• July 5, 2018

    The 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing has been awarded to Makena Onjerika for her short story “Fanta Blackcurrant. A graduate of New York University’s MFA program, Onjerika now lives in Kenya where she is working on a novel.

    Sheila Heti

    At Granta, Sheila Heti and Tao Lin interview each other about their books, chemical detoxing, and the difficulties of writing. “When I was younger I sort of resented that just writing wasn’t enough – that it also had to be completed to be an object of use for the world,” said Heti. “But now I think that it doesn’t even serve any internal function for myself if I don’t bring the writing to a point of finish. Only when it’s finished does the writing become a reliable friend you can count on. Until then, the writing is just like a friend who wastes your time in uninteresting texting.”

    Literary Hub rounds up a list of Great American Novels written by authors who were not born in the US. “While I’d certainly agree that it would be difficult to write a novel addressing the American experience without at least living here for a while, sometimes it takes an outsider to really see the truth of something,” writes Emily Temple.

    After an internal investigation into her relationship with a potential source, New York Times federal law enforcement reporter Ali Watkins is being transferred to a new beat in New York.

    Hamilton Nolan implores non-union employees at the Washington Post to join the union after their dismal contract negotiations were made public. “To the half or more of Washington Post staffers who have voluntarily chosen not to be members of their own union: Look in the mirror,” Nolan writes. “Staring back at you is a person who is getting fucked by one of the richest men in the world.”

    Facebook’s new commitment to be more transparent about political advertising has started to affect business owners as well as publishers. Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier reports that ads for a waxing salon, a lawn-mowing company, and a Walmart sale on baked beans have all found their way into the social media site’s political advertising archive for using the word bush. “This is a new policy and process. . . . Review and enforcement won’t be perfect,” a company representative explained. “In the meantime,” Frier notes, “it will archive and later block ads like the one that celebrated fifth-grade graduation at Barack H. Obama Elementary Magnet School of Technology in Atlanta.”

  • July 3, 2018

    In response to the Nobel Prize’s hiatus due to sexual misconduct at the Swedish Academy, The Guardian reports that “more than 100 Swedish writers, actors, journalists and other cultural figures have formed the New Academy, which will hand out its own award this autumn.” In a statement, the group explained that they founded the organization “to remind people that literature and culture at large should promote democracy, transparency, empathy and respect, without privilege, bias, arrogance or sexism.” The prize will be awarded in December, and the group will disband afterward.

    Emma Cline

    Emma Cline (Credit: Megan Cline)

    Atlantic Media is selling Quartz to a Japanese media firm. Uzabase Inc. will pay up to $110 million for the business-news website. Columbia Journalism Review writes that the deal is no cause for celebration, since “Atlantic Media has been shopping the site around to potential buyers on and off since 2015, and it wound up being sold to a little-known Japanese media startup not much older than itself.”

    A federal judge has dismissed the copyright infringement lawsuit against The Girls author Emma Cline. “I’m extremely gratified that a judge has dismissed the meritless claims against my novel,” Cline said in a statement to The Cut. “As deeply painful as it has been to bring this dispute into the light, I’m glad I did not capitulate. My book is and always has been my own.”

    Junot Díaz has given his first interview since being accused of sexual misconduct and harassment. The author denied all allegations against him, and said that the accusations don’t sound “like anything that’s in my life, anything that’s me.” Díaz’s accusers spoke out against his denials. “Why would we be doing this if we weren’t telling the truth,” said Monica Byrne in a tweet. “We have nothing to gain and everything to lose. I’d rather be doing anything else.”

    The Society of Professional Journalists has named former Associated Press editor Rod Hicks as its inaugural Journalist on Call. In a statement, SPJ explained that the role was created to help journalists “understand why the public doesn’t trust them and what they can do to re-earn more trust.” “We are at a critical time in our democracy — a time when citizens more than ever need to understand the need for an aggressive free press,” Hicks said in his own statement. “I will work to help them understand why this is so vital to every individual in our country.”

