• March 15, 2019

    The National Book Critics Circle has announced its 2018 awards. Among the winners are Anna Burns (fiction) for Milkman, Steve Coll (nonfiction) for Directorate S, Zadie Smith (criticism) for Feel Free, and Ada Limon (poetry) for The Carrying. Maureen Corrigan of NPR’s Fresh Air took home the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, and Arte Público Press, the largest publisher of Hispanic literature in the US, was presented with the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

    David Haskell. Photo: Marvin Orellana

    At the Columbia Journalism Review, a podcast featuring Adam Moss, the soon-to-be-former editor of New York magazine, in conversation with David Haskell, a deputy editor at the publication who will be taking over for Moss on April 1st.

    The American Society for Magazine Editors (ASME) announced their national magazine awards last night, with the New Yorker taking home four “Ellies,” and Moss receiving a Hall of Fame Award.

    The Washington Post talks to Madeline Peltz, the twenty-four-year-old employee at Media Matters for America, who recently unearthed Tucker Carlson’s misogynistic, racist, and homophobic remarks on a radio show hosted by Florida shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge. In response to Carlson’s assertion that he is the target of a powerful conspiracy, Peltz says: “I’m not like some high-power-wielding globalist. I’m this kid who’s been on the Internet my whole life and knows how to get around it.”

    Next week, Books Are Magic is hosting the NYRB book club, where participants will be discussing The Pure and the Impure by Colette.

  • March 14, 2019

    Olga Tokarczuk

    The longlist for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize has been announced. Nominees include Annie Ernaux’s The Years, Can Xue’s Love in the New Millennium, Samanta Schweblin’s Mouthful of Birds, and Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. The shortlist will be announced in April, and the winner revealed in May.

    Alicia Keys is writing a memoir. More Myself will be published by Oprah Winfrey’s Flatiron Books imprint, An Oprah Book, in November.

    The winners of this year’s Windham-Campbell Prizes have been announced. Honorees include Rebecca Solnit, Danielle McLaughlin, and Kwame Dawes.

    Lit Hub’s Emily Temple looks into “what exactly turns a writer into a millionaire.”

    Podcasting startup Gimlet Media is unionizing under the Writers Guild of America, East.

    At Columbia Journalism Review, Meredith McCarroll reflects on Appalachia, J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, and who speaks for a region. The film rights to Vance’s book were recently sold to Netflix, with Ron Howard attached to direct. “Can that $45 million draw critical attention to the region,” she asks of the deal, “or will it deflect aid and endorse a narrative of exceptionalism?”

    The Millions founder C. Max Magee details the evolution of the literary website, from a small personal project to a magazine that employs thirty part-time staff. “When it comes to running an online magazine, a lot has changed since 2003. There are things we were able to do in the first ten years that are no longer possible,” he writes. “But more might be possible than the conventional wisdom about online publishing would have you believe.”

  • March 13, 2019

    At Popula, Mik Awake reflects on the inherent disappointment of “owning many books.” After finally purchasing his own copy of The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, a book that he had checked out from his high school library over and over, Awake writes that he instantly felt he had made a mistake. “Owning it could not recapture the electricity of that reading experience, nor deepen my personal claim,” he writes. “Instead of my past, these books only conjure visions of the inevitable future, of the day when I will be dead, and someone else is burdened with the task of executing my will and dismantling the fortress of books separating my body from the world.”

    Namwali Serpell. Photo: Peg Korpinski

    “Stories are one of our oldest technologies. They let us have vivid experiences — beautiful, moving ones, but also horrifying, dark ones — and then close the book, or the laptop, unscathed,” writes The Old Drift author Namwali Serpell on the predictive powers of science fiction. “They give us a kind of perverse pleasure in reverse: not of seeing the worst come true, but of seeing the worst without it coming true.”

    At Granta, Alan Trotter and Daisy Johnson discuss tension, storytelling, and their new books.

    Kathryn Davis, John Lanchester, T Kira Madden, Namwali Serpell, and Bryan Washington all participate in Lit Hub’s monthly questionnaire. If Lanchester weren’t a writer, he would like to be a “constitutional monarch of a rich, stable democracy with strong privacy laws,” while Madden would design “magic tricks and stage illusions.”

    Simon & Schuster is publishing Howard Stern’s first book in over two decades. “F*#k Hemingway!” Stern said in a statement about Come Again, which hits shelves in May. “I put my heart and soul into this book and could not be more proud of it.”

  • March 12, 2019

    Joni Mitchell

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is publishing Joni Mitchell’s book of poems, lyrics, and watercolors. Originally written in 1971, Mitchell published only one hundred hand-made copies of Morning Glory on the Vine for her friends. The new edition will be published in October.

    The Marshall Plan author Been Steil has won this year’s New-York Historical Society’s Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize.

