• 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.

  • March 1, 2018

    In February, a Turkish court handed out a life sentence without parole to novelist Ahmet Altan, professor Mehmet Altan, and journalist Nazli Ilicak, along with three other media employees, for supposedly being involved in this summer’s coup attempt by sending “subliminal messages” on television. In the New York Times, Ahmet Altan writes about the sentence and his imprisonment: “We will spend the rest of our lives alone in a cell that is three meters long and three meters wide. We will be taken out to see the sunlight for one hour a day. We will never be pardoned and we will die in a prison cell. . . . I will never see the world again. I will never see a sky unframed by the walls of a courtyard.” In The Guardian, thirty-eight Nobel laureates have signed an open letter to Turkish president  Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemning the unlawful conviction of the group.  

    Rachel Rosenfelt. Photo: Victor Jeffreys III.

    The New Republic  has named Rachel Rosenfelt as its publisher and vice-president. Rosenfelt is the founder and publisher of the New Inquiry, a director of the MA program in Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism at the New School, and Verso Book’s creative director.  

    Author Tom Scocca is starting Hmm Daily, a blog of social and political commentary. The site will be part of Civil, a new online platform dedicated to independent journalism. Scocca talked to the Columbia Journalism Review about his hopes and plans for the site, which he sees as place to support new writers and an alternative to the New York Times op-ed page: “It’s an attempt to create something that’s going to give people a chance to do the things they haven’t had the chance to do, whether it’s because they don’t have the right credentials yet, or because they have ideas that don’t fit into the existing boxes for where ideas can be placed.”

    Ta-Nehisi Coates has signed on to write the Captain America series for Marvel comics. In The Atlantic, he writes about his new gig, and the excitement and fear that goes along with it: “Two years ago I began taking up the childhood dream of writing comics. To say it is more difficult than it looks is to commit oneself to criminal understatement.” The first Coates-penned comic will be released on July 4th.  

    Tonight at the Brooklyn Historical Society, Steve Coll discusses his new book, Directorate S

  • February 28, 2018

    Jill Soloway

    Jill Soloway is starting their own imprint, Topple Books, with Amazon publishing. Soloway says of the new venture: “We live in a complicated, messy world where every day we have to proactively re-center our own experiences by challenging privilege. . . . With Topple Books, we’re looking for those undeniably compelling essential voices so often not heard.”

    According to Ryan Holiday’s new book, Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, Thiel considered illegal actions such as bribery, hacking, and theft against Gawker Media after Valleywag claimed Thiel was gay in a 2007 post. Holiday quotes Thiel saying, “There are things that were very tempting, an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. Retributive justice. . . . But I think those would have ultimately been self-defeating. That’s where you just become that which you hate.” Thiel ended up backing Hulk Hogan in a successful lawsuit that led to Gawker shutting down and Gawker Media’s founder Nick Denton declaring bankruptcy.  

    Two years after Harper Lee’s death at the age of eighty-nine, her will has been unsealed. But, as the New York Times reports, questions about Lee remain unanswered, especially concerning her decision to publish a follow-up to To Kill A Mockingbird in 2015. That sequel, Go Set a Watchman, was the best-selling book of the year, but fans are divided about whether she intended to release the book or was taken advantage of by her representatives.

    Quinn Norton, the technology writer who was hired to be a New York Times columnist, then quickly fired because of controversial tweets and her online friendship with a neo-Nazi, tells her side of the story at The Atlantic. According to Norton, it wasn’t her real self, but an online “doppelgänger” that caused the online outrage that led to her termination—out of context tweets, mainly. Of her friendship with Andrew Auernheimer (known online as “weev”), a webmaster for the anti-Semitic site The Daily Stormer, Norton writes, “weev is just one of many terrible people I’ve cared for in my life. I don’t support what my terrible friend believes or does. But I strongly advocate for people with a good sense of themselves and their values to engage with their terrible friends, coworkers, and relatives, to lovingly confront them for as long as it takes, and it would be wrong to not do so myself.”    

    Tonight at the Brooklyn Public Library, David Mamet presents his new book, Chicago: A Novel.

  • February 27, 2018

    Joe Pompeo writes about New York Times Opinion editor James Bennet, and the unhappiness in the newsroom over the direction the op-ed pages have been taking. Bennet was charged with making “provocative” hires to shake up the section, but the short-lived career of tech writer Quinn Norton—who was quickly dismissed after Twitter users pointed out her friendship with a neo-Nazi—and the hiring of Bret Stephens, a climate change denier, have left Times readers feeling displeased and staff members “embarrassed.” For his part, Bennet told Pompeo, “Look, we’re recruiting different types of writers than we have traditionally, and I’ll make some mistakes. It’s just gonna happen.”

    Radhika Jones. Photo: Earl Wilson

    After she took over as editor of Vanity Fair, Radhika Jones let twenty staff members from the Graydon Carter era go in what the New York Post referred to as a “bloodbath.” Now, she’s stocking up on new hires, naming Claire Howorth as deputy editor and Caryn Prime as director of editorial operations, among other appointments.  

