• March 14, 2017

    Marilynne Robinson. Photo: Kelly Ruth Winter

    Marilynne Robinson will publish an essay collection with Virago. What Are We Doing Here? aims to figure out “how America should talk about itself now,” and will be published in 2018.

    Pam Colloff is leaving Texas Monthly for a joint position at the New York Times and ProPublica. Colloff will stay in Texas while she serves as a senior reporter at ProPublica, and a writer-at-large for the New York Times Magazine.

    The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza has been hired by CNN Politics as a reporter and editor at large. At the Post, Cillizza created The Fix, a political analysis blog. Of the move, Cillizza said that he’s ready to take on whatever is thrown at him. “I don’t think it has to be The Fix 2.0,” he told Politico. “CNN has built a lot of good stuff already. They certainly don’t need me to dictate anything.”

    New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman points out that the person with the most to gain from former US Attorney Preet Bharara’s firing last weekend was Rupert Murdoch. Bharara had been investigating the company for numerous crimes, including illegally obtaining journalists’ phone records and possibly committing mail and wire fraud through their settlements with the women who accused Roger Ailes of sexual harassment. One of the shortlisted replacements for Bharara is Marc Mukasey, Ailes personal lawyer, leading many to believe that the firing was carried out to undermine the investigation. A grand jury has already been convened, however, and is expected to hear evidence in the next few days.

    At a press briefing yesterday, Sean Spicer asked reporters for thoughts on which charity Trump should donate his salary to, a campaign promise that Spicer says the president intends to keep, but has yet to follow through on.“He has kindly asked that you all help determine where that goes,” Spicer told the press pool. “The way that we can avoid scrutiny is to let the press corps determine where it should go.”

    At the New Yorker, Andrew Marantz asks, “Is Trump trolling the White House press corps?” Marantz follows Lucian Wintrich, the newly-credentialed White House reporter for the Gateway Pundit, a conservative news website known for spreading false stories. Wintrich doesn’t get to ask any questions at the press briefings he attends with Marantz, but spends his time posing for photos at the briefing room’s podium, googling himself, and honing an unasked question about Fidel Castro that he hopes will embarrass Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Wintrich wasn’t present for Trump’s February diatribe against the media, but Marantz points out that his attendance probably wasn’t necessary. “After all,” he writes, “the man in control of the press conference was the world’s most gifted media troll, the President of the United States.”

  • March 13, 2017

    Isabel Allende is working on a new novel. The book tells the story of a car accident in Brooklyn that becomes “the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story.” In the Midst of Winter will be published by Atria next fall.

    Brit Bennett

    Brit Bennett’s debut novel, The Mothers, will be made into a film. The adaptation was bought by Warner Bros. Actress Kerry Washington will produce the movie, and Bennett will write the script.

    Mark Halperin and John Heilemann announced plans for a third book in their Game Change series. The next installment will cover the 2016 presidential election and will also be adapted into a miniseries by HBO.

    At the Washington Post, Paul Farhi reflects on the slippery slope of partisan news organizations being included in the White House press pool. Last Thursday, a reporter employed by The Daily Signal, a website run by conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, was responsible for covering Vice President Mike Pence and supplying details to the rest of the press corps. Farhi writes that the website’s inclusion in the pool could lead to other think tanks requesting press credentials. “These groups could argue that they, too, qualify for White House press credentials and pool shifts,” he writes. “The slope could become even more slippery if extremist or racist organizations sought similar status.” The Daily Signal’s Rob Bluey responded that there is no reason one of their reporters shouldn’t be included in the pool, as their conservative leanings don’t affect “the fairness and accuracy” of their journalism. Bluey also identified the real reason Farhi and others raised their concerns: “They want to delegitimize news outlets such as The Daily Signal to protect their cabal.”

