• October 4, 2018

    New York Times opinion columnist Bari Weiss has signed a book deal. The New Seven Dirty Words will take “a deep look at our new culture of censorship and censoriousness and makes the case for reviving the virtues that are essential for an open society.” The book will be published by Henry Holt in 2020.

    New York Times deputy Metro editor Amy Virshup is taking over as the paper’s travel editor.

    Caitriona Lally

    The Washington Post reports on Caitriona Lally, who just won the Rooney Prize for literature from Trinity College Dublin. Lally, who also works at the college as a janitor, was surprised when she got the news that her book, Eggshells, had won the coveted award: “At that moment, I couldn’t figure out what a Rooney was.”    

    Wesley Morris argues that culture is now judged more for its correctness than its quality: “The real-world and social-media combat we’ve been in for the past two years over what kind of country this is—who gets to live in it and bemoan (or endorse!) how it’s being run—have now shown up in our beefs over culture.”

    Rumaan Alam profiles Diane Williams, the short-story writer and editor of NOON, who has a comprehensive new collection of work coming out. Williams is reluctant to explain her stories, which are often no more than a couple pages long, telling Alam: ““I’m not willfully trying to be obscure or difficult. Maybe I also am. At the moment I said it, I thought, ‘Is that a lie?’ So there’s something to think about.”

    The Atlantic reports on Ross Goodwin, a writer who has created an artificial-intelligence machine that generates poetry, screenplays, and is now in the process of “writing” a travel novel. Goodwin is driving from New York to New Orleans with the computer, a laptop with a receipt printer attached. As Brian Merchant reports, “Along the way, the four sensors—the camera, the GPS, the microphone, and the computer’s internal clock—would feed data into a system of neural networks Goodwin had trained on hundreds of books and Foursquare location data, and the printer would spit out the results one letter at a time. By the end of the four-day trip, receipts emblazoned with artificially intelligent prose would cover the floor of the car.”

  • October 3, 2018

    Nicole Chung. Photo: Erica B. Tappis

    Victoria Namkung talks to Nicole Chung about transracial adoption, motherhood, and her new book, All You Can Ever Know. “Even though it wasn’t the whole truth, I was so comforted and so attached to this origin story I was given. I remember how difficult it was to start challenging that in my own head and reconsidering my own adoption story,” Chung said. “The story I had was never enough and I’ve just been telling it ever since, mostly within my family and to my kids, and now it’s changing with this book about to be out there.”

    The Washington Post has relaunched its magazine.

    GQ’s Joel Pavelski details the newfound expectation that political print journalists be camera-ready. “Journalists from old-guard print publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post who once toiled in relative obscurity—working the phones and appearing in public mostly through their bylines or Twitter profile pictures—have vaulted to nationwide prominence as on-call talking heads for networks like CNN and MSNBC,” he writes.

    “When Republicans say ‘elite,’ they don’t mean ‘rich.’ They love rich people. They mean ‘smart,’” Fran Lebowitz tells The Believer. “There has always been a real strain of anti-intellectualism in this country, but I’m not even talking about intellectualism. I’m talking about normal intelligence and lack of ignorance.”

    Rebecca Traister lists the books she read while writing Good and Mad.

    Who in the world is only waking up to their anger now?” asks Jessa Crispin as she reviews two recent books on women’s anger. “I wonder how long we’re going to have books like this for women, books in which we sing only a song of our own oppression and tell ourselves we are special and brave for having suffered for so long.”

  • October 2, 2018

    Former ESPN broadcaster Jemele Hill is joining The Atlantic as a staff writer. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Hill addressed her departure from the sports network, social media, and being a black journalist in the sports world. “Mike (Smith) and I specifically were called political, way before any of the Trump stuff ever happened,” Hill recalled of her experience hosting SportsCenter with Smith. “And I always thought that was a very interesting label, because frankly, I think that most of the time it was said because we were the two black people.”

    Myriam Gurba. Photo: David Naz

    A Stockholm district court has sentenced Jean-Claude Arnault, whose sexual misconduct led to the postponement of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, to two years in prison after he was convicted of rape.

    Anne Elizabeth Moore has been hired as the new editor in chief of the Chicago Reader.

    At The Guardian Ben Fountain and Malcolm Gladwell discuss Trump, vulnerability, and Fountain’s new book, Beautiful Country Burn Again.

    At The Believer, Nikki Darling talks to Myriam Gurba about whiteness, sexual violence, and trauma in her book, Mean. “It was important for me to write a narrative about trauma as an unlikable narrator. I wanted not to include unlikable victims or survivors, per se, but victims and survivors . . . who are more ‘fully human,’ as opposed to angelic, creatures,” she said of the women who’s stories of sexual assault and trauma are included in her book. “I frequently emphasize my meanness and my pettiness and my bitchiness throughout the narrative, almost to sort of challenge the reader. Did I deserve this even though I’m a fucking bitch? No, of course not. And did it correct my bitchiness? No. I’m still a fucking bitch.”

    Tonight at the New York Public Library, Aminatou Sow talks to Rebecca Traister about her new book, Good and Mad.

  • October 1, 2018

    deborah eisenberg

    Deborah Eisenberg

    Sarah Hepola, the author of the memoir Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, considers Brett Kavanaugh’s claim during his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week that he has never blacked out from drinking (Hepola calls Kavanaugh’s claim that he has “gone to sleep” after drinking a “semantic dodge”). She also delves into a memoir by Mark Judge, whom Christine Blasey Ford says attacked her with Kavanaugh. In Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk (which is reportedly extremely hard to find), Judge describes the behavior that led him to get sober, including “a wedding rehearsal dinner where he got so blasted he doesn’t remember the evening’s end. A friend informs him the next day that he tried to take off his clothes and ‘make it’ with a bridesmaid. Mr. Judge’s response cuts me. ‘Please tell me I didn’t hurt her,’ he said.”

    At Politico, Bill Scher reads Stormy Daniels’s new memoir Full Disclosure, and compares it with other memoirs about alleged presidential mistresses, from Nan Britton’s The President’s Daughter (about Warren Harding) to Gennifer Flowers’s Passion and Betrayal.

    Literary scholar Peter Conrad looks at how Shakespeare’s plays offer insight into the age of Trump and Brexit.

    Farrar, Straus and Giroux’s Eric Chinski has purchased the North American rights to Leah Redmond Chang’s Young Queens, a novel about four royals of the Renaissance: Catherine de Medici, Mary Stuart, Elizabeth Tudor, and Elisabeth de Valois.

    Giles Harvey profiles Deborah Eisenberg, the magnificent story writer and “chronicler of American insanity.”

  • 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.”