• April 20, 2018

    Jesmyn Ward

    Time has released its annual 100 Most Influential List. This year, each honoree’s blurb was written by another influential person—Barack Obama wrote about the Parkland students, Mindy Kaling wrote on Issa Rae, and Lee Daniels wrote about Jesmyn Ward. But, as GQ’s Jay Willis notes, “the brand of praise bestowed upon a given cultural luminary by a peer can reveal as much about the author as it does about their assigned subject,” particularly in the case of Donald Trump, who was written up by Ted Cruz. Cataloging the numerous insults and slights leveled against Cruz by Trump over the course of the 2016 presidential campaign, Willis writes that Cruz “is stuck in a strange limbo, leaning into petty humiliations like this one in the hopes that proximity to the Oval Office might feel half as good as being it it himself.”

    Former Harper’s Magazine editor James Marcus expands on his recent firing in an interview with the New York Times.

    Blumhouse Productions have bought the screen rights to William Brennan’s New York magazine article, “Worst Roommate Ever.” Brennan will be an executive producer on both the television and film projects based on the piece, which follows the story of Jamison Bachman, “a notorious serial squatter and the ultimate Craigslist nightmare.”

    Novelist and Go Home! editor Rowan Hisayo Buchanan talks to Tin House about being an Ace Hotel writer-in-residence, writing rituals, and her audience, both real and imagined.

    CNN’s Jake Tapper explains why publishing a novel is more nerve-wracking than being on TV every night. “People are either going to like this book or they’re going to hate this book, and it’s all me one way or the other,” he told the Times. “You write a story, you do a TV show, and if people don’t like it, well, you’re going to do it again tomorrow. This is years of work.”

  • April 19, 2018

    Parkland shooting survivors and siblings David Hogg and Lauren Hogg are writing a book with Random House. #NeverAgain, which includes a foreword by Parkland student Emma González, will detail the movement’s purpose and challenges as they attempt to convince lawmakers to enact new gun control legislation. #NeverAgain will be published in June.

    Jhumpa Lahiri

    The shortlist for the 2018 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction has been announced. Nominees include Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach, Patrick McGrath’s The Wardrobe Mistress, and Jane Harris’s Sugar Money. The winner will be announced in June.

    At the Paris Review, Dan Piepenbring talks to Jhumpa Lahiri about translating Domenico Starnone’s novels, Ties and Trick. Starnone is married to the woman rumored to be Elena Ferrante and many readers see similarities between Starnone’s Ties and Ferrante’s Days of Abandonment. But while Lahiri acknowledges some similarities, she doesn’t feel they are related. “I think this book has a completely different energy and a completely different force,” she said. “And to be honest with you, regardless of who Elena Ferrante is—and I admire her work very much—I feel that Ties is far more sophisticated, if you want to know the truth.”

    Entertainment Weekly’s David Canfield looks into whether or not Kanye West is actually writing a book.

    After fifteen years, The Hill has decided to discontinue its annual list of the 50 Most Beautiful in Washington. “In a city where mudslinging, smear campaigns and partisan bickering are part of the game, 50 Most Beautiful sought to offer a fun and good-looking respite from the political noise coming out of Capitol Hill,” columnist Judy Kurtz writes. “We’ll certainly miss our sunny celebration of delightful Democrats, ravishing Republicans and elegant everything-in-betweens.” People magazine has also decided to rename their “Most Beautiful” edition. “We’re renaming it “The Beautiful Issue” — to make clear that the issue is not a beauty contest,” editorial director Jess Cagle explained. “Nothing else has changed.”

    Tonight at the Heyman Center at Columbia University, n+1 founding editor Marco Roth, political theorist Lori Marso, and Deborah Nelson discuss Nelson’s new book, Tough Enough: Arbus, Arendt, Didion, McCarthy, Sontag, Weil.

  • April 18, 2018

    The majority of editorial staff at the New Republic have unionized with NewsGuild of New York. “We believe that unionizing is the best way to strengthen our workplace, not just for ourselves but for future generations of journalists,” said staff writer Sarah Jones. “By organizing, we’re simply affirming our commitment to The New Republic’s progressive values. We’re also affirming our commitment to each other.”