    The Atlantic’s Rosie Gray profiles Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, who has been acting as an unofficial spokesman for the president since his election. The conservative media company had supported Trump from the beginning of his campaign, and Ruddy has spent time with the president, who he has known for the last two decades, at his Mar-a-Lago estate since his inauguration. Ruddy said that he felt that his close relationship with the president made him the right choice to defend Trump to the media. “I felt I had a comfort level with many in the press,” he said, “so I figured it might be a good thing for me to go out and talk about my relationship with the president and his ideas.”

    At a SXSW event, Nick Denton discussed Peter Thiel, freedom of the press, and life after Gawker. Denton said that he was glad that the company’s lawsuit with Hulk Hogan, which at some points was costing $1 million per month, was settled before the 2016 election, since Trump’s win made Thiel more powerful. “It’s probably wise not to be in a fight with him at this time,” Denton said. He also lamented the state of the web and social media. “Facebook makes me despise many of my friends and Twitter makes me hate the rest of the world,” he said. But Denton isn’t entirely pessimistic about the future. “Even if we’re full of despair over what the internet has become, it’s good to remind yourself when you’re falling down some Wikipedia hole or having a great conversation with somebody online—it’s an amazing thing,“ he said. ”In the habits that we enjoy, there are the seeds for the future. That’s where the good internet will rise up again.”

  • March 10, 2017

    Masha Gessen

    Masha Gessen will deliver this year’s Arthur Miller Lecture at the PEN World Voices Festival, which will be followed by a conversation between the journalist and Samantha Bee. The event will be held on May 7 at Cooper Union in New York.

    Dan Rather will publish a book of essays. Spurred by his viral Facebook posts on the election, the president, and the state of the country, What Unites Us will collect Rather’s thoughts on “the institutions that sustain us, . . . the values that have transformed us, . . . and the drive towards science and innovation that have made the United States great.” The book will be released by Algonquin in November.

    Former Secretary of State John Kerry announced plans for a memoir with Simon & Schuster. The book, which does not yet have a release date, will look at Kerry’s childhood in Europe, as well as his Navy service, Senate career, and 2004 presidential campaign. “I hope we can produce a good book that captures for readers not so much my story, but some of the lessons learned along the way,” Kerry said in a statement, “including lessons learned the hard way.”

    George W. Bush’s twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, will publish a joint memoir. Sisters First: Stories From Our Wild and Wonderful Life will be published by Grand Central this fall.

    At LitHub, Paul La Farge and Ed Park talk about their history of working together, the cult following of H. P. Lovecraft, and La Farge’s new book, The Night Ocean.

    Politico looks at the New York Daily News’s new-found tolerance of Trump. Although the tabloid was known for its anti-Trump covers, the Daily News has toned down its coverage under new editor Arthur Browne in order to keep subscribers happy. Joe Pompeo writes that the change has made staff “feel like the air has been sucked out of the room, and they are perhaps coming to terms with the notion that Trump is more popular with segments of their readership than they thought, even in deep blue New York.”

    The New York Times investigates whether Russian news site RT is simply the country’s version of BBC, or “the slickly produced heart of a broad, often covert disinformation campaign designed to sow doubt about democratic institutions and destabilize the West.”

  • March 9, 2017

    Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels are being adapted for television. The thirty-two part TV series will cover all four books and be directed by Italian filmmaker Saverio Costanzo. Shooting will begin in Italy this year, with the show set to arrive in late 2018. There is no word yet about an American distributor for the program.  

    Domenico Starnone

    At The Week, Lili Loofbourow tells “the tangled tale of two Italian literary giants”: Ferrante and Domenico Starnone. Starnone is married to Anita Raja, the author and translator who was outed last year as the writer behind Ferrante’s books. With his new novel, Ties, Starnone takes up a story that resembles that of Ferrante’s 2002 book, Days of Abandonment—both are about the dissolution of a family. As Loofbourow writes, “Starnone’s novel—which tells a remarkably similar story, but from the point of view of the husband and one of the kids—feels like a deliberate counterpoint. What would happen if the family Ferrante broke apart were to be unhappily soldered back together? What would happen if Ferrante’s story of the wife were told from the point of view of the husband and daughter instead?”

