• June 13, 2018

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has won the 2018 PEN Pinter Prize. “In this age of the privatised, marketised self, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the exception who defies the rule,” English PEN trustees chair Maureen Freely said of the author. “Sophisticated beyond measure in her understanding of gender, race, and global inequality, she guides us through the revolving doors of identity politics, liberating us all.” Adichie will receive the award in October, when she will also announce her choice for the 2018 International Writer of Courage.

    Amazon Studios has ordered a streaming series based on the New York Times’s Modern Love column. Written and directed by John Carney, the show “will explore love in its multitude of forms, including sexual, romantic, familial, platonic and self-love.”

    Julie Reynolds wonders why the Knight Foundation, a journalism organization that supports local news organizations, invested in Alden Global Capital’s Distressed Opportunities Fund, which was used to buy struggling newspapers and slash their budgets, from 2010 until 2014.

    After writing an article claiming that Penguin Random House UK’s plan to increase the diversity of its writers was “putting diversity ahead of literary excellence,” Lionel Shriver has been removed from the judging panel of Mslexia’s writing competition. In an open letter to Shriver, the inaugural cohort of the Penguin WriteNow program, which provides mentoring to writers from marginalized communities, detailed just how hard it is to be selected for such projects. Out of 2,000 applications each year, only twenty-three writers were selected. “In context: statistically you are much more likely to get into Oxford than onto a Penguin Random House mentoring scheme,” they explain. “Therefore it’s hardly the indiscriminate box-ticking process that Shriver so unimaginatively envisages.”

  • June 12, 2018

    Craigslist founder Craig Newmark has donated $20 million to the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, which will be renamed after him. “Sometimes rich people want to do fancy stuff in terms of endowments: Ivy League schools, the opera, the ballet,” Newmark said. “Me? I want to help out people who, much like me, really needed a hand. If you’re lucky enough to do well, then I feel the right thing is to give people a hand, and the best way for me to do that is to help out journalism.”

    Kamila Shamsie

    The Outline has laid off the editor and staff writer of its Power section. In a statement to Fast Company, editor in chief Joshua Topolsky claimed that he had “let go of two underperforming employees—the power section here is more than intact,” but later backtracked on his statement in a tweet.

    Home Fire author and Women’s Prize–winner Kamila Shamsie talks to The Guardian about immigration policy, living in London, and how it felt to have her book predict the future.

    A novelist can share a poet’s sensibility, precision, generosity, slant, view, broodiness, relationship with language, imagery, metaphor and the visual,” Caoilinn Hughes writes in her list of poets-turned-novelists at Granta. “But what about the novelists who are poets? Do their novels betray them as such?”

    New York magazine’s Reeves Wiedeman examines the history of VICE, and wonders if the company can make it through slow financial growth and allegations of widespread sexual misconduct. Though office culture has changed since the New York Times investigation, some staff loyalty still remains according to recently-hired senior vice-president Marsha Cooke. “In her first address to the staff,” Wiedeman reports, “Cooke said that she heard such pride in the organization that she half-expected the room to turn into a scene from Spartacus, with each of the company’s creatives standing up, one by one, shouting, ‘I am Vice!’”

    Tonight at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, Lauren Groff talks to Lisa Lucas about her new novel, Florida.

  • June 11, 2018

    Lara Prescott

    Lara Prescott

    Michael Wolff has reportedly signed a contract with Henry Holt to write a sequel to his bestselling portrait of the Trump Administration, Fire and Fury.

    Knopf has paid a reported $2 million for the North American rights to Lara Prescott’s debut novel, We Were Never Here. Prescott’s book is a fictional account of the making of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, a novel that was banned and suppressed in the Soviet Union, and that might never have become known to the world had it not been successfully smuggled out of the country and translated by the CIA.

    David Hadju, author of the critical study Positively Fourth Street (in part about Bob Dylan), has sold his first graphic book to Columbia University Press. According to Hadju’s agent, Chris Calhoun, Hadju’s A Revolution in Three Acts is “a historical story of three ‘wildly transgressive’ stars of the Vaudeville stage: Bert Williams, the African-American minstrel performer; Eva Tanguay, the ‘I Don’t Care’ girl; and Julian Eltinge, a female impersonator.”