    Harper’s Magazine editor James Marcus was reportedly fired by publisher Rick MacArthur last week for “opposing the publication of Katie Roiphe’s cover story in the March issue.” Marcus told Publisher’s Lunch that although he had objected to the article, which was assigned by MacArthur, he continued to work on the piece with the rest of the staff. “I had hoped that despite our differences, Rick and I could agree to disagree and move on. He could not,” Marcus said. “When I was fired on Friday afternoon, it was clear that the dispute over Roiphe’s article was the main cause.”

    Alexander Chee

    The producers of the Broadway adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird have countersued the author’s estate, and “are offering to perform the play for a judge to prove it is faithful to the book after the estate claimed otherwise.”

    Nicole Kidman will adapt and star in a film version of Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion.

    Alexander Chee reflects on how writing helped him understand the complexity of Asian American life. “I like to feel anonymous, even hidden, when I write, as if I have to vanish as a way to welcome in whatever comes next. And to be safe from whatever might try to stop me,” he writes. “Other people’s mistaken perceptions of me have taught me a kind of dance, as if it were all a long game of jumping rope.”

    Malcolm Harris looks at the declining pay for freelance journalists and wonders what a reasonable pay system for writers would look like.

    CNN reports that “since January, each book at the top of the New York Times best-seller list has had one thing in common: President Trump.” Literary Hub rounds up reviews of the latest book to continue the trend: James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty.

    At Columbia Journalism Review, Gustavo Arellano goes inside the newsroom of LA Weekly and talks to the employees who have remained at the alt-weekly amid a boycott by former staff. Most of the remaining employees say that boycott is just one more event in “the paper’s tumultuous history.” Culture editor Lina Lecaro, who started as an intern at the paper in 1993, said, “I’ve been literally hearing ‘LA Weekly now sucks’ since I started at LA Weekly.”

  • April 17, 2018

    James Forman Jr.

    The 2018 Pulitzer Prize winners have been announced. The New York Times and the New Yorker share the Public Service prize for their reporting on Harvey Weinstein, while the Washington Post won the Investigative Reporting category for their coverage of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. Other winners include James Forman Jr.’s Locking Up Our Own, Frank Bidart’s Half-light, and Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN.

    Danez Smith has won the inaugural Four Quartets Prize.

    The Orchid Thief author Susan Orlean is working on a new book, Entertainment Weekly reports. The Library Book “reopens the case of the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire,” which destroyed over a million books, and weaves Orlean’s “life-long love of books and reading with the fascinating history of libraries and the sometimes-eccentric characters who run them . . . to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives.The Library Book will be published by Simon & Schuster in October.

    Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth are both being adapted into plays. The adaptation of ishiguro’s novel, set to premier early next year, is being produced by the Royal & Derngate Theater in Northampton, England, while Smith’s is being adapted by Kiln Theater in London and will debut in October.

    At the New York Times, Robert Draper profiles Dan Scavino and attempts to figure out just how involved the White House social media director is in crafting Trump’s tweets. Officials told Draper that Scavino’s involvement was limited to transcribing what Trump dictated to him, and occasionally correcting his spelling. But according to two witnesses, one from the campaign trail and another inside the White House, “Scavino frequently supplied the litany of details in Trump’s tweets about, say, claims of Crooked Hillary’s various malfeasances or of the F.B.I.’s corrupt activity. ‘Fifty percent of the time, Trump is ripping these out himself, and 50 percent is going to Scavino,’ one of them told me.”

    Tonight at Books are Magic in Brooklyn, Alexander Chee presents his new book of essays, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel.

  • April 16, 2018

    Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

    Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

    The PEN World Voices Festival opens tonight, with events featuring Colson Whitehead, Chelsea Manning, Leila Slimani, Dave Eggers, and others. The festival will take place all week, with panel discussions featuring Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Colm Toibin, Jenny Zhang, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Hillary Clinton, and many others.  

    Anticipating high book-buyer demands, Flatiron books has printed 850,000 copies of James Comey’s book A Higher Loyalty (the initial print run of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury was 150,000). As of Friday, the book (which is scheduled to be released on Tuesday) had already pre-sold 200,000 copies. Comey and Donald Trump are now in what the New York Times calls an “all-out war.” Comey writes in the book that “Donald Trump’s presidency threatens much of what is good in this nation.” Trump has said on Twitter that Comey’s book has “many lies,” and that “when someone attacks me, I always attack back . . . except 100x more.”

    USA Today names five books you should know about this week.

    Poet-essayist Melissa Broder, whose novel The Pisces is out in May, has made a poster for her reading tour.

