• February 20, 2018

    Carmen Maria Machado talks to Guernica about short stories, queer identity, and why memoir writing scares her. “With memoir, there is no place to hide; the screen of fiction is gone and it feels really naked, really vulnerable,” she said. “I’m afraid people are going to ask me all kinds of overly personal questions when it comes out.”

    Carmen Maria Machado. Photo: Tom Storm.

    A new algorithm developed at the University of Illinois and the University of California at Berkeley suggests that women were better represented in nineteenth-century novels than they have been in more modern fiction. The academics in charge of the study expected to see an increase, but they found the opposite. “From the 19th century through the early 1960s we see a story of steady decline,” write Ted Underwood, David Bamman and Sabrina Lee in their paper “The Transformation of Gender in English-Language Fiction,” which is in the new issue of the Journal of Cultural Analytics.

    Entertainment Weekly has posted an excerpt from Somaiya Daud’s forthcoming debut novel Mirage, which is inspiring raves in the YA community. “Mirage is full of characters who feel like they existed long before the story began, and a rich world that is as beautiful as it is cruel,” writes Divergent author Veronica Roth. “Somaiya Daud is a rare talent. A smart, romantic, exciting debut.”

    At The Baffler, Chris Lehmann laments the state of the contemporary op-ed page: “In a fragmented market for political commentary, driven largely by social-media renown, writers are brands, and their passing stabs at argument and analysis are glorified ad slogans.”

    As if on cue, David Brooks has weighed in with an op-ed on gun violence in America. To stop the mass shootings, Brooks opines, we must first “show respect to gun owners.” Twitter isn’t having it. Among many tweets criticizing Brooks, Philip Gourevitch tweeted that Brooks “proposes a bridge to nowhere — with lots of safe spaces along the way for gun owners to feel unthreatened while the people who don’t like being shot dead apologize for antagonizing them by advocating for life-saving policies.”

  • February 19, 2018

    The New York Times reports on the case of Curtis Dawkins, a Michigan prisoner who sold a short story collection while serving a life sentence and is now being sued by the state for the cost of his incarceration.

    Francisco Cantú. Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

    The Guardian talks to Francisco Cantú about the border patrol, immigration policy, and how writing can inspire change. “Writing is where I see myself being able to do the most meaningful work,” he said. “I still see it as a tool for exploring all the questions that I still have, about the way that violence is normalised in a society.”

    Mark Konkol, who was hired as the editor of the Chicago Reader at the end of January, has been fired.

    Jim Waterson has been hired as media editor at The Guardian. Waterson was most recently BuzzFeed UK’s political editor.

    At Wired, May Jeong profiles Peter Madsen, the Danish engineer who was arrested for the murder of journalist Kim Wall.

  • February 16, 2018

    To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Man Booker prize, the organization will award a “Golden” Man Booker prize to one of fifty-one previous winners. 1981 winner Salman Rushdie “is likely a favourite to win,” The Guardian reports, “having already won the Best of Booker award in 2008, to mark the prize’s 40th anniversary, and the Booker of Bookers in 1993, for its 25th birthday.” The shortlist will be revealed in May.

    Ailsa Chang

    NPR has hired two new hosts. Ailsa Chang is joining All Things Considered, while Noel King will work on Morning Edition and the Up First podcast.

    Congressman John Lewis is working on a second set of graphic novels about his life and career. The first book of the Run trilogy will be published in August.

    Former New Republic owner Chris Hughes talks to Time about his new book, Starbucks coffee, and whether Mark Zuckerberg would make a good president. “I don’t think that is something that he is so interested in,” Hughes said. “We have a businessman taking the helm of the government, and it turns out that a lot of the experience that you need to be in that seat comes from being in the public sector and civil society.”

    After New York Times employee complaints about Opinions staff editor Bari Weiss were leaked to HuffPost, editorial page editor James Bennett wrote a lengthy memo to staff, asking that any criticism be made privately. “Whether you disagree with some of our many viewpoints or not — surely you will — please understand that your colleagues in Opinion are committed to ideals that matter, to fair play, tolerance, pluralism, the free exchange of ideas and intellectual challenge,” Bennett wrote. “They, like you, are committed to helping The Times achieve its highest purposes.”


  • February 15, 2018

    DeRay Mckesson

    Civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson is writing a book. On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope, which will be published by Viking next September, examines “how deliberate oppression persists, how racial injustice strips our lives of promise, and how technology has added a new dimension to mass action and social change.”

    The Washington Post is opening two new international bureaus, one in Hong Kong and another in Rome. The paper has also hired a second correspondent for its Mexico City bureau.

    PEN America has awarded the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award to Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters journalists who were jailed in Myanmar for investigating and reporting on the Inn Din massacre.

    Journalist Steve Coll talks about his new book, Directorate S.

    USA Today has hired Nicole Carroll as the paper’s editor in chief. Carroll was most recently the vice president of news and editor of the Arizona Republic.