    Remembering Anthony Bourdain: Here is his list of “39 books to ‘unfuck yourself.’” Also, Dreaming the Beatles author Rob Sheffield pays tribute to the notoriously prickly celebrity chef: “He made it easy for the rest of us to live vicariously through his adventures, because he seemed to have a boundless appetite for life.”

    The novelist and cultural critic Marian Warner—a novelist and critic who won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Stranger Magic, her study of the Arabian Nights—recently warned against what she sees as a new tendency to reward authors for being “virtuous.” “Striving to be good is not the same as good writing,” she stated in her presidential address at the Royal Society of Literature. “Engaging in fictive truth-telling is not the same as winning gold stars for conduct.”

    Tonight in New York, Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay will discuss the new anthology Not that Bad: Dispatches from the Rape Culture, which she edited, with Aja Monet, author of My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter. Tomorrow, Gay will discuss the book with contributor Ally Sheedy.

  • June 8, 2018

    Anthony Bourdain—who became famous with his bestselling memoir Kitchen Confidential, and went on to become the host of the CNN show Parts Unknown—has died

    In a staff memo, Reuters editor in chief Steve Adler outlined the tactics that journalists should use when reporting on Trump, based on the rules used by foreign correspondents in countries where “the media is unwelcome and frequently under attack.” “Do’s” include not worrying about official access, which was “never all that valuable anyway,” while “Dont’s” reminds reporters to not “take too dark a view of the reporting environment,” since “it’s an opportunity for us to practice the skills we’ve learned in much tougher places around the world.”

    Mary Beard

    For their reporting on Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment settlements, Times journalists Emily Steel and Mike Schmidt have won the 2018 Livingston Award.

    At BOMB, Marwan Hisham and Molly Crabapple talk to Alia Malek about Arabic poetry, secularism, and the difficulties of writing and publishing a book about Syria for a Western audience.

    Novelist Lydia Millet tells the New York Times’s By the Book column that she would want Dept. of Speculation author Jenny Offill to write her life story. “She’s strictly a fiction writer, which is actually a selling point, and she has a way of spinning the everyday into subtle gold. She could take the tawdry parts and make them seem almost tasteful, or at least forgivable, using nothing but her magic wand of words,” she said. “Also, she actually knows the tawdry parts, and you cannot have a juicy biography without those.”

    Moira Donegan talks to Women & Power author Mary Beard about misogyny, past and present. Beard says that the current debate about misogyny and sexism, as well as the reaction to it from opponents, is similar to the debate in ancient times. “Like Perseus and Medusa: decapitating women, silencing women, cutting women’s tongues out. There are things that are so resonant with now,” she said. “If you look at what Twitter trolls tend to say when they want to target a woman, they go back to those tropes about cutting tongues out, cutting your head off and raping it. And I’m pretty certain that many of them have not read Ovid.”

  • June 7, 2018

    Editorial staff of the New Yorker have unionized with NewsGuild of New York. New York magazine’s Noreen Malone reports that the group includes copy editors, fact checkers, assistant editors, design staff, and web producers. Malone notes that staff writers are excluded, as they are hired as independent contractors and not staff, an ironic twist that “would not escape the red pen of the magazine’s fact department.” Assistant editor McKenna Stayner said that magazine can not only afford to recognize the union, but that it would be against their professed values not to. “We run labor pieces, and for many of our writers, their system of beliefs is for workers’ rights,” she said. “With the certain kind of tone of moral authority we have taken on, it would be confusing for both readers and employees for there to be a lot of aggressive pressure against unionizing from New Yorker management.”

    Kamila Shamsie

    Fast Company staff are unionizing with Writers Guild of America East.

    In a letter on their website, Boston Review editors Deborah Chasman and Joshua Cohen explain why they have decided to keep Junot Díaz on as the magazine’s fiction editor after numerous women came forward with stories of misconduct. The editors write that during Díaz’s fifteen years on staff, there have been no complaints about his conduct in the workplace, and that they don’t believe the reported incidents “have the kind of severity that animated the #MeToo movement.” In response, Review poetry editors Timothy Donnelly, BK Fischer, and Stefania Heim have decided to resign.

    The Women’s Prize for Fiction has been awarded to Kamila Shamsie for her novel, Home Fire.

    Playwright and performance artist Lars Jan is adapting Joan Didion’s “The White Album” for the stage. The essay will be read by Mia Barron while performers “stage a house party mirroring the social turmoil of the period.” The work will debut at BAM later this fall.

