• September 28, 2018

    Margo Jefferson

    At The Millions, Raksha Vasudevan talks to Margo Jefferson about feminism, whiteness, and combining criticism and memoir in her 2015 book Negroland. “I’d spent my writing life as a critic. My initial feeling was that those kinds of tones and voices had to go; this was memoir,” she said. “But then, I realized, no, that was as much a fixed part of my identity as other things. I realized I had to include the critic who is diagnosing, who is assessing, who is judging against a kind of backdrop that is aesthetic, cultural, political.”

    PEN International and VIDA: Women in Literary Arts are collaborating “to monitor gender disparities in literature” worldwide through the PEN VIDA count.

    The New York Times Magazine profiles Deborah Eisenberg.

    New York magazine’s Boris Kachka examines the “backlash to the backlash at the New York Review of Books.”

    Kristinn Hrafnsson has taken over as editor in chief of WikiLeaks. Julian Assange, who has been stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 and had no access to the internet or visitors for the last six months, will stay on as publisher. “I condemn the treatment of Julian Assange that leads to my new role,” Hrafnsson said, “but I welcome the opportunity to secure the continuation of the important work based on WikiLeaks ideals.”

    The New York Times opinion section has apologized for posting a Twitter poll asking if users found Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony to be credible, calling the format “insensitive in light of the gravity of this hearing.”

  • September 27, 2018

    At the Columbia Journalism Review, Michael Rosenwald compares the press coverage of Anita Hill’s testimony against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to the coverage of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

    New York magazine is partnering with nonprofit news site The City to improve local news coverage in the New York area. Former Daily News editor Jere Hester will lead a team of around fifteen journalists in coverage of affordable housing, education, health care, and transportation, among other topics.

    Jess Row

    The Whiting Foundation has announced its 2018 creative nonfiction grant recipients. The winners include Jess Row, Andrea Elliott, and Akash Kupar.   

    In a New Republic profile of Karl Ove Knausgaard, the author talks about his politics, a hard-to-define mix of free speech absolutism, unwavering support for environmental issues, and a distaste for political orthodoxy. “What you want as a writer is complexity . . . and politics is the opposite,” he says.

    Tonight in New York, Deborah Eisenberg will present her new bookYour Duck is My Duck at 192 Books in Manhattan and Ben Marcus will read from his new short-story collection, Notes from the Fog, at Greenlight Books in Brooklyn.

  • September 26, 2018

    Kiese Laymon

    The finalists for the 2018 Kirkus Prize have been announced. Nominees include Naima Coster’s Halsey Street, Lauren Groff’s Florida, Ling Ma’s Severance, Beth Macy’s Dopesick, and Kiese Laymon’s Heavy. The winner will be announced in October.

    Ben Fountain talks to Rolling Stone about the 2016 election, moving from fiction to journalism, and his new book, Beautiful Country Burn Again.

    Over one hundred contributors to the New York Review of Books, including Luc Sante, Janet Malcolm, and Colm Tóibín, have signed an open letter criticizing the magazine’s termination of editor Ian Buruma.

    “The project that Me Too has advanced is a visionary assertion that injustices can be righted, that men and women can interact with more integrity and more compassion than we have so far,” writes Moira Donegan at The Guardian about recent articles at NYRB and Harper’s Magazine. “MacArthur and Buruma have refused this project, denying that the world might be otherwise than they have always known it, asserting that their perceptions are the only correct ones. Those who are too defensive, too incurious, or too bigoted to engage honestly with Me Too are missing out on one of the greatest intellectual feats of our time.”

    Tonight at MurMrr—the excellent Brooklyn series of performances by authors and musicians—Karl Ove Knausgaard will discuss his epic My Struggle with Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts.

  • September 25, 2018

    Akwaeke Emezi. Photo: Elizabeth Wirija

    The National Book Foundation has announced the winners of this year’s 5 Under 35 award. Hannah Lillith Assadi, Akwaeke Emezi, Lydia Kiesling, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, and Moriel Rothman-Zecher were chosen by a group of judges, including Colson Whitehead, Carmen Maria Machado, and Samantha Hunt.

    The New York Review of Books has issued a statement about the firing of editor Ian Buruma over the publication of an essay by Jian Ghomeshi.

