• October 22, 2018

    Karen Russell

    Karen Russell

    The Long Black Veil author Jennifer Finney Boylan responds to Trump’s ban on transgender troops: “Even if trans issues don’t top the list of things you’re worried about, you should be appalled by the latest episode of kick-the-soldier, because it lays bare the fact that Mr. Trump is never motivated by policy, or research, or rationality. The only thing that matters to him is bigotry.”

    Karen Russell, the author of the Pulitzer-nominated novel Swamplandia, has sold two books to Knopf: the story collection Orange World (the title story of which ran in the New Yorker) and the short novel Sleep Donation, in which a near-future America is ravaged by a deadly outbreak of insomnia.  

    Rebecca Traister discusses Good and Mad, her new book about women’s anger. She notes the travesty of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation. But she also warns against despair: “I think if we didn’t feel optimism at this juncture, it would be very deadening. And what are we going to do, if we’re not going to keep fighting? I believe that continuing to fight is a moral imperative for those who want to make the country a better and more just place.”

    Angie Thomas—the author of The Hate U Give, the bestselling YA novel about Black Lives Matter—talks about the making of her book into a movie, and about her second novel, On the Come Up, which is due out in February.

    Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is happy to talk about where he buys his hats, his favorite TV shows, and beard-grooming methods, but he does not want to talk about the next installment of his wildly popular A Song of Ice and Fire series.

  • October 19, 2018

    The Washington Post has published Jamal Khashoggi’s final column, which was sent to them by Khashoggi’s assistant and translator the day after he went missing. “Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate,” he wrote in a call for press freedom in the Arab world.

    Jennifer Egan

    PEN America president Jennifer Egan explains why the organization filed a lawsuit against President Trump earlier this week. “The president has done more than vent against the press: he has threatened to use his presidential powers to stymie reporters and news organizations, and has followed through on those threats,” she writes. “Trump’s threats and actions impede the First Amendment rights of journalists and news organizations, and are therefore illegal. We are suing to make him to stop.”

    The 2018 TS Eliot Prize shortlist has been announced. Nominees include Tracy K. Smith, Nick Laird, and Terrance Hayes. Winners will be announced in January.

    The Lenny Letter website, which grew out of Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s newsletter of the same name, is shutting down today.

    Milkman author Anna Burns talks to The Guardian about her Man Booker win.

    Tina Turner tells the New York Times By the Book section about ancient Egypt, Buddhism, and Jackie Kennedy. “People are always surprised to hear that Jackie Kennedy is my role model,” Turner said. “I love reading about her childhood, her time in the White House, her sense of style and even her insecurities — it is comforting that someone as seemingly perfect as Jackie could be self-conscious about her imperfections.”

     

  • October 18, 2018

    Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo talks to staff at the Washington Post, where columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible murder have pushed his colleagues “into a frenzy.” “Even people who aren’t involved in the coverage are all talking about it,” said one journalist. “How’s the administration gonna respond? What does this mean for our other overseas journalists?”

    Tana French. Photo: Kathrin Baumbach

    Craigslist founder Craig Newmark is donating $2.5 million to New York Public Radio, bringing “his total philanthropic efforts involving media in the last year to $50 million,” the New York Times reports.

    “I had been thinking a lot about the connections between luck and empathy,” said Tana French on the origins of her new book, The Witch Elm. “Lately I’ve been thinking about, ‘Okay, what about somebody who’s been lucky in every way, all along, who’s always come out on top of the coin flip?’ . . . What would that do to his ability to take on board the fact that other people’s very different experiences are, in fact, real? And then, what would happen if something happened to him that meant he was no longer on the right side of all the coin flips?”

    Following the announcement of Anna Burns as the winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize, judge Val McDermid reflects on this year’s judging process, which she calls “the best book club in the world.” “Even when we had to make our final choice, there were no ultimatums, no horse-trading, no sulking. Fuelled by coffee and chocolate, we talked our way through the shortlist one by one, itemising pros and cons,” she explained. “And after more chocolate and another hour or so, Anna Burns’s remarkable novel emerged as the one we all felt was the right choice. Then it was finally time for the champagne.”

    Tonight at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, Nausicaa Renner talks to Meghan O’Gieblyn about her new book, Interior States.

  • October 17, 2018

    Anna Burns

    Anna Burns’s Milkman has won the 2018 Man Booker Prize, making Burns the first Northern Irish author to win. “None of us has ever read anything like this before,” said judging chair Kwame Anthony Appiah. “Anna Burns’ utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour.” The Guardian’s Claire Amistad writes that although the story, which draws on Burns’s experiences growing up in Ireland during the Troubles, “is relentlessly internalised” and lacks “conventions such as paragraphing,” the book is “a plucky and challenging one . . . that speaks directly to the #MeToo era and to political anxieties over hard borders in Ireland and elsewhere.” Graywolf has moved the book’s US publication date from fall 2019 to December 11.

