• March 15, 2018

    Harper Lee’s estate has filed a lawsuit against Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, the New York Times reports. Although the contracts for the play were signed in 2015 before Lee’s death the following year, her estate’s lawyer filed the challenge after reading a draft of the script last fall. According to the Times, “a chief dispute in the complaint is the assertion that Mr. Sorkin’s portrayal of the much beloved Atticus Finch, the crusading lawyer who represents a black man unjustly accused of rape, presents him as a man who begins the drama as a naïve apologist for the racial status quo, a depiction at odds with his purely heroic image in the novel.”

    Kristen Roupenian. Photo: Elisa Roupenian Toha

    Hotel Rwanda director Terry George has bought the screen rights to Deborah Campbell’s A Disappearance in Damascus.

    At The Guardian, Chris Power looks into the myth of the “short story renaissance,” an event that seems to occur almost annually. From the New York Times to the Daily Telegraph, Power cites examples of the yearly heralding of the short story form. “All these restorations took place after ‘decades of neglect,’ he notes. “But how can the short story ever have time to wither, given the frequency of its rebirth?”

    Literary Hub has a new book-based advice column. In “Dear Book Therapist,” novelist and social worker Rosalie Knecht recommends Lynda Barry’s One! Hundred! Demons! to a reader trying to turn off “the inner voice that tells a creative person that they’re an idiot and their work is trash,” and counsels a wannabe-writer too afraid to publish their work to read Tom Hiney’s biography of Raymond Chandler, “which is a valuable lesson on the fact that success does not make happiness, although it can take the edge of misery.”

    Elon Musk offers more information about his rumored media venture. In two tweets, Musk divulged that the name of his “new intergalactic media empire” will be “Thud!” (“exclamation point optional”).

  • March 14, 2018

    Alan Hollinghurst. Photo: Larry D. Moore

    The New York Times talks to Alan Hollinghurst about Englishness, chronicling gay history through fiction, and why he prefers to write about the past rather than the modern era. “Contemporary life doesn’t suggest stories to me in quite the same way as the past,” he explained. “Contemporary life doesn’t have the things I find most interesting. . . . Secrecy, concealment, danger.”

    St. Martin’s Press has bought the rights to Pope Francis’s book. A Future of Faith: The Path of Change in Politics and Society will be published in August.

    Richard Flanagan’s Man Booker–winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North is being adapted for television.

    The Times suggests a few books for outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to read now that he “has some free time,” including Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices and George P. Schulz’s Turmoil and Triumph.

    Shakespeare and Company will open two stores in New York this year, one in Greenwich Village and another on the Upper West Side.

    Gizmodo looks at Project Veritas’s ongoing exposé of the tech world’s perceived liberal bias and examines the many ways in which they exploited the “ecosystem of connection and trust to wage its year-long investigation, turning the tools that Silicon Valley created against it.”

    Elon Musk is funding a new comedy venture staffed with former employees of The Onion, the Daily Beast reports. Former editors Cole Bolton and Ben Berkley did not offer details, but confirmed that they “have learned nothing from prevailing trends in media and are launching a brand-new comedy project.”

  • March 13, 2018

    The longlist for the Man Booker International prize has been announced. The list includes two former winners of the award: Han Kang, who won in 2016, is nominated this year for The White Book; and László Krasznahorkai, who won in 2015, is being considered again for The World Goes On. The longlist also includes Jenny Erpenbeck, Antonio Muñoz Molina, and Virginie Despentes among the thirteen nominees. The short list will be released on April 12, with the winner to be announced on May 22.    

    Apple has purchased Texture, a digital magazine subscription service. At the SXSW conference, Apple executive Eddy Cue talked about the acquisition and Apple’s plans for future media ventures.

    Nancy Dubuc

    A&E Networks executive Nancy Dubuc is in talks to take over as Vice Media’s CEO, replacing Vice co-founder Shane Smith.  

