• November 2, 2018

    Moira Donegan

    The Guardian has added four new columnists to its US opinion section. Moira Donegan, Bhaskar Sunkara, Rebecca Solnit, and David Sirota will all contribute writing on different angles of American politics. The group brings “a range of perspectives that will help Guardian readers make sense of the political and social turmoil taking place in America today,” Guardian US editor John Mulholland said in a statement.

    The Marshall Project editor in chief Bill Keller is retiring. Keller will join the board of directors once a replacement editor has been chosen.

    Fast author Jorie Graham has won this year’s Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry.

    The Cut’s Angela Garbes wonders why “Mom Book” roundups only include books by white women. “Pregnancy and motherhood are experiences as individual as they are universal,” she writes. “We need books that reflect this, and we lose so much — stories that go untold, readers left unreached — when we allow Mom Books, and the discussion surrounding them, to be the exclusive territory of white women.”

    “When I started writing, there were a lot of restrictions on how free a woman could get on the page. I had a lot of paranoia about doing it wrong and how much could I say about myself and get away with because everyone believed that girls are boring,” Heather Havrilesky told Guernica about the evolution of her writing career. “Now, I think that I’ve indulged myself a lot in my career and I’ve been lucky to get away with it. I guess my feeling is that if you’re sharp and you’re a little bit funny you can get away with a lot of shit.”

  • November 1, 2018

    Jhumpa Lahiri

    Lithub talks to National Book Award finalists in translated literature Jhumpa Lahiri, Domenico Starnone, Olga Tokarczuk, and Jennifer Croft. Lahiri says that she doesn’t suffer from writer’s block. “At times I’m ‘blocked’ by the obligations and complications in life that keep me from writing or translating. But without those complications, many of them quite joyful, there would be little to write about.” Croft, on the other hand, says that translation helps her get over writer’s block. “It’s a wonderful way to continue to write and learn new strategies, things, styles while allowing ideas for future original writing to take shape in the back of my mind.”

    Merve Emre reports on the making of My Brilliant Friend, HBO’s small-screen adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novels. Emre writes that Ferrante was very involved in the production and writing of the series despite only communicating with director Saverio Costanzo through email. “I’m still trying to put everything together,” he said of the experience. “It was like working with a ghost.”

    At The Baffler, Ed Burmila looks at the ways “Facebook is melting the minds of our elders.”

    For their first project with Netflix, Barack and Michelle Obama have bought the rights to Michael Lewis’s The Fifth Risk, a recent book on the Trump administration that combines “research and interviews to paint an alarming portrait of an administration whose unpreparedness and incompetence have put the government’s stability and functionality in grave danger.”

    “You wouldn’t trust a music critic who’s buddies with the band, nor should you trust a tech reporter who hoots and hollers whenever Tim Cook takes the stage. And you definitely, absolutely should be suspicious of a political reporter who sits down with President Donald Trump and looks as if he’s meeting his favorite baseball player,” writes The Intercept’s Sam Biddle on Axios’s recent interview with Trump.

  • October 31, 2018

    Martha Nussbaum

    Monarchy of Fear author Martha Nussbaum has won the 2018 Berggruen Prize, which awards $1 million to a person who has “profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world.” Nussbaum will receive the award at a ceremony in December.  

    Penguin Random House imprint Dutton is releasing “mini books” of John Green’s novels, with hopes to capture the attention of young readers who might not be interested in traditional paperbacks. “The tiny editions are the size of a cellphone and no thicker than your thumb, with paper as thin as onion skin,” Alexandra Alter explains at the New York Times.They can be read with one hand — the text flows horizontally, and you can flip the pages upward, like swiping a smartphone.”

    “One friend who’s a college professor said to me, ‘If you write this, they’ll think you’re not a scholar anymore.’ That was a little unsettling, coming from someone I respect,” said Why Religion? author Elaine Pagels about her decision to write a memoir. “But I can show you my CV. If people don’t think I’m a scholar, that’s not my problem.”

    At Lithub, Andre Dubus III and Meg Wolitzer interview each other about their recent books.

    Martin Amis talks to The Guardian about the film adaptation of his novel London Fields, which was released last weekend in the US and “boasts a rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.” “When it’s suggested that a book of mine be made into a film, I always say, ‘Take it away, I don’t want to have any control over it. It’s yours now, do what you will with it,’ Amis said. “Life really is too short to worry about the secondary may-offends, you just focus on your end of it.”

