• 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.”

  • May 30, 2018

    The Nobel Prize for Literature will not be awarded again until the Swedish Academy’s issues are resolved, The Guardian reports. Although the group has announced plans to award two prizes in 2019, Nobel Foundation executive director Lars Heikensten wrote on the prize’s website that he hopes “that this will be the case, but it depends on the Swedish Academy restoring its trust.” In a radio interview, Heikensten also urged the current members of the academy to resign. “I think everyone needs to think about whether they are good for the Swedish Academy and the Nobel Prize and whether they will be good for the academy in the future,” he said.

    The first bid for Gawker.com was accepted yesterday. Long Island digital ad agency Didit has offered $1 million for the site, and “plans to turn the once-biting and snarky site into a ‘good gossip’ news site.”

    David Sedaris

    David Sedaris tells the AV Club that he doesn’t understand why his books Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked are so popular. “Quite often a textbook will rerun something from Naked or Me Talk Pretty One Day, and I just—there’s so many better things,” he said. “I mean, those books were written so long ago, and they’re over-written in my opinion. So I could give you 20 reasons not to buy either of those books and not a single reason to buy one.”

    CNN reporter Chloe Melas talks to the New York Times about her reporting on the sexual harassment allegations against Morgan Freeman, which was prompted by her own experience of harassment by the actor.

    The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Cartwright explores the friendship between Donald Trump and TMZ’s Harvey Levin.

    At Vox, Todd VanDerWerff explains why cancelling the highly-profitable Roseanne reboot was a good decision for ABC. “At what point do you accept that Barr is going to keep tweeting things like this, turning off a growing portion of your audience, and if that continues to happen, soon only those who are watching to hear Barr say outrageously racist things will be around?” he writes. “It hurts all those other shows by sharing space with them, and it scares off peddlers of new shows who might not want to share a network with a series whose star seems intent on chasing away everybody who isn’t already predisposed to laugh at racist tweets.”

  • May 29, 2018

    The Library of Congress has announced the lineup for this year’s National Book Festival main stage. Authors include Amy Tan, Dave Eggers, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Emily Cooke is joining the New Republic as editorial director. Cooke was most recently the deputy editor of Harper’s Magazine, and previously worked as an editor at Bookforum and the New Inquiry.

    Alex Bowler has been hired as publisher at Faber. The Granta executive publisher will replace Faber’s current publisher Mitzi Angel, who is leaving the company for Farrar, Straus and Giroux this fall.

    Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s upcoming book has been cancelled.

    Sheila Heti talks to The Guardian about the ways mothers and non-mothers judge each other for their respective choices. “Maybe if we both feel shame it’s because it’s shameful to be a woman. Whatever you choose you feel shame,” she said. “I wonder if it’s ever going to change, or if women will feel that way until there are no humans ever.”

    In the New Yorker profiles Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie remembers the difficulty of being a new mother and trying to continue writing. “I’d take her to the playground, with what I call the Society of Stay-at-Home Mothers, who are all deeply good and pure and righteous, and their entire lives are about the well-being of their child,” she remembered, “and I’m, like, Oh, Lord, I haven’t even read the damn news, I’m reading fiction only for thirty minutes before sleep, that’s not the person I am.”

  • May 25, 2018

    Noah Shachtman

    Daily Beast editor in chief John Avlon is leaving the website to become a full-time political analyst at CNN. He will be replaced by Noah Shachtman, who currently serves as executive editor. In a memo to staff, Shachtman wrote that he is excited to be the website’s third editor in chief. “The first chapter of The Beast’s history saw an astonishing launch—followed by the Newsweek merger. In the second chapter, we parted ways with the magazine, reestablished our foundations, and then, improbably, turned this place into a scoop machine,” he writes. “Chapter three is poised to be the best one yet. I can’t wait.”

    At Columbia Journalism Review, Pete Vernon explains how the recent ruling that Trump cannot block other Twitter users will affect other politicians.

    BuzzFeed News’ Ben Smith looks at Elon Musk’s recent criticisms of the press and argues that both Musk and Zuckerberg’s attitude toward media reveals “how little the tech barons shaping the new ways we live and consume information understand about journalism.”

    Taffy Brodesser-Akner reflects on Philip Roth’s legacy and how his writing shaped the American Jewish experience. “With every book, with every question, with every overt display of ambivalence and disgust, he was affirming to us that we were contenders,” she writes. “Like our experiences deserved to be considered and judged. Like we belonged here.”

    At Literary Hub, Karl Taro Greenfeld wonders how he ended up a “minor writer” rather than a major one. “It could be a lack of talent. I could be bad luck. Perhaps a combination,” he writes. “I’m not asking for sympathy or pity. I am merely identifying a common enough condition: I didn’t become what I dreamed.”

  • May 24, 2018

    Journalists from CNN, Politico, and other outlets were banned from attending an Environmental Protection Agency summit on water contaminants this week. When one CNN reporter showed their credentials and attempted to enter the conference, a security guard told them “they ain’t doing the CNN stuff,” and an Associated Press journalist was physically removed from the summit after requesting to speak with a public affairs staffer about the ban.

    A federal judge has ruled that Trump cannot legally block Twitter users from viewing his posts.

    Facebook has announced three new tactics for fighting fake news on the platform. The company is inviting researchers to study the phenomenon, mounting a public education campaign on Facebook’s homepage, and releasing a short video called Facing Facts. “The message is clear,” writes Wired’s Nicholas Thompson. “Facebook knows it screwed up, and it wants us all to know it knows it screwed up.”

