• November 12, 2018

    Publishers Weekly has released its latest annual publishing survey, which looks at racial diversity pay compensation by gender, and salary increases. The survey also asks employees if they have been sexually harassed in the workplace, and looks at how many companies have sexual-harassment policies.

    Juris Jurjevics—the novelist and editor who founded Soho Press—has died. While working at Dial Press, he edited James Baldwin’s final novel, Just Above My Head.

    Following the death of book critic Christopher Lehmann-Haupt last week, the Times has posted some of his most memorable reviews—of Portnoy’s Complaint, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Our Bodies, Ourselves, and more.

    In a new editorial, Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, writes about the disturbing biases embedded in the technology of recent criminal justice reforms: “Under new policies in California, New Jersey, New York and beyond, ‘risk assessment’ algorithms recommend to judges whether a person who’s been arrested should be released. These advanced mathematical models—or ‘weapons of math destruction” as data scientist Cathy O’Neil calls them—appear colorblind on the surface but they are based on factors that are not only highly correlated with race and class, but are also significantly influenced by pervasive bias in the criminal justice system. As O’Neil explains, ‘It’s tempting to believe that computers will be neutral and objective, but algorithms are nothing more than opinions embedded in mathematics.’”

    Bookforum contributor A.S. Hamrah’s new book of film criticism, The Earth Dies Screaming, which is being published by n+1, is out now.

    Heather Chavez’s debut novel, No Bad Deed, was a buzz book at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. This week, William Morrow purchased the novel for a rumored mid-six-figure price. According to Chavez’s agent, the book is a thriller “in the vein of Harlan Coben” about “a mom who’s on the hunt for her missing husband while she’s trying to protect her kids from a killer who knows too much about her own dark family history.”

    The Holocaust diary of Renia Spiegel—who was shot in Poland days after her eighteenth birthday—is being published in English for the first time.

  • November 9, 2018

    Nicolas Mathieu

    The 2018 Goncourt Prize has been awarded to Nicolas Mathieu for his novel Leurs Enfants Aprè Eux. The book, “a portrait of teenagers growing up in a forgotten, hopeless region of France in the 1990s,” will be published in the US by Other Press late next year. “It is quite a vertigo moment. . . . Writing is a lonely activity, and suddenly I am in the middle of the spotlight,” Mathieu told the New York Times in an interview. “It’s quite disturbing, but it’s good for the book.”

    Later this month, Vintage Books will republish Fletcher Knebel’s Night of Camp David, a 1965 political thriller about “an unhinged American president who falls prey to his own paranoia and conspiratorial fantasies.”

    “It was startling to see the issues around power imbalances and assault I had been writing about every day suddenly all over the news,” Those Who Knew author Idra Novey says of publishing her new book, which she began writing in 2014. “I started this novel long before a man who bragged about groping women became president and the silencing of victims of sexual assault became an international conversation.”

    David Simon’s six-episode miniseries based on Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America will air on HBO, Variety reports.  

    Vice Media has instituted a hiring freeze and is hoping to reduce staff by 15 percent, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company will also consolidate its numerous vertical sites.  

    Two upcoming panels at a Hong Kong cultural center that featured exiled Chinese writer Ma Jian have been canceled, the New York Times reports. The events were part of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival. Along with the recent shut down of the one of the city’s last bookstores to sell banned books, the cancelation is seen as “the latest sign of eroding freedoms in the city.” “Before, Hong Kong was a haven for arts and literature — a place where we felt like we could hide from China and find true freedom of thought,” Ma said. “But now that era is slowly disappearing.”

  • November 8, 2018

    New York Times book critic and obituary writer Christopher Lehmann-Haupt has died at the age of eighty-four. Lehmann-Haupt worked at the paper for over thirty years, during which he wrote 4,000 essays and reviews. “Readers and colleagues called him a judicious, authoritative voice on fiction and a seemingly boundless array of history, biography, current events and other topics, with forays into Persian archaeology and fly fishing,” writes Robert D. McFadden.

    New York Review of Books contributors have signed an open letter condemning the Trump administration’s continued detention of migrant children who have been separated from their parents. “This generation will be remembered for having allowed for concentration camps for children to be built on ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave,’ write contributors including Margaret Atwood, Elif Batuman, Deborah Eisenberg, and more. “This is happening here and now, but not in our names.”

    Nicole Chung. Photo: Erica B. Tappis

    At The Rumpus, Nicole Chung talks to Crystal Hana Kim about memory, family, and her new memoir, All You Can Ever Know.

    LitHub talks to 2018 National Book Award in Nonfiction finalists Victoria Johnson and Colin G. Calloway.

    Former congressman Steve Israel writes about the struggles of being an author on book tour, which to him was worse than his experience as a political figure. “As a congressman I’d stand in a room with hundreds of supporters, gripping and being gripped, posing for selfies, signing autographs. . . .  I’d go to the House floor, stride to the podium and give a speech that was watched on C-Span by, well, hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of people. I was even recognized in airports,” he writes. “Now I’m like the guy sitting at a flea market folding table, watching people pass him by, oblivious to his World’s Greatest Dad hand-painted mugs.”

