• April 30, 2018

    The Nobel Prize in literature may be canceled this year due to a series of accusations of sexual abuse. In November, French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, who is married to Nobel academy Katarina Frostenson,  was accused of sexual assault or harassment by eighteen women. If the prize is not given, it will be the first time it has been withheld since World War II. The Swedish Academy will make its decision this week, on May 3.

    Ninety years after it was completed, Zora Neale Hurston’s book about a former slave, Barracoon, is being published this week by Amistad press.

    Adam Fitzgerald

    Adam Fitzgerald

    The Home School in Hudson, New York, will be offering its annual poetry conference this summer from July 29 through August 3. “The key inspiration for Home School Hudson,” says the website, “is John Ashbery’s 19th-century Hudson residence, a carefully composed collage-environment the poet has constructed and curated over thirty-five years with an eclectic array of fine art by European and American masters, furniture, pottery, textiles, bric-a-brac, toys, and other objects—all organized in an architecturally-distinguished setting.” This year’s faculty includes poets CAConrad, Adam Fitzgerald, Myung Mi Kim, Harryette Mullen, Eileen Myles, Frank Wilderson III, and Divya Victor, Che Gossett. The school has extended its deadline for applications until May 1.

    LARB has an article about the cultural phenomenon of Cho Nam-joo’s Kim Ji-young Born 1982, which was the bestselling novel in Korea last year, and became so popular that the government drew on it for a recent PR campaign.

    On Wednesday night in New York, George Saunders appears at the New York Public Library, and Geoff Dyer talks with filmmaker Michael Almereyda at Brooklyn’s Murmrr Ballroom.

  • April 27, 2018

    Rita Dove

    New York Times Magazine editor Jake Silverstein has announced that Rita Dove will be the publication’s poetry editor starting this summer. Dove, a former Poet Laureate of the United States and the author of numerous books—including poetry, short stories, and essays—will take over the job from poet Terrance Hayes.  

    A movie focused on the journalists behind the Harvey Weinstein exposé is in the works. Deadline magazine reports that the film will focus on how reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey and editor Rebecca Corbett broke the Pulitzer Prize–winning story: “The thrust of the film isn’t Weinstein or his scandal. This is about an all-women team of journalists who persevered through threats of litigation and intimidation, to break a game-changing story, told in a procedural manner like Spotlight and All the President’s Men.”

    Charlie Rose, who stepped down from hosting his PBS show after sexual misconduct allegations from seventeen women surfaced last year, is reportedly pitching a show on which he interviews other powerful men, such as Matt Lauer and Louis CK, who have been accused of harassment. On Twitter, New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum wrote: “I am only up for this Charlie Rose show if it is a reality competition called The Reckoning & it is hosted by the angry ghost of Frances Farmer.” Tina Brown says she was approached to produce the show, adding, “These guys are already planning their comebacks!”  

    The Library of Congress has announced a new poetry podcast.

    At the New York Review of Books Daily, Jay Rosen writes about Trump and the media, tracing the long history of the Right’s attempts to discredit journalists: “There is alive in the land an organized campaign to discredit the American press. This campaign is succeeding. Its roots are long.”

  • April 26, 2018

    In a press release, George R.R. Martin announced the publication date for his next book, Fire and Blood, and confirmed that “winter is not coming . . . not in 2018, at least.” While The Winds of Winter won’t be arriving any time soon, “imaginary history” Fire and Blood will be published next November.

    Peter Thiel. Photo: Dan Taylor

    Peter Thiel has withdrawn his bid for Gawker.com. In an agreement with the adviser in charge of the site’s liquidation, HuffPost’s Sara Boboltz reports that Thiel has promised “to not remove Gawker’s content from the internet or to pay anyone else to do so on his behalf.” Boboltz writes that the decision may have been made in order to avoid a tortious interference lawsuit.

    A Danish court has found Peter Madsen guilty of murdering journalist Kim Wall on his homemade submarine last year.

    The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the case of Drew Cloud. A supposed student loan expert that had been quoted by the Washington Post and other news outlets, Cloud turned out to be the creation of LendEDU, a student loan refinancing company.

    Reporters Without Borders has released their annual World Press Freedom Index. The US is ranked at 45, and other countries like Turkey and the Philippines have fallen lower on the list. “When foreign leaders see the U.S. president denounce the media on a regular basis, it gives them free rein to do the same,” RSF North America director Margaux Ewen told the Washington Post. “It is much harder for foreign leaders to take our requests for them to show greater respect for human rights and press freedom seriously when the U.S. does not lead by example.”

    Tonight at McNally Jackson Books in New York, Viv Albertine talks with Joanna Scutts about her new memoir, To Throw Away Unopened.