    Mexican author and translator Sergio Pitol has died. His novels include Mephisto’s Waltz, and he translated many English and Polish authors—Jane Austen, Henry James and Joseph Conrad, Kazimierz Brandys, Witold Gombrowicz—into Spanish.

    Tayari Jones—author of the novel An American Marriage, which was selected by Oprah Winfrey for her book club—has been hired as a professor in the MFA program at Emory University.

  • April 13, 2018

    J. D. McClatchy. Photo: Geoff Spear

    At the New Yorker, Alexandra Schwartz remembers her time studying poetry under Yale Review editor J. D. McClatchy, who died earlier this week at the age of 72. Schwartz writes that McClatchy “was a towering, booming presence, commanding, elegant, initially fearsome, later endearing, witty, sharp, amused. He broke his favorite poems down for us, exposing their layers and devices, revealing to us his own admiration for their art.”

    The 2018 Man Booker International Prize shortlist has been announced. Nominees include previous winners Han Kang and Laszlo Krasznahorkai, as well as Virginie Despentes, Ahmed Saadawi, Olga Tokarczuk, and Antonio Muñoz Molina.

    Eileen Myles talks to Paul Holdengraber about David Bowie, book blurbs, and the hatred of poetry.

    In a Twitter thread, Call Your Girlfriend podcast host Aminatou Sow detailed her experience of being misquoted in CNN commentator Sally Kohn’s new book, The Opposite of Hate. The two discussed Kohn’s project in a shared Uber ride last summer, but Sow says that there was no understanding that she would be quoted.

    The Daily Beast reports on a ninety-minute meeting between Univision’s digital media head Sameer Deen and the editorial staff of Gizmodo Media Group, which was held after CEO Raju Narisetti announced his departure and a Wall Street Journal article reported that the company may face budget cuts of up to 35 percent. Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo writes that the discussion left staff “wondering which is the more attractive uncertainty: sticking it out with Univision and potentially being gutted, or possibly being sold to new overlords and facing down the unknown yet again.”

  • April 12, 2018

    Michelle Dean. Photo: John Midgely

    Michelle Dean talks to Hazlitt’s Anna Furman about the economics of being a writer, not using the first person, and white privilege in her new book, Sharp. Furman noted that, besides Zora Neale Hurston, all the women in Dean’s book were white. “The book is predicated on the idea that not only do these women sort of sound alike, but they also had concrete personal connections. Renata Adler was engaged to Mary McCarthy’s son; Nora Ephron met Dorothy Parker as a child,” Dean explained. “The problem with social segregation, and, frankly, intellectual segregation, is that I couldn’t make those connections exist where they didn’t exist. You know, racism poisons everything.”

    Staff of the Chicago Tribune are preparing to unionize, a move that NPR calls “a historic move at a paper that, for decades, had taken a hard-line stance against unions.” Although parent company Tronc recently sold the Los Angeles Times after that paper’s staff unionized, Chicago Tribune employees feel that their concerns outweigh their fear of potential consequences. “They have looted the company, and the Tronc executives have paid themselves outsized salaries,” home page editor Charlie Johnson said. “The motivation [for unionizing] was the idea that the newsroom would finally have a voice and say in how things operated.”

    On his return to the US from a vacation with his family, columnist Shaun King was detained at JFK Airport and questioned about his involvement with the Black Lives Matter movement. The Miami Herald’s Leonard Pitts Jr writes that “one is hard-pressed to explain what happened Monday as anything other than a clumsy attempt at political intimidation, the government’s unsubtle way of letting a critic know that Big Brother is watching.”

    Matthew Lacombe discusses his research on NRA editorials in American Rifleman magazine and how they’ve impacted gun owners’ views on gun laws.

    Splinter’s Hamilton Nolan proposes a radical idea for funding journalism: Take back the money that Facebook, Google, and other tech companies have made by siphoning away print-ad dollars and give it back to publications. “It has always blown my mind that big, successful tech companies do not directly fund journalism,” he writes. “It’s cheap, it’s good for the country, and it helps to perpetuate the demonstrably successful business model that has gotten the companies this far already.”

  • April 11, 2018

    Yesterday, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg testified before congress. As The Ringer writes, he’s very sorry for the company’s recent missteps and misdeeds, including the improper sharing of personal data with Cambridge Analytica. He’ll be back testifying today. The Atlantic points out the thirteen strangest moments from the first day of hearings, while at the New Yorker, Adrian Chen considers what was missing from Zuckerberg’s remarks: “Facebook’s business model and leadership structure are still there. The company is still, as Tim Wu recently pointed out in the Times, a machine for ‘maximizing the harvest of data and human attention.’”  