    Layoffs have hit New York Media, with sixteen full-time employees and another sixteen freelance staff being let go.

    Columbia Journalism Review’s David Uberti examines BuzzFeed’s “digital media meltdown” and the future of the company after recent layoffs and unionizing. “The question now,” he writes, “is whether the money-making part of BuzzFeed can carry out [Jonah] Peretti’s vision, and keep news going, as he navigates what’s starting to feel less like a golden age and more like quicksand.”

    The Guardian reports that in the last two years, political book sales have doubled. Although “many of last year’s strong sellers dealt with Donald Trump . . . readers were also seeking more classic fare” like Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto and George Orwell’s Notes on Nationalism.

  • March 11, 2019

    Margo Jefferson

    Margo Jefferson

    Elton John, who is currently on what he says will be his final tour, has announced that he has finished his autobiography, which will be published on October 15. According to John, “My life has been one helluva roller coaster ride and I’m now ready to tell you my story, in my own words.” Henry Holt, the musician’s publisher, is calling the book “no holds barred.”

    At The Cut, Anna Sillman interviews the Pulitzer-winning critic Margo Jefferson, who in 2006 released the critical study On Michael Jackson. Now that she’s seen the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, she has this to say about her critical work about the pop star: “When I think back on my book, I certainly say he’s very damaged and that he clearly can’t quite distinguish between adult and childhood behavior, and that it is all strange. I think what’s missing is my saying in that last chapter: ‘alright, what if he is guilty? Where do we start, what do we think next? Where do our thoughts and feelings go?’” She is currently writing a new introduction for some editions of the book. “It’s difficult because it’s all painful. It’s all excruciating.”

    “Is it time to get rid of the Nobel prize in literature?” wonders Carrie V Mullins at Electric Literature. “At minimum, after 124 years it’s worth reconsidering what it’s adding to the cultural landscape.”

    “I teach creative writing and I think it’s not like making a souffle; you can’t give anyone the steps to follow,” says Bowlaway author Elizabeth McCracken. “It can’t be taught in the way life drawing can. But you can teach people how to notice what the work they admire is doing, and to sit around a table and look at their writing and how to make it achieve what it wants to achieve.”

    According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, nearly one in five Americans now listen to audiobooks, but print books remain more popular than ebooks and audiobooks.

    Gillian Freeman—who wrote novels, screenplays, and scenarios for ballets—has died at age eighty-nine. Her novels included The Leather Boys, and her work, says the New York Times, “dealt with social and sexual distress, in this case a relationship between a middle-class teacher and a sailor of nebulous sexuality.”

  • March 8, 2019

    Akwaeke Emezi. Photo: Elizabeth Wirija

    Lambda Literary has announced the finalists for this year’s Lammy awards. Nominees include Sarah Schulman’s Maggie Terry, Édouard Louis’s History of Violence, and Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater. Winners will be announced at a ceremony in June.

    The Paris Review has announced the winners of this year’s Plimpton and Terry Southern Prizes. Kelli Jo Ford has won the Plimpton Prize for her story “Hybrid Vigor,” and Benjamin Nugent has won the Terry Southern Prize for his story “Safe Spaces.” The awards will be presented at the magazine’s Spring Revel in April.

    The 2019 Bancroft prize has been awarded to David W. Blight’s Frederick Douglass, Prophet of Freedom and Lisa Brooks’s Our Beloved Kin.

    At Recode, Kara Swisher talks to Laurene Powell Jobs about nonprofit media, journalism as a civic institution, and the future of print.

    “When it comes to journalism, Facebook’s reorientation seems to take it even further away from being the kind of public distribution outlet many media companies have come to rely on,” writes Columbia Journalism Review’s Mathew Ingram on Facebook’s new pivot toward private messaging. “Although the fruit Facebook offered to publishers may have been poisoned, the reach—and, in some cases, ad revenue—it provided has become a staple of many media business models.”


  • March 7, 2019

    Jessica Hopper. Photo: David Sampson

    Slate has chosen longtime New York magazine editor Jared Hohlt as the website’s new editor in chief. Hohlt had previously worked at Slate as an editorial assistant at the beginning of his career. “It was a journalistic training ground for me,” he told the New York Times. “I’ve been living on a biweekly rhythm for a long time now and I’m excited for a whole new rhythm to work with.”

    Jessica Hopper has sold a new book to Farrar, Straus and Giroux. No God But Herself: How Women Changed Music in 1975 will be “a feminist corrective to the music industry’s oversight of the women who shaped the music of the late last century,” including Joni Mitchell, Chaka Khan, Labelle, and more. The book is expected to be published in 2021.

    Journalist Noah Hurowitz is working on a book about Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera that explores “his impact on Mexican organized crime and the American drug trade in the era of the opioid crisis” for Atria.