  • April 25, 2018

    Roxanne Gay. Photo: Kevin Nance

    In her Medium pop-up magazine Unruly Bodies, Roxane Gay writes about her difficult decision to undergo weight reduction surgery. “I worried that people would think I betrayed fat positivity, something I do very much believe in even if I can’t always believe in it for myself. I worried that everyone who responded so generously to my memoir, Hunger, would feel betrayed,” she writes. “I worried I would be seen as betraying myself. I worried I would be seen as taking the easy way out, even though nothing about any of this has been easy, not one thing.”

    James Comey’s A Higher Truth sold more than half a million copies in its first week, double sales for Hillary Clinton’s What Happened and triple those of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury.

    Lorne Michaels and Aidy Bryant are creating a Hulu series based on Lindy West’s Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman.

    Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen has been suspended after a column on the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings was found to have “several inconsistencies.”

    Curtis Sittenfeld says that Alice Munro is the only author that she rereads regularly. “Sometimes I reread her stories because the plots are complicated, and I read the first time to get a handle on the plot and the second time more to enjoy her insights about people,” she explains. “I also find that as I get older, it’s different to read a Munro story in my forties that I first read in my twenties. Even if I liked it 15 years ago, I now identify with her portrayals of motherhood or marriage in a much more visceral way.”

    Vanity Fair is implementing a paywall on its website. Readers will have access to four articles per month before they need to subscribe. “At a moment when quality journalism is not a luxury, but a necessity, your commitment will enable us to invest in our reporting, writing, photography, and video, expanding into new areas and onto new platforms, with you, our core reader and viewer, clearly in focus,” editor Radhika Jones writes. “We cannot do it without you.”


  • April 24, 2018

    Hanya Yanagihara

    The Guardian profiles Hanya Yanagihara, the author of A Little Life and editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine. Yanagihara says that besides health care, she decided to take a job with the Times because the collaborative nature of working at a magazine balances out the effects of working on a novel. “Fiction writing is so interior and makes you into an awful person in a lot of ways,” she explains. “The private . . . becomes much more sharply private when you have a job, especially one that’s in the world. It reminds you on a daily basis of what people sound like, how they move, what their concerns are, how they think.”

    A former Vice producer is suing the company after being sexually assaulted while on assignment. Saher Shakir was working with a film crew to cover a soccer game in Algiers when she was groped by a group of men outside the stadium. According to two coworkers who witnessed the assault, “Shakir returned to the U.S. shaken and fearful that speaking about the incident or asking the company for assistance in dealing with the trauma would threaten her job.”

    Very often, women in fiction are held up as either bitter enemies or as complete BFFs. Neither of those portrayals is very complicated, very interesting, or very true,” Celeste Ng tells the Los Angeles Review of Books. “Much more common — and to my mind, interesting — is the middle ground, in which we find ourselves both drawn to and troubled by another person.”

    Jeet Heer explains why Kevin Williamson’s Wall Street Journal essay about being fired from The Atlantic “is, from top to bottom, bullshit.”

    New York Times editorial page director James Bennet talks to Politico about the role of politics in journalism, Trump’s effect on the press, and handling criticism of his section’s writers, which can often be found on social media. “It’s really hard, I find, in this environment to sort out the signal and the noise,” he said. “What is the important reaction, response, counterargument that we should be hearing? And are those readers, you know, real readers, or are they just people performing for each other on social media? And, again, I don’t want to sound like I’m—you can’t dismiss it. You can’t just say, ‘Oh, they’re all a bunch of jackasses,’ because they’re not. But some of them are jackasses.”

  • April 23, 2018

    Jennifer Egan

    Jennifer Egan notes the challenges facing the writers collective PEN America now. “At the core of PEN America’s advocacy have always been threats to free expression. Under the Trump administration we’re seeing more of those on our domestic front than most of us could have imagined five years ago. PEN America is uniquely equipped to fight these practices—after all, we’ve been calling out the tactics of repressive regimes for decades.“

    Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe might be the focal point of an upcoming Justice Department criminal investigation, but that isn’t stopping him from meeting with publishers in the hopes of getting a book deal.  

    The Brooklyn arts series Murmrr has announced its next author event: On May 2, Geoff Dyer will give a talk and a slide show about his latest book, The Street Philosophy of Garry Winogrand. It promises to be a delightfully interdisciplinary event: Interviewing Dyer will be director and writer Michael Almereyda, whose movies include Marjorie Prime. Tickets are available here.

    Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post has written an article about Moira Donegan, the former New Republic staffer who created the Shitty Men in Media list. Says Sullivan: “She created a document to warn women of sexual harassers. It’s haunted her ever since.”

    An article at Vox uses Sally Kohn’s new book about bigotry, The Opposite of Hate, to address the shortcomings of fact-checking in the publishing industry.


  • 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.