Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was the paper’s Tehran bureau chief, was arrested on espionage charges last July. His, trial, which starts today, is closed to the public, and to his family. The Post sought a visa to send an editor to attend the trial, but the request was ignored. In a statement released just before the trial started, executive editor Martin Baron stated: “[Rezaian] was imprisoned in Iran’s worst prison. He was placed in isolation for many months and denied medical care he needed. His case was assigned to a judge internationally notorious for human rights violations. He could not select the lawyer of his choosing. He was given only an hour and a half to meet with a lawyer approved by the court. No evidence has ever been produced by prosecutors or the court to support these absurd charges.” Rezaian’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, is being held on related charges.
“The effect,” Dan Chiasson writes of John Ashbery’s new collection of poems, Breezeway, “is sometimes unnerving, as though somebody had given you your own garbage back as a gift, cheerfully wrapped.” He means this, of course, as a compliment. Ashbery “has gone farther from literature within literature than any poet alive. His game is to make an intentionally frivolous style express the full range of human feeling, and he remains funnier and better at it, a game he invented, than his many imitators.”
The finalists for the 2015 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Award have been announced.
The latest issue of Harper’s includes Clarice Lispector’s final story, left unfinished at the time of her death. As Rachel Kushner wrote in the pages of Bookforum: Lispector “had a diamond-hard intelligence, a visionary instinct, and a sense of humor that veered from naïf wonder to wicked comedy. She wrote novels that are fractured, cerebral, fundamentally nonnarrative (unless you count as plot a woman standing in her maid’s room gazing at a closet for nearly two hundred pages). And yet she became quite famous, a national icon of Brazil whose face adorned postage stamps.”
The sci-fi writer John Scalzi has signed a thirteen-book, $3.4 million deal with the publisher Tor. At his blog Whatever, Scalzi interviews himself. “Dude, that’s like… a lot of money.” “It is. Mind you, it’s spread out over a decade and thirteen books. And I only get the money if I actually, you know, write the books. But, yeah.”
Amazon’s contract with Penguin Random House UK is set to expire, and according to “industry insiders,” the publisher may block sales of its titles on Amazon if a new contract agreement is not reached.
Janine Gibson, who edited the Guardian‘s Pulitzer-winning coverage of the Edward Snowden leaks, has announced her departure from the paper.