    A trailer for HBO’s new adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 has been released. The series will star Michael B. Jordan.

    At his Washington Post blog, Erik Wemple argues that Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff’s credibility is faltering. Wemple recounts a recent incident when Wolff appeared to pretend he couldn’t hear a question about his claim that Trump was having an affair with a staff member. Last week, he became agitated when asked about the affair again, saying, “Let me say this as directly as I can. Let’s go right through anybody’s thick skull. I did not—I do not know who Donald Trump is having an affair with, okay?”

    Tonight at McNally Jackson Books in Manhattan, Lynne Tillman discusses her new novel, Men and Apparitions, with Colm Tóibín.

  • February 26, 2018

    Michelle Obama Becoming

    Michelle Obama

    Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, will be released on November 13. The book was acquired by Crown Books, along with a book by Barack Obama, earlier this month, for an undisclosed amount that has been the subject of much speculation (the Financial Times reported that the publisher paid $65 million for the two titles).

    Stphen Rubin was once known for launching unknown writers like Dan Brown and John Grisham into bestseller stardom, but when he left Random House to become the president of Henry Holt nine years ago, many considered his career to be over. And then he acquired the book that would turn him into an undisputed success once again: Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. The Times gives an overview of the publisher’s career.

    The Guardian talks with novelist Marilynne Robinson about her new book of essays, her Christian faith, and her writing habits. “I don’t really have an ideal reader in mind at all, whether one with or without faith,” she says. “When I write it is to try to figure out something for my own purposes.”

    The website Literary Manhattan has published its eightieth profile of a New York author—”none other than Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and rocker, Bob Dylan.”

    Philip Jones, the editor of The Bookseller, explains why publishers will most likely continue to release hardcover books for a while. “The hardback is a mark of quality and a demonstration of intent on behalf of the publisher: it shows booksellers and reviewers that this is a book worth paying attention to. In fact some literary editors will still only review fiction (on first publication) if it’s published in hardback. Similarly, a hardback signifies to authors and agents that this is a book their publisher cares about, so much so that some agents (and authors) will insist upon it.”

    Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is being adapted for television.

  • February 23, 2018

    CBS News senior foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan has been hired as the next Face the Nation moderator, replacing John Dickerson, who replaced Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning earlier this year. The New York Times notes that Brennan’s new role makes her “the only woman currently serving as a solo anchor of a major Sunday political affairs show.”

    Lupita Nyong’o has signed on to play the role of Trevor Noah’s mother in the film adaptation of his memoir, Born a Crime.

    Literary Hub talks to Jeff VanderMeer about what it’s like to have your novel turned into a film.

    Terese Marie Mailhot

    BuzzFeed talks to Terese Marie Mailhot and Tommy Orange, two recent graduates of the Institute of American Indian Arts’s MFA program whose books are coming out this year. The first in the US to be indigenous-centered, the IAIA’s writing program creates a space outside the traditionally white academic and publishing worlds. “It’s very different for indigenous people, and black people, and people of color, because we are so often told to doubt ourselves, and our aesthetics, and what we do, simply because some of us are not traditionally taught how to write,” Mailhot said. “And even if we are, we are looked at as if we don’t know how—that we’re not authorities of our own work. And I just don’t buy it anymore.”  

    Journalist Charlie Warzel asks why Google, Facebook, and YouTube are so bad at spotting hoaxes and misleading stories in the wake of tragedies. Warzel writes, “This isn’t some new phenomenon. Still, the platforms are proving themselves incompetent when it comes to addressing them. . . .  In many cases, they appear to be surprised by that such content sits on their websites.”

  • February 22, 2018

    The Guardian has an article explaining the chaos at Newsweek magazine, where management tried to shut down a story by its reporters about the publication’s ties to a Christian college. The magazine’s offices were raided by the DA on January 18th, and since then, the staff has been trying to dig into the reasons for the raid. In the process, there have been editors and reporters fired and charges by staff that executives tried to subject the reporting to an unethical review process. At Columbia Journalism Review, Joel Simon weighs in on why the dismissal of editors is so troubling: “These firings appear to be legal, and certainly don’t violate the First Amendment. But from a press freedom perspective they are disturbing because they challenge a norm at the heart of American journalism, which is that the business side stays out of the newsroom and does not dictate coverage.”

    Sigrid Nunez

    Newsweek ran into more trouble yesterday, as they were forced to retract a story, “How An Alt-Right Bot Network Took Down Al Franken,” after they were unable to verify their source’s key claims.

    Finalists for the LA Times book prize include Ta-Nehisi Coates, Joyce Carol Oates, Ron Chernow, and Jesmyn Ward.  

    Tonight at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, Sigrid Nunez will discuss her new novel, The Friend, with Peter Cameron. In our Feb/Mar issue, Vivian Gornick said of the book: “I don’t know whether or not The Friend is a good novel or even, strictly speaking, if it’s a novel at all—so odd is its construction—but after I’d turned the last page of the book I found myself sorry to be leaving the company of a feeling intelligence that had delighted me and even, on occasion, given joy.”  

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