  • October 30, 2018

    Lindsey Hilsum

    The Guardian talks to Lindsey Hilsum about war reporting, diaries, and In Extremis, her new biography of foreign correspondent Marie Colvin. “I think Marie’s killing . . . marked a watershed when it became unacceptably dangerous for many editors to send reporters into those situations,” Hilsum said of Colvin’s death in 2012. “It seems to me that with this nexus of corrupt governments and organised crime that investigative journalists are under more threat now than at any time in my career.”

    Simon & Schuster editors Jofie Ferrari-Adler and Ben Loehnen are forming a new imprint at the company. Avid Reader Press will begin publishing its own books late next year.

    Ballantine Books has bought the rights to Into the Dark, the first book to “chronicle last summer’s rescue of the Wild Boars soccer team from a flooded Thai cave in the actual words of everyone directly involved,” Deadline reports.

    Faber will publish a new short story by Sylvia Plath early next year.

    Anne Lamott talks to the New York Times about cat allergies, spirituality, and what topics she considers “universal.” “I don’t write stuff I don’t think is universal,” Lamott said. “If I write about my butt or my body or my, you know, challenges with self esteem or my raging ego, I know it’s universal. I mean, some people go, Really? That’s sick. You should get help instead of writing about it.”

    Tonight at the Brooklyn Public Library, Kiese Laymon presents his new book, Heavy: An American Memoir.

  • October 29, 2018

    George Saunders

    George Saunders

    George Saunders has sold his new book to Random House. In Masterclass, the Lincoln in the Bardo author reflects on two decades of teaching Russian authors to MFA students. According to his publisher, the book is like a “seminar in book form” that asks: “how do great stories work, how do you write them, and what are their political and moral implications?”

    Ntozake Shange, the playwright and poet who wrote the award-winning for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, has died.

    “I have the theological understanding of a third grader,” Anne Lamott says in a charming profile with the Times. “But it turns out there is room for a person like me who knows nothing. It turns out there is this hunger for people talking about spirituality from a really ecumenical position.” The “leftie guru” Lamott talks about politics, how she came to be an “inspirational writer,” and  why she originally wanted to call her new bestseller Doomed, even though it’s about hope.

    Michael Rectenwald, a professor at NYU, has outraged many of his colleagues by inviting Milo Yiannopoulos—the ultra-offensive ”conservative provocateur” and author of the alt-right bestseller Dangerous—to speak at his class on Wednesday about “the politics of Halloween.”

    Publishers Weekly has published its list of the best books of 2018.


  • October 26, 2018

    Tony Hoagland. Photo: Dorothy Alexander.

    The poet Tony Hoagland died Tuesday from cancer at the age of sixty-four. Hoagland was the author of many poetry collections, including 2003’s What Narcissism Means to Me, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. He received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and won the Poetry Foundation’s Mark Twain Award, among other honors. Critic Dwight Garner said of the poet, “At his frequent best . . . Hoagland is demonically in touch with the American demotic.”  The Poetry Foundation has twelve of Hoagland’s poems online, including “Bible Study,” which ends with the line: “And God said, Survive. And carry my perfume among the perishing.”    

    The Washington Post is beefing up their technology coverage, adding twelve new editors, reporters, and videographers

    Rebecca Solnit, Ling Ma, Derrick Barnes, and Gordon C. James won this year’s Kirkus Prizes.

    At the New Yorker, Hermione Hoby profiles Shelley Jackson, the experimental writer whose new novel, Riddance Or: The Sybil Joines Vocational School for Ghost Speakers & Hearing-Mouth Children, was published last week. Hoby calls Jackson an “advocate for the monstrous,” noting the collection of oddities in her apartment, including a taxidermied two-headed chick, a ventriloquist’s dummy, and an “ear trumpet” from the 1800s. Jackson explained: “I like things that give me the creeps. That’s really where I start writing anything—when I have a reaction that is uneasy, squeamish in some way.”

    Tonight at the New York Univeristy bookstore, author and professor Susan Shapiro will host a panel on publishing with writers, editors, and agents.

  • October 25, 2018

    Bret Easton Ellis is publishing his first nonfiction book, White, in May 2019. Ellis told the TLS that the work is “a lament from a disillusioned Gen X-er,” and that he’s turned away from fiction because, “No one really talks about novels anymore.”

    Brett Easton Ellis

    President Trump is inspiring a new wave of books about impeachment. Elizabeth Holtzman, who served on the House Judiciary Committee and worked on the Nixon impeachment in 1974, is publishing The Case for Impeaching Trump this November.  