    At BOMB, Elizabeth Metzger talks to Sarah Ruhl, a classmate and colleague of the late poet Max Ritvo.

    The Paris Review is giving its 2019 Hadada Award for lifetime achievement to Deborah Eisenberg, whose story collection Your Duck Is My Duck has just been released. The award, which is given to “a distinguished member of the writing community who has made a strong and unique contribution to literature,” will be given at the Paris Review’s Spring Revel on April 2.

    Craigslist founder Craig Newmark is giving $20 million dollars to The Markup, a new investigative journalism website focusing on technology. The Markup will be led by ProPublica’s Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson, as well as former Wikimedia Foundation head Sue Gardner. The group plans to hire more than twenty journalists and will begin posting stories early next year.

    At BuzzFeed News, Steven Perlberg looks at the ever-growing list of Trump-related books and concludes that “the future of publishing is just books about Donald Trump forever until you are dead.”

    “While knowingly abusive men attempting comeback tours are being hired to write for the distinguished papers of America, pretty much no major publication has approached me to write investigative journalism since I wrote this thing,” tweets A. N. Devers of her Longreads article about the erasure of editor Brigid Hughes from the history of the Paris Review. “It is an insult to me and freelancers who aren’t white and male that we would be passed over for these men who are sad that they are shitty to women and who aren’t very good writers.”

    Tonight at Book Culture in New York, Adam Kirsch discusses Life in Culture: Selected Letters of Lionel Trilling.

  • September 24, 2018

    michelle obama becoming

    Michelle Obama

    The Times is comparing the book tour for Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which will be released on November 13, to that of a pop megastar: “While other authors typically follow a circuit that may include podcast interviews and stops at the 92nd Street Y in New York and Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., Mrs. Obama is set to embark on a 10-city tour put together by Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, which manages about 500 artists, including Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé and U2. Tickets are available, while they last, from Ticketmaster.”

    At The Atlantic, Meghan O’Rourke weighs in on Ian Buruma’s dismissal from the New York Review of Books. “Disconcertingly, Buruma believed the Review was doing something intellectually interesting in publishing the Ghomeshi essay, a misjudgment of epic proportions.”

    Ruth Franklin, the author of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, talks with the National Book Critics Circle about the “craft of criticism.”

    The Los Angeles Clippers just hired a writer, Lee Jenkins, best known for the profiles he writes for Sports Illustrated. As Ben McGrath points out at the New Yorker: “In this post-‘Moneyball’ era, many sports franchises have gone to great lengths to maximize their statistical focus, in some cases hiring journalists with a quantitative bent.”

    Two years after their merger, Soft Skull Press and Catapult are, according to Publishers’ Weekly, “seeing considerable sales success.”

    The judges of this year’s Man Booker Prize is criticizing authors for being too “long-winded.” (In other Man Booker news, Daisy Johnson, at twenty-seven, is the youngest writer to ever be short-listed for the prize. Her book Everything Under, a retelling of the Oedipus myth, will be published in the US in October.)

  • September 21, 2018

    Rachel Kushner

    Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room, Richard Powers’s The Overstory, Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black, Daisy Johnson’s Everything Under, Robin Robertson’s The Long Take, and Anna Burns’s Milkman make up this year’s Man Booker Prize shortlist. The winner will be announced next month.

    The critics of the New York Times Book Review talk to John Williams about the Nobel Prize, which will not be awarded this year. “I fully intended to say that I was indifferent to the charade of the Nobel; that it’s madness to believe that literary excellence can be conferred by committee,” said Parul Sehgal, who then remembered finding authors like Kenzaburo Oe and Heinrich Böll through the prize. “I like to believe that I would have found these books anyway, but how long would I have had to wait?” Jennifer Szalai reflected on the rare instances when the prize has gone to nonfiction writers. “The boundaries within literature can be porous,” she said, “and if someone writes gorgeous work that happens to be called nonfiction, why shouldn’t that be considered literature?”

    A recent survey by the American Press Institute found that “only 43 percent of people said they could easily sort news from opinion” on websites and social media.

    Merve Emre talks to Longreads about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Jung, and her new book, The Personality Brokers.