    Mark Zuckerberg

    HarperCollins has announced a new posthumous J. R. R. Tolkien book edited by the late author’s son, Christopher, to be published in August. The novel, The Fall of Gondolin, was written during World War I while Tolkien was recovering from fighting in the Battle of the Somme. John Garth, author of Tolkien and the Great War, describes the new work as  “a quest story with a reluctant hero who turns into a genuine hero—it’s a template for everything Tolkien wrote afterwards. . . . It has a dark lord, our first encounter with orcs and balrogs—it’s really Tolkien limbering up for what he would be doing later.”  

    Graywolf Press is offering the Citizen Literary fellowship to encourage diversity in the publishing industry. The position is a part-time paid gig with mentoring and coaching in both editorial and marketing. Applications are due by May 4th.

    The Millions has announced the longlist for the Best Translated Book Award in fiction and poetry.

    For National Library week, The Paris Review Daily has a paean to the “strange magic” of libraries. Stuart Kells, author of The Library, reflects on the transcendent happenstance of the stacks: “The history of libraries is rich with stories of chance encounters with priceless manuscripts, lost letters, rare editions, and scandalous memoirs. Less illustrious discoveries are part of the everyday experience of libraries. There is a magic, too, of creation.” 

    Cassell books will publish a book of Morrissey photos by Kevin Cummins titled, fittingly, Alone and Palely Loitering. The volume will be published in the US in October.  

  • April 10, 2018

    The family of Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin has filed a war crimes case against the Syrian government. The suit claims that in 2012, Colvin, alongside photographer Rémi Ochlik “was assassinated by government forces of the Syrian Arab Republic as she reported on the suffering of civilians.” The Intercept looks into the evidence submitted with the lawsuit, including a video of her final moments and “nearly 2,000 pages of documents” that “provide detailed and unprecedented evidence to support the claim that Colvin was deliberately hunted and killed as part of a policy by the Assad regime to eliminate journalists.”

    Lorrie Moore

    Malala Yousafzai’s father Ziauddin Yousafzai will publish a memoir with Little, Brown. What Love Teaches Me will be released next fall.

    Rights to Michelle McNamara’s true-crime book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, have been bought by HBO. The network plans to adapt the late author’s work into a docuseries.

    Three members of the Swedish Academy have resigned following sexual abuse allegations against Jean-Claude Arnault, “a cultural figure with close ties to the institution,” the New York Times reports.

    Gizmodo Media Group CEO Raju Narisetti is leaving Univision, which the Daily Beast attributes to the parent company’s “plans to get more directly involved with its flagship digital media property as it weighs deep cuts.”

    Progressive news site AlterNet has been bought by RawStory. In a statement, the company explained that the move was “part of a long-planned transition that will ensure the stability and future of the AlterNet brand.”

    Lauren O’Neill-Butler talks to See What Can Be Done author Lorrie Moore about personal essays, working with New York Review of Books editor Robert Silvers, and not being motivated by FOMO. “I just had to look up FOMO. I never write anything out of fear,” Moore said. “And certainly not fear of missing out. Does FOMO stand for something else? Feelings of malaise offset?”

  • April 9, 2018

    Tom Wolfe

    Tom Wolfe

    This week, New York Magazine is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. To celebrate, it’s running an oral history, with quotes from editors and contributors, including Tom Wolfe, Gloriam Steinem, Gail Sheehy, Michael Wolff, and Frank Rich. In the first issue, which came out on April 8, 1968, Tom Wolfe wrote about accents and status, and Arthur C. Clarke wrote about Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    William T. Vollmann’s new books about nuclear- and carbon-based fuels should “scare the hell out of you.”

    Amazon’s TV adaptation of the Lord of the Rings could wind up costing more than $1 billion to make.

    In the wake of the rapid departure of controversial right-wing columnist Kevin Williamson—who written, among other things, that “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide”—the Atlantic says it will be more thorough in its vetting of future hires.

    In January, the New York Times Book Review announced its plans to stop publishing the Bestseller List for graphic novels. But the review is continuing to take comics seriously: It recently hired Ed Park and Hillary Chute to write a new column about graphic novels, which will start this month.

    Novelist Anthony Marra, author of The Tsar of Love and Techno, has won the 2018 Simpson Family Literary Prize, which supports mid-career authors.

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