    Tonight at Symphony Space in New York, John Cameron Mitchell and Karen Pittman read new works of fiction by George Saunders and Zadie Smith.

  • November 7, 2018

    Haruki Murakami is donating his manuscripts and other items to his alma mater, Waseda University. According to Japan Times, the donation includes translated versions of his work and his record collection. “I don’t have any children, and it would cause trouble for me if those materials became scattered or lost,” Murakami explained in a press conference.

    Ottessa Moshfegh

    Alice Quinn is resigning from her position as executive director of the Poetry Society of America.

    Time magazine editor in chief Edward Felsenthal has been chosen as the company’s CEO by new owners Marc and Lynne Benioff. Felsenthal will continue to serve as editor in chief.

    Jonathan Lethem talks to CrimeReads about his new novel, The Feral Detective.

    Ottessa Moshfegh talks to Guernica about Kurt Cobain, sadness, and why she set her most recent novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, in 2000 instead of the present day. “I didn’t realize I had set it then until it became apparent that I was describing a New York pre-9/11, when there was still a sense of optimism,” she explained. “The more practical reason was that if I’d set the story now, the character’s decision to go into hibernation would be a very obvious response to what’s happening in her environment politically and socially.”

    Tonight at the New York Public Library, Ruth Franklin, Wayne Koestenbaum, and John Williams gather to celebrate the work of Lucia Berlin.

  • November 6, 2018

    Leslie Jamison lists her favorite books about drinking. “They aren’t chronicles of the way many people can drink,” she explains, “but stories that have made me feel less alone in the way I used to drink: desperately, repetitively, often gracelessly, delivered constantly back into the dingy storeroom of the self.”

    Don DeLillo talks to The Guardian about his next book, the national news cycle, and the difference between writing novels and plays.

    Jelani Cobb

    “If you stay home, count yourself among the hundreds of thousands now being disenfranchised by the relentless parade of restrictions that Republicans everywhere are imposing and enforcing,” writes New Yorker editor Roger Angell as he implores readers to vote in the midterm elections today. “If you don’t vote, they have won, and you are a captive, one of their prizes.”

    The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan looks at how the press has failed to improve their coverage of Trump in the lead-up to the midterms. “We’re more careful about tossing around predictions based on our none-too-savvy interpretations of public opinion polls. . . . We’ve made fact-checking President Trump into a necessary cottage industry. And we’ve gotten over our hesitance to use the L word — lie — about his escalating falsehoods,” she writes. “But there’s still one overarching problem: Too many journalists allow Trump to lead them around by the nose.”

    “The media exists in a climate of unprecedented hostility. The relationship between the White House and the press, frequently rocky, has devolved into a circumstance in which the president of the United States has referred to us as the ‘enemy of the people.’ Trump’s attacks are facilitated by the fact that, in the past two decades, trust in the media has plummeted,” writes Jelani Cobb at the Columbia Journalism Review on the importance of newsroom diversity. “At least some portion of that distrust is a product of people who rarely see themselves or their stories depicted in the media they consume. A great deal must be done to rebuild public trust. But it can begin by including the voices of all Americans. The press, tasked with protecting American democracy, is best secured by reflecting the American people.”

  • November 5, 2018

    Kapka Kassabova

    Kapka Kassabova

    Kapka Kassabova has won the British Academy’s Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, which honors “an outstanding contribution to global cultural understanding that illuminates the interconnections and divisions that shape cultural identity worldwide.” Kassabova is the author of Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe, a hard-to-classify meditation on territory surrounding the intersections of Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria. In the book, Kassabova roams “this ‘back door to Europe’ in an effort to find out, up close, what borders do to people, and vice versa. Her book is a deconstruction of the looming, nonspecific anxiety that comes from continually having to justify your right to exist on one or another side of a line.”

    Hong Kong’s the People’s Books Cafe, the last known bookshop selling titles banned by the Communist Party in China, has been closed. According to The Guardian, sources say the shop closed “under pressure from the government.” This follows the detention of five city booksellers in 2015, who were shut down for their associations with a publisher of books that were critical about China’s leadership.

    Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple is being adapted for the screen again—this time as a musical. Oprah Winfrey, who starred in the original film version directed by Stephen Spielberg, is one of the new movie’s producers.

    Jane Cockram has sold her debut novel, The House of Birds, in a high-six-figure deal to Sara Nelson at Harper. Nelson purchased the book in a preemptive deal from Rob Weisbach at Rob Weisbach Creative Management. In a statement, Harper says the novel follows a woman to an estate described famously by her mother in a memoir. There, she “discovers a world of family secrets tied to the past that may have the power to change her future.”

    The New York Times reports that it has passed the milestone of 4 million subscribers, with more than 3 million digital subscriptions and more than 1 million print. The company has also reported a net income of about $24.9 million in the past year. The majority of paper’s income is being generated by readers themselves: “This quarter, subscription revenues accounted for nearly two-thirds of the company’s revenues,” Mark Thompson, the chief executive and president, said in a press release. “We’re investing aggressively in our journalism, product and marketing and are seeing tangible results in our digital growth.”

  • 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.