    Daniel Radcliffe will co-star in the Broadway adaptation of John D’Agata and Jim Fingal’s The Lifespan of a Fact. Radcliff will play the role of Fingal, the fact checker who worked with D’Agata on an essay for The Believer.

    Tonight at Murmrr in Brooklyn, Tao Lin talks with Hamilton Morris about his new book, Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation and Change.

  • June 6, 2018

    General H. R. McMaster is the latest former member of the Trump administration to start shopping a book. BuzzFeed News reports that the erstwhile national security adviser is working with ICM agent Amanda Urban on his proposal.

    Wall Street Journal executive editor Matt Murray is taking over for Gerard Baker as the paper’s editor in chief. Baker will stay on as editor at large, a role that includes writing a regular weekend column and hosting a “WSJ-branded news and interview show on Fox Business News.”

    Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

    The Lambda Literary Award winners were announced this week. Roxane Gay won the Trustee Award, while Edmund White received the Visionary Award. Other winners include Carmen Maria Machado, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and Barbara Browning.

    Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman reports that Fox News is not profiting from its pro-Trump shows. “The pro-Trump thing isn’t working,” one employee told Sherman. “We can’t monetize DACA and the wall and that right-wing shit.”

    Women’s Wear Daily reports that Interview magazine, which recently declared bankruptcy, may relaunch soon under the control of Kelly Brant, the magazine’s president, and Jason Nikic, who most recently served as Interview’s chief revenue officer. WWD notes that both Brant and Nikic “had a hand in not paying the many people who worked under them” before the bankruptcy, and by choosing to file under Chapter 7, they may be able to avoid paying back the millions that they owe. “But should Interview relaunch after essentially skipping out on fees to hundreds of players in the fashion and publishing industry, is it possible that it will have the same allure for prospective contributors?” WWD’s Kali Hays wonders. “Will anyone be willing to risk working for people who have shown at best an indifference to timely and full payment to their partners and employees? As Warhol himself said, ‘Art is what you can get away with.’”

  • June 5, 2018

    Porochista Khakpour

    Porochista Khakpour tells Tin House about writing her memoir, Sick. “I felt I had to be really careful not to make my book appear like it represents the experience of all chronically ill or disabled America,” she said. “In that sense I also felt if I paraded around Audre Lorde’s experience with cancer or even Amy Tan’s with Lyme, I would be creating a sort of wonky narrative dilemma: a sort of forced dependency, a connecting of dots, and for what? For whom? For metaphor? To justify my story?”

    Former New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani talks to Vanity Fair about why she decided to write The Death of Truth. “One reason I wrote this book is to call attention to those who in their own times found what Margaret Atwood has called the ‘danger flags,’” she said, “in this case the denunciation of ‘fake news’ and the citing of ‘alternative facts’ by Trump and his White House.”

    In the New York Times’s Reader Center, reporter Rukmini Callimachi and editor Michael Slackman answer questions about the 15,000 ISIS documents collected by Callimachi for her article, “The ISIS Files.”

    The Break author Marian Keyes has accused the judges of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize of sexism after noting that only three women have won the award in nearly two decades. “Power and money are lovely, and those who have it want to hold onto it. One way of keeping those who don’t have it from having it is to mock them and mock the things they love,” she said. “It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.”

    Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s publicity tour for The President Is Missing is off to a rocky start, according to Entertainment Weekly’s David Canfield. “With Patterson awkwardly by his side, Clinton was grilled, particularly, by NBC News on Today, about his affair with Monica Lewinsky while he was in office,” Canfield reports. Reviews of the book have also been less than glowing. The Guardian’s Steven Poole points out that the title “fake news” since “the president isn’t missing,” and warns that “readers hoping for spicy revelations about what really goes on in the White House are likely to feel short-changed by bromides such as, ‘Sooner or later, every president faces decisions in which the right choice is bad politics, at least in the short term’, or the revelation that there is a one-lane bowling alley in the White House basement.”

  • June 4, 2018

    Michael Lewis

    Michael Lewis

    Moneyball author Michael Lewis is giving up his position as a contributing writer at Vanity Fair to work for Audible, the Amazon-owned audiobook company. Lewis has signed a multi-year contract with the Audible, for which he will produce original audio nonfiction stories, the first of which will be available in July. “You’re not going to be able to read it, you’re only going to be able to listen to it,” Mr. Lewis says. “I’ve become Audible’s first magazine writer.” At the New York Times, Alexandra Alter uses the move as an opportunity to highlight the growing market for audio content: “After years of stagnation in the industry, audiobooks have become a rare bright spot for publishers. While e-book sales have fallen and print has remained anemic, publishers’ revenue for downloaded audio has nearly tripled in the last five years, industry data from the Association of American Publishers shows.”