  • July 2, 2018

    Joy Press

    Joy Press

    Joy Press, author of Stealing the Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing Television, has written a new piece for Vanity Fair about novelists’ shifting attitudes toward writing for TV. They used to scoff at the prospect, but now most writers dream of writing for the small screen. “If you eavesdrop on any gathering of serious writers, they’re as likely to be discussing Killing Eve or Better Call Saul as they are the latest book by Zadie Smith or Rachel Kushner,” Press writes. “Even the University of Iowa is launching TV-writing programs this fall.”

    In the UK, the Society of Authors has issued a angry letter addressed to major publishers, responding to a new study showing that the median income for writers dropped to 10,500 pounds a year. “What concerns us is that during the same period that we see authors’ earnings plummet, the large publishers are seeing their sales rocket,” says Society of Authors chief executive Nicola Solomon.

    It is rumored that Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep will star in Greta Gerwig’s new film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

    Dennis Lim, the author of David Lynch: The Man from Another Place, compares the points of view of the Blue Velvet director and Donald Trump. “While Lynch did not vote for Trump, you can see how the mind behind the grotesque screaming baby of “Eraserhead” and the sociopathic id-monster that is Blue Velvet’s Frank Booth (“Baby wants to fuck!”) would regard the President with a detached aesthetic fascination,” Lim writes. “And therein lies the problem with Lynch’s comments. They are irksome not because they endorse Trump—as numerous headlines falsely declared—but because they represent the privileged position of distance.”

    Bomb has published four new poems by The Argonauts author Maggie Nelson.

  • June 29, 2018

    On Thursday, Jarrod Warren Ramos open fired in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis Maryland, killing five people. Soon after, the publication’s official account tweeted, “Yes, we’re putting out a damn paper tomorrow.” In today’s edition, the opinion page is left almost entirely blank, and the Gazette has published remembrances of the five victims: Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, John McNamara, Wendi Winters, and Rebecca Smith.

    A biography of Anthony Bourdain will be published in fall 2019. Bourdain: The Oral Biography will be edited by Laurie Woolever, who collaborated often with the chef.

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

    Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan reflects on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez surprise win in the New York Democratic Primary, and the media’s failure to adequately cover the candidate. On Tuesday, the Times ran the headline “Who Is Ocasio-Cortez?,” while sites like the Intercept and  web networks such as The Young Turks had been reporting on her for months. The Young Turks’s Cenk Uygur told the Post, “The traditional media pay attention to one metric—money—but there should be other considerations: number of volunteers, social-media engagement, small-dollar donations . . . She was through the roof on all of those metrics.”

    At Gizmodo media, a round of buyouts has allowed the company to avoid layoffs. Forty-four employees reportedly took the severance package as Univision, which acquired Gizmodo Media Group in 2016, mandated budget cuts.

    The science-fiction author Harlan Ellison has died at the age of eighty-four.

    At the New York Times, veteran obituary writer Margalit Fox is retiring after twenty-four years at the paper. For Times Insider, Fox reflects on her career and takes a crack at penning her own epitaph: “At times she wrote obits with tears in her eyes, but far more often she wrote them from joy. It was the joy that sprang from the extraordinary privilege of tracing the arc—in sweet-smelling newsprint, damp with ink—of lives well lived.”

  • June 28, 2018

    Tommy Pico. Photo: Niqui Carter

    Literary Hub talks to poet Tommy Pico about karaoke, plants, and Feed, his recently-recorded soundscape for the High Line in Manhattan. Pico says that he saw the collaboration “as one of reconciliation”—”reconciling ‘nature’ with ‘the city,’ the city’s past with the park’s future.” Pico also had a more personal reason to be interested in the project. “I just so happened to be reconciling with an ex with whom I’d had many, many dates at the park itself,” he explained. “Just vibes all around.”

    Lauretta Charlton has been named editor of the New York Times Race/Related team. Charlton was most recently assistant news editor at the New Yorker.

    “It is not necessary to agree that ‘How to Write an Autobiographical Novel’ is itself a kind of novel in order to appreciate that Chee has written a moving and personal tribute to impermanence,” writes J.W. McCormack on Alexander Chee’s new essay collection.  

    At Slate, Will Oremus looks at the news site’s sharp decline in referral traffic from Facebook and what it means for online publishing. After Facebook decided to prioritize individuals’ posts over content from news outlets last winter, Slate’s traffic from Facebook dropped by 81 percent. “Facebook’s waning influence could help to reverse some of the trends that the social network stoked: pandering headlines, overt partisanship, filter bubbles,” Oremus concludes. “It has certainly already forced many publications to prioritize the loyalty of their existing readers over chasing the wider but more fickle audiences available on social platforms.”