    PEN America is suing President Trump in order to stop him “from using the machinery of government to retaliate or threaten reprisals against journalists and media outlets for coverage he dislikes.”

    Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties is being turned into a TV show by FX.

    At the New York Times, A.O. Scott reviews Marielle Heller’s new movie, Can You Ever Forgive Me, based on “writer turned literary forger” Lee Israel’s memoir.

    At BuzzFeed News, Bim Adewunmi profiles Heavy author Kiese Laymon. “Not many people run back,” Laymon said of his decision to move back to Mississippi from upstate New York. Now a creative writing professor at the University of Mississippi, Laymon had been teaching at Vassar. “I kept writing about Mississippi but then I was like, man, I’m writing about this shit all the time but is it really home any more?” But “it was a sick grandmama and the feeling that he had outgrown Vassar that compelled his return,” Adewunmi explains. “I needed to finish my book and I just couldn’t,” Laymon said. “I came back to be closer to the place that made me and made my grandmama, it made my mama. I just needed . . . I needed help. . . . I should’ve gone to therapy but instead I came back to Mississippi.”

  • October 16, 2018

    At the New York Times, Alex Marshall talks to Val McDermid, a judge for this year’s Man Booker Prize. “We all agreed if any of us absolutely hated a book, we wouldn’t put it forward,” McDermid said of the judging process. “But we’re there to find a winner, not personal taste. We’ve all lost books that we loved along the way — that spoke to us in a very personal way, maybe due to our experiences in life or the place where we were.” McDermid and the four other judges meet today “in a secret location” in London to decide this year’s winner.

    Rebecca Ley. Photo: Jennifer Moyes

    The Guardian has awarded its 2018 Not the Booker prize to Rebecca Ley for her novel Sweet Fruit, Sour Land.

    For their pop-up blog Executive Time, Kara Swisher tells Slate about her best and worst bosses.

    The majority of San Francisco magazine’s editorial staff have quit their jobs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Although the publication recently won a National Magazine Award, parent company Modern Luxury had recently announced plans for “unspecified budget cuts.”

    “So what happened to The Outline?” asks Laura Hazard Owen of Joshua Topolsky’s struggling website. “Did it try to make the good shit and stumble by mistake into cheap shit? Did it overestimate how unique its editorial voice actually was? Or has it faced the same set of roadblocks the rest of the digital media industry has, only without much goodwill from all those cheap-shit producers?”

  • October 15, 2018

    Ariana Reines

    Ariana Reines

    The “Alternative Nobel Prize” in literature has been awarded to the Guadeloupean novelist Maryse Condé, author of novels including Desirada, Segu, and Crossing the Mangrove. The New Academy Prize was created after the Nobels were canceled this year, and serve “as a reminder that literature should be associated with democracy, openness, empathy and respect.” According to the chair of judges Ann Pålsson, Condé is a “grand storyteller” who “describes the ravages of colonialism and the post-colonial chaos in a language which is both precise and overwhelming.”

    According to Publisher’s Weekly,a sense of calm has returned” to the Frankfurt Book Fair, “despite lingering political uncertainty across Europe, the U.K., and in the U.S.”

    On Sunday, October 21, at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, author and Tin House editor Rob Spillman will offer a seminar on “establishing authority for writers.” Spillman writes: “As someone who receives upwards of twelve thousand submissions a year, what makes me turn the page? We’ll take a close look at the first 300 words of published stories, essays, memoir, and novels and examine how the authority was established.” How do you get in? Send Spillman a screenshot of a check you have made to a progressive candidate of your choice.

    Novelist Javier Marias says he gave up on Knausgaard 300 pages in.

    Penguin Press has purchased the rights to actor Will Smith’s memoir for a reported seven figures.

    This Wednesday at Columbia University, poets Ariana Reines and Joshua Beckman will read their work.

  • October 12, 2018

    Stephen Elliott has filed a lawsuit against Shitty Media Men List creator Moira Donegan for emotional distress and libel, The Cut reports. Other defendants included in the suit are several anonymous contributors to the list, who Elliott plans to identify by subpoenaing metadata from Google.  

    At Columbia Journalism Review, Sulome Anderson reflects on the news coverage of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was reportedly abducted and possibly killed inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey this month.

    Haruki Murakami

    Lauren van den Berg and Jeff Jackson discuss the challenges of writing violence.

    At Lithub, Mira Jacob talks to Nicole Chung about family, assimilation, and her new book, All You Can Ever Know. “I honestly believe my race was irrelevant, to them,” Chung said of her adoptive parents, who were told by experts to raise their child in a “colorblind” way. “But it obviously wasn’t to me, or to many other people. And when I started to realize just how much it mattered, because I was getting called names at school, I did not even have the words ‘race’ or ‘racism’ to use. We had just never used these words, or even really acknowledged them.”