    In a Vanity Fair profile, Michiko Kakutani discusses her departure from the New York Times, where she was the lead book critic for more than three decades, to write her own book, The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump, which will be released this July.

    The Columbia Journalism Review has created a new ad campaign designed to combat “fake news.”

    The winners of the 11th annual Best Translated Book Awards have been announced.

    This week, Jaime Green made her debut as the romance-fiction columnist for the New York Times Book Review. Says Green in an interview: “I’ve been thinking about not only how good, fun and smart these books can be (very, very and very), but also why they matter, what motivates romance authors and what readers find in their work.”

    Garry Wills pays homage to the legendary oral historian Studs Terkel, and considers the 5,600 tapes that Terkel left behind when he died in 2008. The tapes have recently been digitized and catalogued, and are now available for download.

  • June 1, 2018

    At the Los Angeles Review of Books Blog, Rebecca Schultz talks to The Perfect Nanny author Leïla Slimani about the strange space that nannies occupy in a household and how identity factored into her novel. “I don’t care about identity, I don’t really understand what it means. I’m not interested in what people are; I’m interested in what people do,” Slimani said. “So in my books I like to make plenty of references to identity, and often with an ironic tone, just to say that maybe identity is not the clue, and it can’t help the reader understand the character.”

    Tommy Orange

    The National Book Critics Circle has announced the 2018 class of Emerging Critics.

    Alexandra Altman profiles There There author Tommy Orange for the New York Times. A member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes who grew up in Oakland, Orange says that in his youth he often felt like he didn’t fit in anywhere, something he addresses in his novel. “There’s been a lot of reservation literature written,” Orange said. “I wanted to have my characters struggle in the way that I struggled, and the way that I see other native people struggle, with identity and with authenticity.”

    The New York Post reports that Village Voice editor in chief Stephen Mooallem “quietly left the company” last March. The alt-weekly has yet to hire a replacement.

    President Bill Clinton tells the Times’s “By the Book” column about the books that influenced his political decisions. Besides choosing Al Gore as a running-mate after reading Earth in the Balance, Clinton says he can’t remember any specific choices that were inspired by literature. “But books by Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison made me want to do more about civil rights,” he said. “I read ‘America: What Went Wrong,’ by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, in 1992, and it strengthened my determination to try to reverse trickle-down economics and achieve a fairer and more prosperous economy.”


  • May 31, 2018

    John Carreyrou

    New York magazine talks to Bad Blood author John Carreyrou, whose reporting on Theranos and CEO Elizabeth Holmes ultimately brought down the company. Carreyrou says that he understands why other publications wrote glowing profiles of Holmes and her blood-testing machine, even though it didn’t actually work. “You could make a case that maybe they should have done more reporting beyond interviewing her and her immediate entourage,” he said. “But how much is a writer/reporter to blame when the subject is bald-face lying to him, too?”

    HBO recently announced that Alex Gibney has signed on to direct a documentary on Holmes’s rise and fall for the network.

    Reuters reports that a court has halted the building of the Nobel Center.

    Rumaan Alam talks to the Barnes & Noble Podcast about how “story of an uneasily blended family is a way of writing about nothing less than America.”

    After his literary agency’s accountant embezzled $3.4 million from the agency and its authors, Fight Club writer Chuck Palahniuk says that he is “close to broke,” The Guardian reports.

    The BBC reports that Arkady Babchenko, the Russian journalist said to have been assassinated earlier this week, attended a Ukrainian press conference today. At the conference, Babchenko explained that he had been working with Ukrainian security services to catch the perpetrator, who allegedly was hired by Russian security services. “I have buried many friends and colleagues many times and I know the sickening feeling,” Babchenko said. “I am sorry you had to experience it. But there was no other way.” Both Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists have condemned the staged shooting. “This journalist’s reappearance is a great relief but it was distressing and regrettable that the Security Service of Ukraine played with the truth,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said in a statement. “Was such a scheme really necessary? There can be no grounds for faking a journalist’s death.”