay), and Sunset Boulevard.  

  • August 8, 2018

    The Guardian has tallied the votes for its Not the Booker shortlist. Nominees include Rebecca Ley’s Sweet Fruit, Sour Land, Naomi Booth’s Sealed, Ariel Kahn’s Raising Sparks, Will Dean’s Dark Pines, and Dervla McTiernan’s The Ruin. A sixth nominee will be announced next week.

    Apple has bought the series rights to Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko. Soo Hugh has signed on to write and produce the adaptation.

    Catherine Lacey. Photo: Willy Somma

    Catherine Lacey talks to Hazlitt about Lydia Davis, turning real people into characters, and her new short story collection Certain American States. “There’s this interaction between any writer’s life and what they’re writing about. In the past, I’ve felt extremely nervous about what this or that person thinks of this or that character, if something shows up in my fiction that looks a lot like my life or that person,” Lacey said. “I’ve been worried about hurting someone’s feelings—or, in writing a story, sometimes I realize that I don’t care anymore.”

    At Folio, Cable Neuhaus reflects on Radhika Jones’s Vanity Fair, which has adopted a more modest and subdued style.

    Tonight at Books are Magic, Laura Van Den Berg presents her new book, The Third Hotel.

  • August 7, 2018

    Joanna Coles

    Hearst Chief Content Officer Joanna Coles is leaving the company. “Have you any idea of the miles I have walked on this treadmill desk through the peaks and the valleys of Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and as Hearst’s first chief content officer?” the former Cosmopolitan editor said in a goodbye video on Twitter. “But my route is being recalculated. It’s time for a new adventure.”

    BuzzFeed News looks into the right-wing conspiracy theorists of QAnon and speculates that the idea may have been created as a leftist prank based on the Italian novel Q.

    The Washington Post is publishing a book on “Russian interference in the 2016 election and the subsequent political, legal and diplomatic fallout.” Published in October by Custom House, The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and The Subversion of American Democracy will incorporate the work of several of the paper’s reporters, including national security correspondent Greg Miller.

    At the New York Times, Grace Shulman criticises The Nation’s recent apology for publishing Anders Carlson-Wee’s poem, “How To.” Shulman, who worked as the magazine’s poetry editor from 1971 to 2006, accuses the current poetry editors, Stephanie Burt and Carmen Giménez Smith, of “abandoning [the] storied tradition” of presenting challenging and provoking work and defending “writers’ right to be wrong.” As an example, Shulman offers a late-’80s Gore Vidal column that “some people deemed anti-Semitic,” which the then editor-in-chief, Victor Navasky, defended at the risk of losing the magazine’s participation in a poetry contest at the 92nd Street Y. Shulman observes, “How far we have come from those idealistic, courageous days.”

    At Litery Hub, Daniel Crown writes about Victor Klemperer, the scholar and Nazi-era diarist. Crown argues that Klemperer’s memoirs, which cover the years 1933–45 and were first translated into English in the 1990s, are becoming newly relevant as a first-hand look at how a democracy can break down.

    Tonight at Books are Magic, R. O. Kwon discusses her new novel, The Incendiaries.

  • August 6, 2018

    Jill Soloway Topple

    Jill Soloway

    Jill Soloway’s new, Amazon-backed imprint, Topple—which will publish books by women of color and writers who identify as gay, queer, bi, trans, and gender nonconforming—has acquired its first two books: LGBTQ advocate Precious Brady-Davis’s I Have Always Been Me and Lucille Scott’s An American Coven(ant). Brady-Davis’s memoir chronicles her “traumatic childhood of abandonment and neglect and her resilience as a biracial, Pentecostal, queer young person growing up in Omaha, Nebraska.” Scott’s book is, according to Amazon, a “queer-feminist pop history of how mystical traditions intersected with modern feminism in America.”

    In a new Publishers’ Weekly survey, one in five women who work in the publishing industry reported that they have been sexually harassed on the job.

    The Murmurr reading series has announced that Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts, will be the interviewer at the September 26 event featuring Karl Ove Knausgaard.

    Simon & Schuster editor Ira Silverberg says that Sam Lipsyte’s new novel, Hark, will be released in January.

    In the final week of July, the popularity of adult nonfiction titles helped result in a 2 percent increase in overall print sales.

    At the Paris Review, novelist and critic Lynne Tillman talks with artist Nell Painter about “truth with a capital T,” the “question of who determines value” in art, and coherence and ambiguity in fiction.