    “I was so popular in the 1990s in Russia, at the time they were changing from the Soviet Union—there was big confusion, and people in confusion like my books,” Haruki Murakami told The Guardian as he explained his theory that his literary style is suited to chaotic political times. “In Germany, when the Berlin Wall fell down, there was confusion—and people liked my books.” Murakami tells the New York Times that he doesn’t read his reviews. “My wife reads every review, though, and she only reads the bad ones out loud to me,” he said. “She says I have to accept bad reviews. The good reviews, forget it.”

     

  • October 11, 2018

    Colson Whitehead. Photo: Dorothy Hong

    Colson Whitehead is working on a new novel. Inspired by the real-life story of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, The Nickel Boys follows two black teens sent to a reform school in 1960s Florida. “It was emblematic of so many injustices that go on every day that you never hear about,” Whitehead said of the school. “The survivors are never heard from and the guilty are never punished, they live to a ripe old age while their victims are damaged for life. It seemed like a story worth taking up.” The Nickel Boys will be published next summer by Doubleday.

    The National Book Foundation announced the finalists for this year’s National Book Award yesterday. Nominees include Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend, Jeffrey C. Stewart’s The New Negro, and Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights. Winners will be announced in November.

    A new study finds that heavy Twitter use may be affecting journalists’ judgement of what is newsworthy.

    Teen Vogue has hired Lindsay Peoples Wagner as its next editor in chief. Peoples Wagner was most recently fashion editor for The Cut and New York magazine.

    “How do we think about the fact that so many boldface names in publishing and literature are female, that feminist reworkings of ancient myths constitute an industry trend, that spiky, honest meditations on motherhood make for another trend—and, still, we live in a world that hates women?” asks Katy Waldman at the New Yorker.

  • October 10, 2018

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    The Guardian’s Alison Flood reports from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s acceptance lecture for the PEN Pinter prize yesterday. “Art can illuminate politics. Art can humanise politics. Art can shine the light towards truth. But sometimes that is not enough,” she said. “Sometimes politics must be engaged with as politics. And this could not be any truer or more urgent today. . . . We must know what is true. And we must call a lie a lie.”

    Maggie Gyllenhaal is writing, producing, and directing a movie based on Elena Ferrante’s The Lost Daughter. Gyllenhaal says she spent a “few weeks” writing a letter to Ferrante about possibly adapting the book into a film. “She came back and said, ‘You can have the rights, but you have to direct it. I’m only giving the rights to you to direct.’”

    In the New York Times Magazine, Angela Flournoy profiles director Barry Jenkins, who is currently working on a movie adaptation of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk.

    Vulture has ranked all twenty-two of Haruki Murakami’s books that have been published in the US.

    Tana French talks to CrimeReads about gaslighting, whether women writing crime fiction is a feminist act, and her new book, The Witch Elm. “A lot of the books I’ve seen described as ‘feminist’ seem to me to be about universal issues, dealt with through the experience of female characters. If I define that as intrinsically feminist, I’m defining the character as first and foremost a woman, rather than a human being,” she said. “If a book deals with a universal issue from a male character’s standpoint, we assume that it says something to and about all humanity; his gender only becomes a defining element of the discussion if he’s dealing with something that’s heavily male-specific.”

  • October 9, 2018

    Barbara Kingsolver. Photo: Annie Griffiths

    At The Guardian, Lidija Haas talks to Barbara Kingsolver about conflict, the end times, and her new book, Unsheltered. “What do people do when it feels like they’re living through the end of the world as we know it? Because that’s what it seems like we’re doing right now, and almost nobody disagrees,” Kingsolver said. “And maybe people said that 10 years ago, but now they’re really saying ‘WTF?’”

    Alexandra Alter explores why women are channeling their anger and anxiety over the current political moment into writing dystopian fiction. “I felt like I didn’t need to invent a disaster, because there was already a disaster happening,” said The Water Cure author Sophie Mackintosh, whose Man Booker-nominated novel imagines “if masculinity were literally toxic.”

    Former White House communications director Hope Hicks will join New Fox as head of corporate communications after 21st Century Fox finalizes its sale to Disney next year.

    “At a certain point, when certain kinds of stories in our current moment, one has to ask oneself whether the access is helpful to the story or hurts the story,” Vanity Fair editor Radhika Jones told Recode. “Does having access to Donald Trump get you closer to the truth about Donald Trump? Or is the write-around really the way to get at the truth about him?”

    New York Times Book Review editors Pamela Paul, Gregory Cowles, and Barry Gewen explain how the section minimizes conflicts of interest in its reviews. “The hardest reviewers to find are those who are intellectually honest and independent,” Paul said. “In the current polarized environment, it’s particularly difficult to find people who are willing to let go of their agenda and assess a book on its merits. That’s what makes it a book review, not an Op-Ed.”

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