    At Electric Literature, Candace Williams talks to Eileen Myles about Palestine, teaching writing, and how Twitter has changed poetry. “I realized when I got a line, I could send it out to 25, or 50, 1,000, or 5,000 people depending on how many followers I had, and that you could engage the world regularly as a poet in a way that had never been possible,” Myles explained. “You could be alone and public at the same time. I realized that part of the difficulty with composing, in front of people was the fact of being in front of them. I can’t get up at a mic and write a poem but I can be sitting outside with my dog and get a good line and tweet it immediately. It’s revealed and hidden at the same time.”

  • September 20, 2018

    After facing criticism for publishing a first-person essay by Jian Ghomeshi, Ian Buruma has left the New York Review of Books, the New York Times reports. Buruma told Dutch website Vrij that he felt forced to resign after publisher Rea Hederman “made clear to me that university publishers, whose advertisements make publication of The New York Review of Books partly possible, were threatening a boycott. They are afraid of the reactions on the campuses, where this is an inflammatory topic.” Buruma feels that his decision to step down “is a capitulation to social media and university presses.” On Twitter, Jia Tolentino notes that though Buruma may blame a “frenzy of histrionic women” for his departure, “the Ghomeshi essay & Slate interview added up to a truly abysmal professional performance: you can’t be a good editor with such pathological distance from the texture of the world.”

    Former Harper’s Magazine managing editor Hasan Altaf talks to the Huffington Post about staff reactions to recent articles by John Hockenberry and Katie Roiphe. “I felt like it was inappropriate, to use a mild word, to give him the platform of Harper’s,” he said. “This to me seems like the time to give a platform to people on the other end of this, because it is more important to hear from them, and they generally don’t have the same access to platforms like this.”

    Danez Smith. Photo: Hieu Minh Nguyen

    St. Martin’s Press is publishing a book by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump will hit shelves this December.

    Time editor in chief Edward Felsenthal talks to Columbia Journalism Review about its recent sale and the future of the magazine. Felsenthal is excited about working with the magazine’s new owners, Marc and Lynne Benioff. “One of the things that is so wonderful about the Benioffs is that they’ve made clear that they believe in high quality journalism,” he said. “I think we’re well-positioned for the future because of that.” At the Times, Marc Benioff tells Kara Swisher that he sees the company as a start-up: “They have been opportunity constrained . . . but we are here to unshackle them.”

    The Nation has hired Pitchfork’s Kevin Lozano as its assistant literary editor. Lozano will start at the magazine in October.

    The Forward Prize for poetry has been awarded to Danez Smith for the collection Don’t Call Us Dead. At twenty-nine, Smith is the youngest winner in the prize’s history.

    At Lithub, Elizabeth Metzger, Max Ritvo’s classmate and literary executor, remembers working with the late poet on what would become The Final Voicemails. “The poems in The Final Voicemails expose the machinery of the creative mind at work.They glitter with this intense and darker drive to enter the posthumous realm,” she writes. “Max’s project was clear: to imagine a world without him.”

    Tonight at Verso Books in Brooklyn, Crashed author Adam Tooze and Globalists author Quinn Slobodian discuss the financial crash, neoliberalism, and their books with Atossa Araxia Abrahamian.

  • September 19, 2018

    Laura van den Berg

    Tin House talks to Laura van den Berg about Havana, the similarities between travel and horror, and her new book, The Third Hotel. “Speaking generally, the way things appear to be versus the terrifying reality lying in wait just beneath the surface is often foundational to horror,” she said. “Transient spaces like hotels and airplanes ask us to make a pact with surfaces, I think, to believe in the lie of them (the bedspread is clean; those ‘homey’ touches actually feel something like home). Yet there are moments . . . where the surface falters and a whole little world of strange opens up.”

    Bob Woodward’s Fear has sold more copies in its first week than any other book in Simon & Schuster’s publishing history. Already in its tenth printing, the book has sold over one million hardcover copies alone.

    Puja Patel has been hired as the new editor in chief of Pitchfork. Patel was most recently editor in chief of Spin.

    Politico’s Annie Karni is joining the New York Times as a White House correspondent.