    Evan Ramstad reflects on the difficulties in reporting on North Korea and the media savvy of the country’s leaders, most recently on display at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. “To advance its message and control its image, the North Korean government combines outrageous behavior with draconian limits on media access. It also benefits from the willingness of competitive news organizations to lower their reporting standards in return for access to a place that is exotic, scary, bizarre and even entertaining,” he writes. “Unfortunately, often enough, it has been able to count on journalists’ shortcuts and short memories for some extra polishing of its reputation in the world.”

    Tonight at McNally Jackson, Liza Featherstone presents her new book, Divining Desire.


  • February 14, 2018

    Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin is writing a new book, to be published by Simon & Schuster next fall. Leadership explores the “unique journeys” of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson and “analyzes how they emerged to confront the challenges and contours of their times.”

    Angela Y. Davis

    A former Vice Media employee has filed a class-action pay discrimination lawsuit against the company. Elizabeth Rose, who worked as a project manager at Vice from 2014 to 2016, “received internal memos that showed the salaries of about 35 Vice media employees,” which revealed a gender pay gap. In one example, the Los Angeles Times reports that “Rose learned that a male subordinate — whom she hired — made about $25,000 more per year than her.”

    Angela Y. Davis’s papers have been acquired by the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library at Harvard. The collection includes more than one hundred boxes of items “including correspondence, photographs, unpublished speeches,” and more.

    Yesterday, the New York Times announced that Quinn Norton was joining its editorial board, only to fire her later that day “after a history of homophobic and racially insensitive tweets were uncovered.”

    In the inaugural Lit Hub Author Questionnaire, Teddy Wayne talks to Francisco Cantú, Gabrielle Birkner, Tim Kreider, Rachel Lyon, and Sigrid Nunez about their new books. “Without using complete sentences,” the authors describe what their lives were like while they were writing their books. Cantú was at “weekly sessions with a Jungian psychoanalyst,” while Lyon was “living with three roommates and as many cats in a Brooklyn apartment, and Nunez was dealing with “crippling anxiety over the rise of Trump, desolation and apocalyptic fears, [and] shame at the triumph of misogyny over decency.”

  • February 13, 2018

    Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo speculates on which of Time Inc’s titles will be sold by Meredith Corporation first. Most observers agree that Sports Illustrated is most likely to be sold quickly as “it is undoubtedly the sorest thumb in a stable that serves a predominantly female audience—the Better Homes and GardensReal SimpleRachael Ray Every Day demographic,” writes Pompeo.

    Lucinda Williams. Photo: Dina Regine

    Lucinda Williams is working on a memoir that covers “her childhood in the South to how she became a late bloomer success in the music industry.” The untitled book will be published by Henry Holt in 2020.

    The Trump administration is attempting to eliminate funding for the National Endowment of the Arts again.

    Eric Thurm reflects on the unexpected media criticism found in HBO’s High Maintenance.

    Ben Brantley visits the Morgan Library & Museum’s “Tennessee Williams: No Refuge but Writing,” an exhibition of the playwright’s manuscripts, paintings, and other personal items.

    Wired looks at the turmoil inside Facebook over the last two years, starting with the destruction of the website’s Trending Topics team, through the 2016 election, and the company’s attempts to fix the mess they created.

    Peter Thiel will not be participating in a previously-scheduled SXSW panel. Thiel was supposed to talk with author Ryan Holiday about orchestrating “a nearly decade long conspiracy that culminated in the bankruptcy and closure of Gawker” and what the site’s shutdown means for “privacy . . . culture [and] the future of the free press.”

  • February 12, 2018

    Jeanine Pirro

    Jeanine Pirro

    Jeanine Pirro, the Fox News mainstay and friend of Donald Trump, has reportedly been considering the possibility of writing a book that rebukes Michael Wolff’s bestselling White House expose/takedown Fire and Fury. Sources say that Pirro has discussed the book with Trump, whom she has visited frequently at the White House. The president has agreed to be interviewed by Pirro. It is currently unclear if Pirro’s forthcoming book, Liars, Leakers, and Liberals, which is due out in June, will serve as the foundation for this Trump-boosting tome, or if Pirro will be starting a new book entirely.

    As part of its “How I’m Making It” series, Fasionista interviews author Choire Sicha about his rise from “amateur blogger” to editor of the New York Times Style section. He’s optimistic about the future of journalism and publishing: “I think we’re actually right now on the cusp of something exciting, which is about membership, subscription, people paying their own way for media they want to support. I think we’re sort of seeing some of the great dalliances with Facebook and platform publishing coming a little bit to a close. I think that people are saying, ‘We actually have to stand on our own two feet and defend ourselves,’ and people want to pay for exciting, important journalism that changes the world or that entertains and amuses. They have shown they are willing to do that and we don’t need to depend on giant platform companies always intervening.”

    The National Book Foundation has announced the lineup for 2018’s “Eat, Drink, and Be Literary” series, which will start on March 13 with Hari Kunzru, and will continue through the spring with events featuring Valeria Luiselli (The Story of My Teeth), Kevin Young (Bunk), and Lorrie Moore (Birds of America). Tickets are on sale here.

    Michel Foucault’s unfinished book, Confessions of the Flesh, has been published by Gallimard in France. The book, which he was working on before his death in 1980, is the fourth volume in his “History of Sexuality” project, and considers thoughts about sexuality in early Christianity.