    The paperback release of Sherman Alexie’s memoir You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is being delayed indefinitely by its publisher, Hachette, in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against the author. Hachette said the postponement was made at the request of the author and released a statement: “We were surprised and troubled to hear the allegations that have recently emerged, and are concerned about the distress this situation has caused so many. . . . We’re encouraged that Sherman Alexie has apologized to those he has hurt and has dedicated himself, as he’s said, to becoming ‘a healthier man who makes healthier decisions.”  

    Tonight, Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn is hosting a reading and panel discussion for Go Home: New Voices on the Asian Diaspora, which is being published today by the Feminist Press in collaboration with the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. At tonight’s event, Chaya Babu, Gaiutra Bahadur, Kimiko Hahn, Alice Sola Kim, and Jason Koo will read and discuss their work with the anthology’s editor Rowan Hisayo Buchanan.

  • March 12, 2018

    Junot Diaz Islandborn

    Junot Diaz

    Junot Diaz says he wrote his new illustrated children’s book, Islandborn, for his goddaughters, who were, like the charcters in the book, born in the Dominican Republic and now live in the Bronx. “If kids of color can read about white characters in children’s books all day, the only thing preventing the reverse is a malign set of racial policies,” Diaz tells the Washington Post. “The white default is, in some ways, the cornerstone of white supremacy. It’s not some innocent issue.”

    At The Paris Review, poet and critic Stephanie Burt writes a letter to the future readers of Lucie Brock-Broido (Stay, Illusion), who died last week. “Just to read the poetry is to see—in its hypermetric lines, its cliff-face line breaks, its ‘gathering / Of foxes oddly standing still in the milk broth of oblivion’—how there was more to her and more in the poetry, more to consider (before reflecting) beautiful, and more to gather into the self for reflection than most poets, and most poetry, have in store.”

    Murmrr—the Brooklyn reading series that has brought us events featuring Dana Spiotta, George Saunders, Sheila Heti, and Chris Kraus—is selling tickets for its upcoming event with musician and author Nick Cave, who will engage in a discussion with the audience.

    According to Publishers Weekly, feminist bookstores are thriving in the Trump presidency.

    Ex-Navy Seal Will Mackin talks about his debut story collection, Bring Out the Dog. “The idea for this particular book came out of the sensory details of the wars. When I was deploying with a SEAL team in Iraq and Afghanistan, our mission was night raids, and we wore night vision. There was a disconnect between the actual image and the image I was seeing in the goggles, and in some of the transmission—I could hear the guy next to me speaking on the radio, and a few seconds later I’d hear his voice in my head on delay. The voice would sound different but all the words were the same.”

  • March 9, 2018

    Mitzi Angel. Photo: Oliver Holms

    Farrar, Straus and Giroux has appointed Faber & Faber publisher Mitzi Angel as its publisher. Angel will take over later this year for longtime publisher Jonathan Galassi, who will stay on as president and continue to acquire and edit books. “There’s that great line from ‘The Leopard’ where one of the characters says, ‘If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change,’” Galassi said of the decision. “Publishing has changed radically in the last 15 years, and we need to hold to the core of what we’re doing, but change what we’re publishing and how we publish.”

    Wendell Steavenson explains why she switched to novels.“I always wanted to write fiction, and though journalism wasn’t a detour, the first intention was always to write good stories.”

    Romance writers reflect on how the 2016 election changed their genre.

    At the Washington Post, Michael Lindgren looks at the nominees for the National Book Critics Circle’s criticism award, which “include no work by a white man.” Winners will be announced next week.

    Entertainment Weekly talks to Jhumpa Lahiri about her work translating Italian writer Domenico Starnone into English. The two met in Rome when Lahiri was living in the same apartment building as some of his relatives, which has made the translation process even more collaborative. “He’s my friend, and so I ask him stuff,” she explained. “If I’m here, I text him; if I’m in Rome, I go over to his house and bring my notebook and say ‘What about this word, what about that word, what did you mean by this?’”