    “The confession, when made by men showing a sensitive side, is a literary device to display a newly whole, unified character who is stronger thanks to introspection,” writes Nausicaa Renner, comparing the ways that women and men are allowed to write about harassment and assault. “Women, however, have the reverse experience: to ensure that their accounts are bulletproof, they are quoted, rather than given space to describe their experience in their own words.” At the New Yorker, Jia Tolentino notes that “for Buruma and Ghomeshi and Hockenberry, and for many others, the abuse of women is not the problem—naming it, and giving it consequences, is the problem.” In an interview with CBC Radio program The Current host Anna Maria Tremonti, Harper’s Magazine president and publisher Rick MacArthur compared criticism of John Hockenberry and Jian Ghomeshi’s respective essays to Soviet Union-style reeducation.

  • September 18, 2018

    Salesforce co-founder Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne have bought Time magazine. Columbia Journalism Review notes that the Benioffs are “the latest tech entrepreneurs to join a club of billionaire media moguls.” Folio reports that the new owners don’t plan to involve themselves in the magazine’s daily operations. Benioff himself tells the Times that Time will stay in New York. “I’m busy enough with my job. They have a great team. It’s a very strong business,” he explained in a text message.

    Haruki Murakami

    Haruki Murakami has withdrawn himself from consideration for the New Academy Prize. The award was conceived as an alternative to the Nobel Prize, which is on hiatus this year after sexual assault allegations were made against members of the Swedish Academy. Murakami was among four finalists who were notified by the prize organizers, but said that he prefered “to concentrate on his writing, away from media attention.” The other three finalists are Neil Gaiman, Maryse Condé, and Kim Thúy.

    Hala Alyan’s Salt Houses and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s We Were Eight Years in Power have won the fiction and nonfiction Dayton Literary Peace Prizes.

    The New York Times talks to historian Jill Lepore about growing up in Boston, women in politics, and her new book, These Truths.

    Amy Chozick’s memoir Chasing Hillary is being turned into a TV series by Warner Bros.

    New York Media is rethinking its books coverage. Nieman Lab writes that rather than a separate vertical website section for books, they will now be thought of as a “horizontal” section and covered throughout the company’s media properties.

    French Exit author Patrick deWitt talks to The Guardian about wealth, family, and ghosts. DeWitt says that his belief in the occult drives his writing. “I think there are all sorts of things that go on behind the scenes that we can’t necessarily define or put words to,” he said. “To me, these are frightening elements and I don’t necessarily like to address them in my daily life, but my desire to write about them in fiction is apparently overwhelming. I keep doing it over and over again.”

  • September 17, 2018

    Sigrid Nunez

    Sigrid Nunez

    The National Book Foundation has announced the longlist for the 2018 awards in fiction, which includes Lauren Groff’s Florida, Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers, Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend, Tommy Orange’s There There, and others.

    At Slate, Isaac Chotiner interviews New York Review of Books editor Ian Buruma about why he chose to run an essay by Jian Ghomeshi, who has faced numerous allegations of sexual assault. Ghomeshi says that he is trying to “inject nuance” into his story. Laura Miller concludes that it’s a “terrible personal essay”: “The piece is one long and very weird train wreck.” Jezebel juxtaposes Ghomeshi’s essay with former NPR host John Hockenberry’s Harper’s piece “Exile,” in which the author claims he is “no rapist or sex offender,” but rather the victim of a culture that “chooses … not to distinguish between the charge and act of rape and some improper, failed, and awkward attempts at courtship.” Sarah Weinman, author of a new book on true crime and Nabokov, says: “Quit using Lolita to absolve your guilt, John Hockenberry.”

    Bob Woodward, the author of Fear, talks about how to find the “best obtainable truth” about Trump. “There has been a lot of reporting on the lies, the things that are untrue. But the question is, what are the consequences of those things that are untrue. How does Trump make decisions? As you go through the book—it is all immense new amounts of detail about North Korea, about Afghanistan, about the Middle East, taxes, immigration, trade issues … that is what affects people.”

    The New York Public Library is hoping that social media can inspire new interest in classic works of fiction, releasing books such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland along with slideshows and videos.

    At Medium, Sex Object author Jessica Valenti writes that “kids don’t hurt women’s careers”—father’s do. “If fathers did the same kind of work at home that mothers have always done, women’s careers could flourish in ways we haven’t yet imagined. But to get there, we need to stop framing mothers’ workplace woes as an issue of “balance,” and start talking about how men’s domestic negligence makes it so hard for us to succeed.”

    Laura Miller discusses the craft of book criticism.