  • August 3, 2018

    Anna Wintour

    According to the New York Times, Conde Nast lost $120 million last year because of a sharp decline in print ad revenue. The company has tried to cut costs—including laying off eighty employees last year—but is still in the red. Conde Nast is said be selling the magazines Golf Digest, W, and Brides. The company’s chief executive, Robert A. Sauerberg Jr., is trying to quiet rumors that Vogue editor Anna Wintour wants to leave, saying Wintour “has agreed to work with me indefinitely in her role as editor in chief, Vogue, and artistic director of Condé Nast.”  

    A little-known Ernest Hemingway story, “A Room on the Garden Side,” is being published by The Strand this summer.   

    Sarah Jeong, the tech journalist who recently joined the New York Times editorial board, came under fire yesterday for some of her old tweets, which right-wing critics are calling “racist.” The Times released a statement in defense of Jeong, which also managed to chastise her: “Her journalism and the fact that she is a young Asian woman have made her a subject of frequent online harassment. . . . For a period of time she responded to that harassment by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers. . . . She understands that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable at The Times.” At the Verge, where Jeong has worked as a senior writer, the editorial team made a stronger defense of her, pointing out the dynamic at work: “Online trolls and harassers want us, the Times, and other newsrooms to waste our time by debating their malicious agenda. . . .  The strategy is to divide and conquer by forcing newsrooms to disavow their colleagues one at a time. This is not a good-faith conversation; it’s intimidation.”

    Yesterday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to disavow president Trump’s remarks that the press is “the enemy of the people,” a phrase with a loaded history. Meanwhile, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a former Trump administration staffer, claims in her new book that she has noticed an undeniable “mental decline” in her former boss.

    Is it any wonder that sales of books about anxiety are soaring?

  • August 2, 2018

    The 92nd Street Y has announced the lineup for its upcoming season of readings and talks. The schedule includes appearances by Gary Shteyngart, Jonathan Franzen, and Karl Ove Knausgaard, among others. Kate Atkinson will start the season on September 25 with a talk on her upcoming book, Transcription.

    Sarah Jeong. Photo: James Bareham

    Sarah Jeong is joining the New York Times as the editorial board’s lead technology writer. Currently a senior writer at The Verge, Jeong is also the author of The Internet of Garbage. “Sarah has guided readers through the digital world with verve and erudition, staying ahead of every turn on the vast beat that is the internet,” the Times said in a statement.

    According to leaked documents obtained by The Intercept, “Google is planning to launch censored version of its search engine in China that will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest.”

    Amitava Kumar talks to Poets & Writers about underrated authors, desert island books, and the feeling of being published. “I have been writing and publishing for such a long time that it’s difficult to remember,” Kumar said of his first published work. “In terms of my career, to be honest, I felt I had really published when I got into the pages of Granta. Why? Because it had been a dream for so long.”

    The poetry editors of The Nation have apologized after publishing a poem by a white man “seemingly written in the voice of a homeless person begging for handouts” that was criticized online over its “attempt at black vernacular,” among other issues.

  • August 1, 2018

    Clifford J. Levy. Photo: James Hill

    The New York Times has chosen Clifford J. Levy as its next metro editor. Levy was most recently the paper’s deputy managing editor, and had been heavily involved in the Times’s digital expansion. “The position will take him off the print masthead, but it may offer a more positive long-term outcome,” Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo explains. “In fact, according to Times sources familiar with the process, the move was pitched to Levy as an important gesture, and one that would make him a stronger candidate for executive editor when the time comes.”

    The Washington Post profiles A.G. Sulzberger. The thirty-eight-year-old Times publisher, they write, “sits in direct contrast to the president of the United States: demure, private, vegetarian, self-effacing, and reliant on proving himself through hard work rather than trading on his famous surname.”

    Facebook has found another coordinated campaign to influence US politics ahead of the midterm elections, the New York Times reports. FiveThirtyEight has compiled an archive of three million tweets linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency.

    The Cut’s Anna Silman reflects on Stephen Colbert’s decision to speak out against Les Moonves on CBS. “For so long, women have faced devastating consequences — to their careers, to their personal safety — as a result of speaking out about abusive men,” she writes. “It’s encouraging to see men speaking out as well, especially those who have a little bit of their own skin in the game.”

    Ian Allen explores the disturbing world of white supremacist science fiction.

    Book cover designers Charlotte Strick and Claire Williams Martinez discuss their work on the covers for Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy.

    Vulture is working with cable channel TruTV to develop an unscripted weekly show to highlight pop culture events of the past week. “Two hosts will hand out awards to the people, places, and things everyone can’t stop talking about,” the website explained in a statement. “Each episode will include the show’s version of all the awards show traditions you know and love (or love to be annoyed by), be it a big opening number, speeches from the given academy’s president, or ‘In Memoriam’ packages.”

     

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