  • March 8, 2018

    The Paris Review has announced the winners of the 2018 Plimpton and Terry Southern Prizes. Isabella Hammad, author of the short story “Mr. Can’aan,” has won the Plimpton Prize for Fiction and David Sedaris has won the Terry Southern Prize for Humor. Both writers will be honored in April alongside Hadada winner Joy Williams.

    Mary Gaitskill

    Mary Gaitskill says she plans to write about #MeToo in the form of fiction. “I can’t come up with a straight opinion about [the #MeToo movement],” she said. “I would prefer to write a story about it.”

    Simon & Schuster publisher Jonathan Karp has been promoted to president and publisher of the company’s adult publishing division.

    Blackrock Productions has bought the screen rights to Ryan Holiday’s Conspiracy. The company is currently deciding whether to develop the project for film or TV.

    Peter Thiel claims that he is only wants to buy Gawker in order to get Hulk Hogan money that he is still owed from the trial, and that he has no interest in taking the site offline. “I don’t want the archives,” he said. “I don’t think it makes sense to destroy them. Preserve them, study them instead.”

    The New York Times’s Farhad Manjoo reflects on the two months he spent getting his news from print newspapers alone, something he feels was “life changing.” “Turning off the buzzing breaking-news machine I carry in my pocket was like unshackling myself from a monster who had me on speed dial, always ready to break into my day with half-baked bulletins,” he writes. In the end, he came to a Michael Pollan–style revelation: “Get news. Not too quickly. Avoid social.”

  • March 7, 2018

    Jann Wenner. Photo: Albert Chau

    Joe Pompeo looks at Jay Penske’s plan for remaking Rolling Stone, which includes both Wenners staying on at the magazine. Pompeo asked Jann Wenner biographer Joe Hagan whether keeping the elder Wenner around will help or hurt the magazine. “I’ve always doubted the future of Rolling Stone without Jann Wenner,” Hagan said. “Someone like him has to ask whether the legacy is a burden more than an asset. Can you hit the reset and make Rolling Stone into a thing that feels vital again, for people who have never listened to the Eagles, or don’t even know who they are?”

    John A. Farrell has won the New-York Historical Society’s Barbara and David Salaznick Book Prize for Richard Nixon: The Life.

    The New York Times profiles Phillip Picardi, the chief content officer of Teen Vogue and Them.

    Members of Congress have written to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in an effort to get Al Jazeera to register as a foreign agent.

    At the New Republic, Alex Shephard talks to Conspiracy author Ryan Holiday about Gawker, gossip, and the Silicon Valley ethos. “These guys are apex predators amongst the apex predators and no one gets there being nice,” Holiday said of tech-world leaders. “You don’t become Elon Musk if you don’t have to win all the time and you don’t exert your will. That’s why they all love Ayn Rand!”

    Tonight at NYU, Jed Purdy, the author of Tolerable Anarchy and other books, will give a lecture titled “This Land Is Our Land: Nature and Nationalism in the Age of Trump.” Among the questions he will raise: “How does denial of climate change hold together various other denials—of interdependence, ecological limits, and global justice? What images of the natural world, and the human place in it, are entangled in the politics of Donald Trump’s presidency and the nationalist right?”

  • March 6, 2018

    Ottessa Moshfegh

    In honor of Women’s History Month, New York Times book critics compile a reading list of novels by women, and discuss ”writers who are opening new realms to us, whose book suggest and embody unexplored possibilities in form, feeling and knowledge.” From Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels to Ottessa Moshfegh’s Homesick for Another World, “each book’s utterly distinct style emerges as its women try to invent a language for their lives.”

    Attn is partnering with Showtime to create a 60 Minutes–style news program. The half-hour show will “bring a youthful, provocative perspective to coverage of politics, socio-economics and other societal issues, and fresh stories, to the network’s premium television audience.”

    At the Times, Patrick Healy has been been hired as politics editor. Healy most recently served as the paper’s culture editor.

    Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon are adapting Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere into a limited series.