    Sources tell the New York Times that former Fox News president Bill Shine is in the running to be the next White House communications director. CNN reports that Sean Hannity has “been pushing shine for the position . . . behind the scenes ‘big time’ over the last several months.”

    “Technology platforms, both big and small, must grapple with the reality that they are now powerful instruments in an increasingly toxic political and cultural battle,” writes BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel on use of sites like Yelp and Twitter for political revenge. “After years attempting to dodge notions of bias at all costs, Silicon Valley’s tech platforms are up against a painful reality: They need to expect and prepare for the armies of the culture war and all the uncomfortable policing that inevitably follows.”

     

  • June 27, 2018

    Michael Ian Black. Photo: Natalie Brasington

    Actor and comedian Michael Ian Black is working on a book about masculinity. A Better Man, which will be published by Algonquin Books in 2019, is “a radical plea for rethinking masculinity and teaching young men to give and receive love.”

    At Slate, Lili Loofbourow looks at the ways men accused of misconduct use their public apologies to pardon themselves for their behavior, while disregarding the feelings of the women they’ve harmed. “If women have a hard time accepting apologies, or declaring a public reckoning over, it may not be because they’re vengeful grudge holders but because they’ve had little to do with the apology machine whose output—male epiphany, primarily—they are told they should accept,” she writes. “Women, in this arrangement, must be supreme apology catchers, grasping at any sorry volleyed into space, to no one in particular, for unspecified harms, on the assumption it was meant for them.”

    The New Yorker collects the many poems, short stories, and essays contributed by Donald Hall over the last six decades.

    The New York Times talks to Jonathan Franzen about seabirds, writing for television, and his declining book sales.

    Russell Crowe will star as Roger Ailes in a Showtime limited series based on Gabriel Sherman’s book, The Loudest Voice in the Room.

    Sean Spicer is working on a talk show. As the host of Sean Spicer’s Common Ground, the former press secretary hopes to meet with “some of the most interesting and thoughtful public figures for a drink and some lite conversation at a local pub or cafe”—a “relaxed atmosphere” that is “an ideal setting for Sean to get to know his guests as they discuss everything from the media to marriage.” According to the pitch, Spicer and his guests “might even tangle over the merits of making your bed or the value of a great point guard.”

  • June 26, 2018

    At the Village Voice, Donna Minkowitz reflects on her reporting on the 1993 murder of Brandon Teena, and the editorial decisions that she now regrets twenty-five years later. “For years, I have wanted to apologize for what I now understand, with some shame, was the article’s implicit anti-trans framing,” she writes. “Even in New York City, someone like me, a journalist who considered myself very involved in queer radical politics, could be massively ignorant about what it meant to be transgender.”

    Megan Abbott. Photo: Drew Reilly

    After BuzzFeed announced plans to close their Paris office, BuzzFeed France staff have voted for a strike this week. “France is not the US,” employees wrote in a statement. “You can’t close a media outlet in a snap of a finger.”

    Hearst president David Carey is stepping down from his role. Carey will stay with the company as chairman as Hearst looks for a replacement.

    The Orwell Prize has been awarded to Scottish rapper and columnist Darren McGarvey for his book, Poverty Safari.

    Entertainment Weekly looks at crime novelist Megan Abbott’s recent Hollywood success. Two of her latest books, You Will Know Me and Give Me Your Hand, have been optioned by AMC and USA is working on a TV adaptation of another novel, Dare Me.

    In recognition of its fiftieth anniversary, Emily Temple crunches the numbers behind the Man Booker Prize. Temple notes that during the half-century that the prize has existed, there have been sixteen years where the shortlist did not include a single writer of color and two years with no women included. “Number of years the shortlist featured 0 men: 0.”

    Caitlin Moran talks to The Guardian about problematic mentors, embarrassing her children with writing, and her new book, How to Be Famous. “Who wants to read their mum writing about masturbation?” she said of whether her children are fans of her work. “We did an Easter egg hunt and one of the clues was hidden in my book and they refused to open it. The shits. They said: ‘I don’t want to read the bit about the hairiness.’”