    Lauren Groff. Photo: Megan Brown

    At The Intercept, Maryam Saleh explores the decision made by reporter and Caliphate podcast host Rukmini Callimachi to remove thousands of pages of internal ISIS documents from Iraq, and how that choice impacts the country’s understanding of its own history. “How can Iraq or any country come to terms with its own history when its people no longer possess the documents that can help them better understand all that they’ve endured?” she writes. “What should journalists do when they come upon important documents that are abandoned or without protection during war?”

    In the New York Times’s “By the Book” column, Florida author Lauren Groff wonders why men aren’t influenced by books written by women. “When male writers list books they love or have been influenced by — as in this very column, week after week — why does it almost always seem as though they have only read one or two women in their lives?” she asked. “And it isn’t because male writers are bad people. We know they’re not bad people. In fact, we love them. We love them because we have read them.”

    As Meredith Corp. prepares to sell Time, the New York Times has compiled an oral history of the news magazine. Though there were many good times—like the move to the Time-Life building and the money of the mid-1990s—there was also an intensely gender-segregated workplace where women weren’t hired as writers or editors until the 1980s. Maureen Dowd, one of the first female staff writers at the magazine, remembers the Mad Men–style work culture. “My boss felt free, when we worked late closing the magazine on Fridays nights, taking all the young male writers out to dinner at the steakhouse downstairs without a thought that they were walking past the offices of the only two women in the hall — me and my friend, the late Susan Tifft,” she recalls. “Susan, a staunch feminist, confronted the boss. But we never did get to that steakhouse.”

  • May 23, 2018

    Philip Roth

    Philip Roth has died at the age of eighty-five. The New York Times obituary calls Roth “the last of the great white males,” along with John Updike and Saul Bellow, and quotes Roth comparing himself to the two authors: “Updike and Bellow hold their flashlights out into the world, reveal the world as it is now. I dig a hole and shine my flashlight into the hole.” At The Guardian, writers and friends remember Roth, who won the Pulitzer prize for his 1997 novel American Pastoral and is one of the most award-winning novelists in American literature. The New Yorker has a run-down of the magazine’s coverage of Roth and his contributions over the years. Among the most memorable are a profile from 2000 by David Remnick and a 2012 article about Roth’s retirement. As Gary Shteyngart put it, “Roth led a life for which most writers would give up both of their typing arms: he completed his life’s project and then he stopped. Could there be a better writing life than that?”   

    This year’s Man Booker International Prize has been awarded to Olga Tokarczuk for her novel Flights. Tokarczuk is the first Polish author to win the prize. The chair of the judging committee, Lisa Appignanesi, said of the book, “We loved the voice of the narrative—it’s one that moves from wit and gleeful mischief to real emotional texture and has the ability to create character very quickly, with interesting digression and speculation.”

    There have been more layoffs at Vanity Fair. The magazine is restructuring and is planning to announce some new hires soon.  

    Michelle Cottle has been named the lead opinion writer for national politics at the New York Times. Cottle has previously worked at The Atlantic, the National Journal, and the Daily Beast. The Times press release summed up her recent output: “Among many other gems, her recent work has included (politely) nudging Hillary Clinton toward the exit, dissecting the #MeToo era in state government and sticking up for unpaid interns—all the while, digging into today’s dating scene as a Date Lab columnist for The Washington Post.” At the Washington Post,  Monica Hesse has been hired as the paper’s first gender columnist.  

    Tonight at the New York Public Library, documentary photographer Susan Meiselas, whose retrospective book Mediations was published in March, talks about her work with artist Ann Hamilton.

  • May 22, 2018

    Interview magazine is shutting down after nearly fifty years. Founded by Andy Warhol in 1969, the publication has become entangled in legal challenges from former staffers who claim lost wages worth hundred of thousands of dollars, as well as a charge that the former creative director, Karl Templer, overstepped “the professional line.”

    The New York Times is developing a television series based on “Overlooked,” the paper’s ongoing feature about important women and people of color who did not receive a Times obituary. The scripted series will have ten episodes per season, each telling one person’s story. All of the episodes will be written and directed by women.

    Spiegel Online has more details about the scandals at the Swedish Academy. The article, which details the charges against Horace Engdahl and Jean-Claude Arnault that led to the Nobel Prize in literature being suspended this year, also speculates about the future of the award: “Some say that the Nobel Committee should simply take responsibility for the prize away from the Swedish Academy and give it to a different academy. That, they say, is the only possible way to save the prize—if indeed it can still be saved.”

    At the Columbia Journalism Review, Farai Chideya writes about the lack of diversity in newsrooms and offers suggestions for how the long-standing issue might be addressed: “Major news prizes like the Pulitzer and DuPont could require public disclosure of diversity metrics as a qualification for acceptance of the prize. This would broadly affect both the for-profit and the non-profit media outlets that compete for these awards.”

    Peter Mayer

    At n+1, Mark Krotov remembers publisher Peter Mayer, who died on May 11th at the age of eighty-two. Mayer was the publisher of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses and founder of the Overlook Press. Krotov writes, “He was known for his charm, his temper, his savvy, his smoking, and for the relentless dynamism he brought to an industry that often preferred to react or sit still.”

    Tonight at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, Mary Gaitskill will read from and discuss her collection of essays, Somebody With a Little Hammer.