    The Washington Post has launched what it calls the “most comprehensive Bestselling Books list.” It is the first to “add subscription eBook data from Amazon to its Bestselling Books lists, offering readers the most comprehensive look at what books people are buying each week.”

  • February 9, 2018

    The New York Times’s books desk has hired Rumaan Alam as a special projects editor. Alam is a regular contributor to many sections of the paper, and his writing has been published by the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.

    The Los Angeles Times is discontinuing its book blog, Jacket Copy. When Jacket Copy was created ten years ago, writes Carolyn Kellogg, “Blogs were a thing then . . . a way to get news and commentary onto the internet quickly.” But now, as the newspaper has adapted to the digital age, separating print and web content has become unnecessary.

    Daniel Raeburn. Photo: Andrew Corrigan-Halpern

    Vessels author Daniel Raeburn reflects on the paradoxes of writing a memoir. “You’re walking a tricky balance beam. . . . You have to be confident in your telling of what happened, but not too confident about what it means,” he said. A good rule of thumb comes from Kafka, who said, ‘In the struggle between you and the world, you must side with the world.’”

    “In a nation full of political hobbyists, championing dystopian art has become a go-to for those who want to take a political stand without actually doing anything,” writes Brady Gerber at Literary Hub.

    At Politico, former Newsweek writer Matthew Cooper details his experience at the magazine, which recently removed several top editors and is being investigated for fraud.

    Pod Save America, the podcast created by former Obama White House staffers, will work with HBO to broadcast several TV specials from the 2018 midterms campaign trail. “The 2018 midterms are the most important elections of our lifetime, and the energy and excitement on the campaign trail is infectious,” podcast hosts Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor said in a statement. “We are so grateful that HBO is taking a chance on us, even though these live shows will have so few dragons and sex robots.”

  • February 8, 2018

    Jesmyn Ward

    Jesmyn Ward has signed a two book deal at Simon & Schuster. The first book is a still-untitled novel that “centers on an enslaved woman sent south from the Carolinas to New Orleans, site of the country’s largest slave market,” which will be published by Scribner. Ward will also write a young adult novel about “a black Southern female protagonist who possesses special powers,” which will be published by Caitlyn Dlouhy Books. Publication dates for the titles have not been announced.

    Edna O’Brien has won the PEN/Nabokov lifetime achievement award. The prize will be given to O’Brien at a ceremony later this month.

    At the New York Times, assistant managing editor Monica Drake discusses her twenty years at the paper, her new role, and how it feels to be the first black woman on the paper’s print masthead.

    The Light We Lost author Jill Santopolo is adapting her debut novel for film. The project will be produced by Southpaw Entertainment.

    Is “writing what you know” the best strategy? Literary Hub looks to thirty-one writers for the answer.

    As publishers give up on Facebook’s Instant Articles, the feature is being put to use by fake news sites to add legitimacy to their articles and allow them to load faster, BuzzFeed News reports.

    Former editors of DNAinfo Chicago are starting a local news website, Block Club Chicago. The site is expected to go live in April, and will rely on reader subscriptions.  Former DNAinfo deputy editor and social media director Jen Sabella, now director of strategy for Block Club Chicago, explained why, despite the notion that local news is dead, the site will be successful. “People want it, and we proved that with DNAinfo. What we didn’t do was give readers a chance to support us,” she said. “I’m so excited to try this again, and maybe I’m totally bonkers, but I think if you listen to your audience and provide reliable news that is relevant to their lives (and that you can’t find 1,000 other places), people will support it.”

    Tonight at McNally Jackson, Lisa Halliday discusses her new novel, Asymmetry.

  • February 7, 2018

    Megan Greenwell

    Megan Greenwell has been hired as the editor in chief of Deadspin, Gizmodo Media Group’s sports website. Greenwell, the first woman to take on the role, is replacing Tim Marchman, who now leads the company’s Special Projects desk.  

    Tyra Banks and her mother Carolyn London are writing a book together that will “get raw, real and cray-in-a-good-way.” Perfect is Boring will be published in April.

    International Business Times senior writer David Sirota has resigned from the company after the firing of top IBT and Newsweek staff.

    Tronc is likely selling the Los Angeles Times.  

    Tavis McGinn talks to The Verge about the six months he spent monitoring Mark Zuckerberg’s approval rating.

    At the Paris Review, Marissa Grunes reflects on Primitive Technology, “a Walden for the YouTube age.” The online series follows John Plant, an Australian man “who builds huts, weapons, and tools using only naturally occurring materials” and “wears only navy blue shorts, rarely looks at the camera, and never speaks.”

    An American Marriage author Tayari Jones tells the New York Times’s “By the Book” column about her ideal mystery book. “I like my dead body in Chapter 1, and then spending the rest of the novel figuring it out,” she said. “Motives should be love, money or revenge. Spare me the sick stuff.”

    Tonight, Wesley Morris and Zadie Smith discuss her new essay collection, Feel Free, at St. Ann’s church in Brooklyn.