    Mary Beard talks to the Los Angeles Review of Books about her latest book, Women and Power: A Manifesto, and what she thinks about the #MeToo movement. “I think that it’s a very good idea for women to speak up for women,” she said. “All the same, I want women to be heard talking about anything and everything, not just about the difficulty of being women, however important that is. Look, for example, at the general governmental and parliamentary roles of women, and in a way, you could say, ‘Well, the United Kingdom has had two female prime ministers,’ and that’s true. But it’s never had a female chancellor of the Exchequer.”

    Tonight at the Brooklyn Historical Society, Lenny Letter’s Jessica Grose and Jezebel’s Koa Beck discuss the future of feminism.

  • March 5, 2018

    Jennifer Egan PEN

    Jennifer Egan

    Pulitzer-winning novelist Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad) has been named the new president of PEN America, the writers organization devoted to freedom of expression and human rights worldwide. She follows Andrew Solomon, who ran PEN for three years. “The power and meaning of the written word are central to the complexities we face today—both as a nation, and globally,’’ Egan says. “To my mind, freedom of expression is a basic human right. I’m honored to uphold and act as a steward of this right, and of PEN America’s mission.”

    The Rumpus has posted its guide to the “literary madness” known as the AWP conference, which starts on Wednesday in Tampa and will host more than 12,000 writers, editors, and publishers.

    Book critic James Wood has written a second novel, Upstate, which will be released by FSG this June. Over the years, Wood has written some lively critiques of novelists such as Richard Powers and Donna Tartt. But as he tells The Guardian: “Sometimes I think I’ve lost my nerve. I’m not slaying people any more.”

    Many of the internationally best-selling thrillers are now coming out of Korea. “Interest in the country’s literature has boomed over the last decade, according to research by the Man Booker International prize, gathered after Korean author Han Kang won for her novel The Vegetarian. Sales of Korean books have increased from only 88 copies sold in the UK in 2001 to 10,191 in 2015, while the number of titles translated into English has doubled over the last five years, from 12 in 2013 to 24 in 2017.”

    Signature has an interview with Yemeni American coffee impresario Mokhtar Alkhanshali, the inspiration for Dave Eggers’s new book The Monk of Mokha.

  • March 2, 2018

    Ian Buruma

    Ian Buruma

    Ian Buruma, editor of the New York Review of Books and author of the new memoir A Tokyo Romance, talks to the New York Times’s By the Book section about travel writing, reading the classics, and the literary influences of his youth. “I was thrilled by Henry Miller, but perhaps not for entirely literary reasons. Another influence was John Cleland’s “Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure,” which I found on my father’s bookshelves. Again, literary merit was of secondary importance,” he said. “I recognize that it is unusual to get one’s sexual education from an 18th-century porn novel, but I didn’t have the benefit (or the curse) of the internet when I grew up, nor much opportunity to learn on the job, as it were.”

    Publishers Weekly reports that a growing number of people are denouncing novelist Sherman Alexie following anonymous claims made by women who say that Alexie has sexually harassed them: “Accusations against Alexie, which have been something of an open secret for weeks as journalists have scrambled to find sources willing to speak on the record about their experiences, reached a fever pitch on social media over the weekend.” Alexie has offered an apology: “To those whom I have hurt, I genuinely apologize.”

    According the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic and ABC News are among the possible buyers of FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s data-driven website and election-prediction machine.

    Greg Tate, author of Flyboy 2 (2016) and the forthcoming James Brown’s Body and the Revolution of the Mind, reminisces about the days when the Village Voice was still in print. “I had a guy change the lock to my apartment. . . . I wrote him a check and he said, ‘Oh, you’re Iron Man, I read you all the time.’ And it happened with bouncers. They’d see my I.D. and say, ‘Oh, you’re the cat that writes for The Voice,’” he remembers. “Everyone read The Voice then, clearly—locksmiths and bouncers included. It was a clue-in that it wasn’t just my family or friends.”

    Watch the first trailer for Sweetbitter, the Starz show based on Stephanie Danler’s bestselling novel.