• March 12, 2018

    Junot Diaz Islandborn

    Junot Diaz

    Junot Diaz says he wrote his new illustrated children’s book, Islandborn, for his goddaughters, who were, like the charcters in the book, born in the Dominican Republic and now live in the Bronx. “If kids of color can read about white characters in children’s books all day, the only thing preventing the reverse is a malign set of racial policies,” Diaz tells the Washington Post. “The white default is, in some ways, the cornerstone of white supremacy. It’s not some innocent issue.”

    At The Paris Review, poet and critic Stephanie Burt writes a letter to the future readers of Lucie Brock-Broido (Stay, Illusion), who died last week. “Just to read the poetry is to see—in its hypermetric lines, its cliff-face line breaks, its ‘gathering / Of foxes oddly standing still in the milk broth of oblivion’—how there was more to her and more in the poetry, more to consider (before reflecting) beautiful, and more to gather into the self for reflection than most poets, and most poetry, have in store.”

    Murmrr—the Brooklyn reading series that has brought us events featuring Dana Spiotta, George Saunders, Sheila Heti, and Chris Kraus—is selling tickets for its upcoming event with musician and author Nick Cave, who will engage in a discussion with the audience.

    According to Publishers Weekly, feminist bookstores are thriving in the Trump presidency.

    Ex-Navy Seal Will Mackin talks about his debut story collection, Bring Out the Dog. “The idea for this particular book came out of the sensory details of the wars. When I was deploying with a SEAL team in Iraq and Afghanistan, our mission was night raids, and we wore night vision. There was a disconnect between the actual image and the image I was seeing in the goggles, and in some of the transmission—I could hear the guy next to me speaking on the radio, and a few seconds later I’d hear his voice in my head on delay. The voice would sound different but all the words were the same.”

  • March 9, 2018

    Mitzi Angel. Photo: Oliver Holms

    Farrar, Straus and Giroux has appointed Faber & Faber publisher Mitzi Angel as its publisher. Angel will take over later this year for longtime publisher Jonathan Galassi, who will stay on as president and continue to acquire and edit books. “There’s that great line from ‘The Leopard’ where one of the characters says, ‘If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change,’” Galassi said of the decision. “Publishing has changed radically in the last 15 years, and we need to hold to the core of what we’re doing, but change what we’re publishing and how we publish.”

    Wendell Steavenson explains why she switched to novels.“I always wanted to write fiction, and though journalism wasn’t a detour, the first intention was always to write good stories.”

    Romance writers reflect on how the 2016 election changed their genre.

    At the Washington Post, Michael Lindgren looks at the nominees for the National Book Critics Circle’s criticism award, which “include no work by a white man.” Winners will be announced next week.

    Entertainment Weekly talks to Jhumpa Lahiri about her work translating Italian writer Domenico Starnone into English. The two met in Rome when Lahiri was living in the same apartment building as some of his relatives, which has made the translation process even more collaborative. “He’s my friend, and so I ask him stuff,” she explained. “If I’m here, I text him; if I’m in Rome, I go over to his house and bring my notebook and say ‘What about this word, what about that word, what did you mean by this?’”


  • March 8, 2018

    The Paris Review has announced the winners of the 2018 Plimpton and Terry Southern Prizes. Isabella Hammad, author of the short story “Mr. Can’aan,” has won the Plimpton Prize for Fiction and David Sedaris has won the Terry Southern Prize for Humor. Both writers will be honored in April alongside Hadada winner Joy Williams.

    Mary Gaitskill

    Mary Gaitskill says she plans to write about #MeToo in the form of fiction. “I can’t come up with a straight opinion about [the #MeToo movement],” she said. “I would prefer to write a story about it.”

    Simon & Schuster publisher Jonathan Karp has been promoted to president and publisher of the company’s adult publishing division.

    Blackrock Productions has bought the screen rights to Ryan Holiday’s Conspiracy. The company is currently deciding whether to develop the project for film or TV.

    Peter Thiel claims that he is only wants to buy Gawker in order to get Hulk Hogan money that he is still owed from the trial, and that he has no interest in taking the site offline. “I don’t want the archives,” he said. “I don’t think it makes sense to destroy them. Preserve them, study them instead.”

    The New York Times’s Farhad Manjoo reflects on the two months he spent getting his news from print newspapers alone, something he feels was “life changing.” “Turning off the buzzing breaking-news machine I carry in my pocket was like unshackling myself from a monster who had me on speed dial, always ready to break into my day with half-baked bulletins,” he writes. In the end, he came to a Michael Pollan–style revelation: “Get news. Not too quickly. Avoid social.”

  • 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.