    “To be a writer in America today means living a life for which there’s not really a pattern, which is part of why along with the accomplishment and pride you feel today you may be feeling a bit of anxiety, too,” writes Garth Greenwell in a reflection on the writer’s life. “The hours we spend writing may be full of exhilaration or dissatisfaction or uncertainty, probably they’re full of all of those things, but they are hours we spend alone.”

    Netflix is developing a series based on Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. While some of his other books have been adapted for the screen, García Márquez had resisted selling the rights to One Hundred Years of Solitude because of his skepticism that it could be translated to the screen and his insistence that any adaptation be in Spanish. “In the last three or four years, the level and prestige and success of series and limited series has grown so much,”García Márquez’s son Rodrigo García explained to the Times of the family’s decision to sell the rights. “Netflix was among the first to prove that people are more willing than ever to see series that are produced in foreign languages with subtitles. All that seems to be a problem that is no longer a problem.”

  • March 6, 2019

    There will be two Nobel Prizes in Literature awarded this October, the New York Times reports. Last year’s prize was cancelled due to “a scandal involving sexual abuse, accusations of financial wrongdoing and hints of a cover-up” within the Swedish Academy.

    Richard Powers

    The finalists for this year’s PEN/Faulkner Award have been announced. Nominees include Richard Powers’s The Oberstory, Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s Call Me Zebra, and Blanche McCrary Boyd’s Tomb of the Unknown Racist. The winner will be announced in April.

    Blockchain journalism start-up Civil is relaunching its token sale today. Poynter’s Rick Edmonds explains how the project works and wonders why the company can’t just use “something a little more straightforward—like money?”

    The Who’s Pete Townshend is writing a novel. The Age of Anxiety, an “extended meditation on manic genius and the dark art of creativity” that will be combined with an opera and art installation, will be published in November by UK publisher Coronet.

    Rapper Rick Ross is working on a memoir. Hurricanes, to be published this fall by Hanover Square Press, will detail Ross’s “coming of age in Miami and his rise to fame.”

    At Longreads, Michael Musto reflects on the “problem with nostalgia.”

  • March 5, 2019

    Akwaeke Emezi. Photo: Elizabeth Wirija

    The longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction has been announced. Nominees include Anna Burns’s Milkman, Tayari Jones’s An American Marriage, Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive, and Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater.

    A federal judge ruled last week that Stephen Elliott cannot sue Shitty Media Men list creator Moira Donegan for emotional distress, but that he can continue with his defamation suit.

    Former British Vogue editor Emily Sheffield is developing “a news startup based around Instagram stories.” The project, #ThisMuchIKnow, is funded by The Guardian’s venture capital fund, BuzzFeed News reports.

    Elle profiles New Yorker writer and Dark Money author Jane Mayer.

    The New York Times examines how (and which) books make it from the publisher to the shelves of the New York Public Library.

    At BOMB, Lincoln Michel talks to Trump Sky Alpha author Mark Doten about memes, the apocalypse, and trying to capture Trump’s speech patterns in writing. “Trump will always outstrip anything that any impressionists or fiction writer will attempt to do with him,” Doten said. “He creates these impossibly strange formulations that are always astonishing—like when he tweeted about the things he had done before the inauguration being ‘very legal and very cool.’ It’s an absolutely wild thing to say about possibly colluding with Russia or whatever he was referring to.”

  • March 4, 2019

    Rowan Phillips best sportswriting

    Rowan Ricardo Phillips

    Rowan Ricardo Phillips, a poet and the author of The Circuit: A Tennis Odyssey, has won the 2019 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing.

    Philip Roth’s Upper West Side apartment just went on the market for $3.2 million.

    At the New Republic, Josephine Livingstone writes about James Lasdun’s new novel Afternoon of a Faun, and wonders: “Can a man write a great #MeToo novel?

    Electric Lit has interviewed George Saunders about his experiences of contributing to the New Yorker. At first, he says, he didn’t know what he was doing: “They sent me a really nice rejection. I was such an idiot that I didn’t know it was kind of an invitation to rewrite the ending of the story, so I just sort of rejected their semi-acceptance.” But he eventually was published there, and has contributed to the magazine for decades now, all the while honing his approach. The author recalls a breakthrough he had while writing “Sea Oak”: “It was the first time I realized that if you’re writing a good story, it rebels a little bit, and it rebels mostly against your early and too-simplistic version of it.”

    This week, Henry Holt paid a reported six figures for New York Times correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Gettleman’s The Mission. The book will tell the story American missionary John Allen Chau, who recently traveled to a remote island in the Indian Ocean, hoping to convert the inhabitants to Christianity, but instead was killed. The publisher has compared Gettleman’s book, due out in 2021, to John Krakauer’s Into the Wild and David Grann’s The Lost City of Z.