    The PBS show The Great American Read has named To Kill A Mockingbird as the country’s favorite book. The network polled more than four million people on a list of one hundred titles. The novel will also be adapted for a Broadway show opening at the Shubert theater in December.    

    At The Believer, Jim Knipfel details the latest project of the avant-garde pop group The Residents: a novel, Brickeaters.

    Tonight at the Albertine bookstore in New York City, Caroline Webber will discuss her new book, Proust’s Duchess, with Edmund White. Webber’s book is a biography of the three high-society women who served as models for the Duchesse de Guermantes in In Search of Lost Time.

  • October 24, 2018

    The New York Times’s publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, told a CNN conference in New York that the mission of the paper hasn’t changed in the Trump era: “We seek the truth, we hold power to account and we help people to understand the world. And we’re just doing that with a different story right now.” As Erik Wemple points out, that’s not good enough for many readers, who, as a recent article by Jay Rosen in PressThink notes, have more power over the publication than ever before, and are using that pressure to urge the Times to forcefully call out Trump’s lies.   

    At the Paris Review Daily, John Wray talks about his new novel, Godsend, with Valeria Luiselli.  

    Colm Toibin

    In the Irish Times, Colm Toibin tours the streets of Dublin and writes about the city’s “peculiar intensity.” Toibin meditates on the lives of Irish writers such as Beckett, Wilde, Joyce, and Yeats, visiting literary haunts and landmarks, including the National Library: “The domed reading room has not changed since the time of Yeats and Joyce. It has the same light and layout, the same noises, perhaps even some of the same people, or maybe they just look similar.”

    The Brooklyn Public Library has announced its 2018 Literary Prize winners. The nonfiction award went to Jeanne Theoharis for A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History; in fiction, Carmen Maria Machado received the prize for Her Body and Other Parties.

    Tonight at the New York Public Library, Susan Orlean will discuss The Library Book with Paul Holdengraber; at Symphony Space, author and musician John Darnielle will host a reading of “speculative, spooky, sensational stories,” by actors including Molly Ringwald and Michael Shannon.

  • October 23, 2018

    Moira Donegan

    Moira Donegan is writing a book. The still-untitled book was bought by Scribner and will be a “primer on sexual harassment and assault as a lived experience” and explore the “moral and political challenge” that it presents for feminists.

    The Cut talks to Robbie Kaplan, the lawyer defending Donegan in the lawsuit brought against her by Stephen Elliott.

    The New York Times’s Parul Sehgal explores the prevalence of ghost stories in modern literature, which she writes is “positively ectoplasmic these days, crawling with hauntings, haints and wraiths of every stripe and disposition.”

    Danielle Dutton and Martin Riker talk to the Los Angeles Review of Books about Dorothy, the press they cofounded.

    Sheila Heti talks to Entertainment Weekly about choice, how gender affects her work’s reception, and her new book, Motherhood. “I think people read men and women differently and evaluate them on different scales,” she said. “There’s so much more credit given to men for their conscious artistry and hard work and for women when an artwork is great it’s because she has some like innate gift that doesn’t require her intelligence or her will or her craftsmanship. It just sort of comes out of her like blood.”

  • October 22, 2018

    Karen Russell

    Karen Russell

    The Long Black Veil author Jennifer Finney Boylan responds to Trump’s ban on transgender troops: “Even if trans issues don’t top the list of things you’re worried about, you should be appalled by the latest episode of kick-the-soldier, because it lays bare the fact that Mr. Trump is never motivated by policy, or research, or rationality. The only thing that matters to him is bigotry.”

    Karen Russell, the author of the Pulitzer-nominated novel Swamplandia, has sold two books to Knopf: the story collection Orange World (the title story of which ran in the New Yorker) and the short novel Sleep Donation, in which a near-future America is ravaged by a deadly outbreak of insomnia.  

    Rebecca Traister discusses Good and Mad, her new book about women’s anger. She notes the travesty of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation. But she also warns against despair: “I think if we didn’t feel optimism at this juncture, it would be very deadening. And what are we going to do, if we’re not going to keep fighting? I believe that continuing to fight is a moral imperative for those who want to make the country a better and more just place.”

    Angie Thomas—the author of The Hate U Give, the bestselling YA novel about Black Lives Matter—talks about the making of her book into a movie, and about her second novel, On the Come Up, which is due out in February.

    Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is happy to talk about where he buys his hats, his favorite TV shows, and beard-grooming methods, but he does not want to talk about the next installment of his wildly popular A Song of Ice and Fire series.