  • June 25, 2018

    Amazon stock fell more than a percentage point after the Supreme Court overturned a 1992 ruling that has allowed internet retailers to forego collecting sales taxes. The American Bookseller Association celebrated the Supreme Court decision, which feels that the older tax laws gave online booksellers an unfair advantage over small brick-and-mortar stores. “Today’s ruling represents a tremendous victory for independent booksellers and for indie retailers throughout the country,” said the ABA’s CEO, Oren Teicher.

    At Vogue, Bridget Read learns everything she can about the TV adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, which is currently being filmed in Naples.

    Benedict Cumberbatch as Patrick Melrose.

    Christopher de Bellaigue considers a disappearing strain of British aristocratic sadism through the lens of Patrick Melrose, the new show based on the novels of Edward St. Aubyn.

    The Quietus has posted a  list of the top 40 books about music.

    Eleanor Catton, author of Booker-winning The Luminaries, imagines the astrological book she wishes she’d written, reveals what novel influenced her most, and explains why John Williams’s Stoner is overrated.

    On Tuesday in New York, Minna Zallman Proctor, the author of Landslide: True Stories, will read with J. Robert Lennon (Broken River), Simeon Marshalis (As Lie Is to Grin), and Dan Sheehan (Restless Souls). You can reserve a seat here.

  • June 22, 2018

    Michelle Alexander

    The New Jim Crow author Michelle Alexander is joining the New York Times Opinion section. In a statement, editorial page editor James Bennet called Alexander “a powerful writer, a fierce advocate for a more just world and a deep believer in open-minded, searching debate over how to achieve it.”

    America Ferrera is editing an anthology of essays “about the experience of growing up between cultures in America. American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures—which features pieces by Roxane Gay, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Issa Rae, Jenny Zhang, among others—will be published by Gallery Books next September.

    Silvia Killingsworth has been hired by Bloomberg Businessweek as digital editor. Killingsworth was most recently the editor of The Awl and has previously worked at the New Yorker as managing editor.

    Former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter is working on a media company of his own. The New York Post reports that the venture is “rumored to be a multi-platform venture centering, at least at first, on wealthy and famous European families, including Britain’s royal family” and “could take flight before the end of the year.”

    At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Scott Timberg talks to Martin Amis about poetry, aging novelists, and his latest essay collection, The Rub of Time. “Medical science has given us the spectacle of the doddering novelist. As I say in the first of the Nabokov essays, all of the great novelists are dead by the time they reach my age,” Amis said. “Novelists probably do go on longer than they ought to, now. Philip Roth has done the dignified thing, just quit. . . . It seems to me that rather than gouging out another not-very-original book, you should just step aside.”

     

  • June 21, 2018

    Being Mortal author Atul Gawande has been named CEO of Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase’s joint healthcare initiative. “I have devoted my public health career to building scalable solutions for better healthcare delivery that are saving lives, reducing suffering, and eliminating wasteful spending both in the US and across the world,” Gawande said in a statement. “Now I have the backing of these remarkable organizations to pursue this mission with even greater impact for more than a million people, and in doing so incubate better models of care for all.”

    At the New Yorker, Caleb Crain looks to the American Time Use Survey to explain why Americans are spending less time reading.

    Read an excerpt from David and Lauren Hogg’s new book, #NeverAgain.

    Univision is offering buyouts to Gizmodo Media employees in an effort to reduce its editorial budget and possibly avoid layoffs.

    After an internal investigation, MIT has announced that Junot Diaz will return to teaching there in the fall.

    Medium’s vice president of editorial Siobhan O’Connor talks to The Idea about the company’s new editorial vision. O’Connor says that the company now has eleven full-time editorial employees and that switch to an new ad-free, $5-per-month subscription plan has been successful. “Medium is unique in that you’re getting very different kinds of writing from very different kinds of writers — and it’s all presented together in one place,” she said. “We’re also unique in that we find ourselves in this rare moment where our business model  . . . is aligned with our mission, and it’s working.”

    Tonight at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, Susan Choi talks to Lillian Li about her new book, Number One Chinese Restaurant.

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