    At Lit Hub, Philippa Snow writes about the “adolescent charm” of poetry by celebrities including James Franco, Kristen Stewart, and Lindsay Lohan.

    DNAinfo has purchased the Gothamist network of websites, which cover local stories in five US cities. As the New York Times points out, the merger is likely to cause a culture clash: DNAinfo is owned by staunch conservative Joe Ricketts, while Gothamist, as the Times says, “features snappy writing and reporting on issues that appeal to the left-leaning populations in the cities it covers.” Soon after the sale was announced, negative stories about Ricketts disappeared from Gothamist sites.

    Tonight at KGB Bar in Manhattan, André Aciman, Nicole Krauss, Eric Puchner, and Tom McAllister will read as part of the venue’s Behind the Book series.

  • March 8, 2017

    The finalists for the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award have been announced. At the Washington Post, Ron Charles reflects on the America represented by the nominees. “There was a time,” he writes, “when all the stars of American literature seemed to be straight white guys named John.” But this year’s finalists—Garth Greenwell, Sunil Yapa, and Imbolo Mbue, Viet Dinh, and Louise Erdrich—are “a sign of how far we’ve progressed from those monochromatic days.”

    Penguin Random House imprint Crown will publish the memoirs of both Barack and Michelle Obama. Crown was the likely choice for the Obamas’ next books, as they had previously published both of Barack Obama’s books, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope, as well as Michelle Obama’s American Grown.

    John le Carré

    John le Carré is bringing back George Smiley and his secret service colleagues in a new novel. A Legacy of Spies follows Smiley’s mentee Peter Guillam and his fellow retired spies as they “are subject to scrutiny for past misdemeanours, committed at a time when there were fewer scruples about the methods used to win the ideological war raging between the west and the Soviets.” The book will be published by Viking in September.

    After WikiLeaks released a trove of documents about CIA hacking tools, The Atlantic’s Kaveh Waddell wonders if, due to questions about the group’s ties to Russia and their role in the election, journalists should be more wary of the site’s information. “Does the gravity of the documents contained in the CIA leak necessitate reporting on them,” he asks, “even before they’re thoroughly vetted?” Waddell points out that even if journalists haven’t become more skeptical of the provided documents, WikiLeaks has changed its strategy anyway. In addition to a well-written press release, the organization also took care to redact more sensitive information and offer reporters a frequently-asked-questions section, with reassurances for writers who worry that other outlets will “find all the best stories before me.” Waddell writes that the new tone makes the site sound “less like a purveyor of newsworthy documents and more like an exclusive club that will only accept reporters who complete a scavenger hunt to the organization’s satisfaction,” Waddell writes. “And the race has already begun.”

    At n+1, Dayna Tortorici makes a case for supporting the women’s strike today. Tortorici writes that women’s work has been trivialized for centuries, and while there are myriad excuses as to why, “the real reason we devalue women’s work is because women are the ones who do it.” She points to the wage drops that happen when women start working in previously male-dominated industries, as well as the wage increases that occur in previously female-dominated sectors as men enter the field. “Why do employers pay women less money than men? Because they can. Why do women tolerate it? Because we’re accustomed to losing,” Tortorici explains. “The strike is an opportunity to collectively refuse what some would choose to see as inevitable.”

  • March 7, 2017

    The husband of Labour Party politician Jo Cox, who was murdered last summer, will publish a memoir about her life. Brendan Cox said that the book was difficult to write, but “in an era of growing hatred and division I wanted to tell the story of someone who brought love and empathy to everyone she met.” Jo Cox: More in Common will be published by Two Roads on June 15.

    The New York Times profiles Turkish novelist Asli Erdogan, who was imprisoned for six months and is now living with her mother in Istanbul while awaiting trial. Erdogan, who is not related to the Turkish president, was charged with supporting terrorism for serving as an adviser to a now-closed newspaper connected to the Kurdish movement. Erdogan says that she is now recognized on the street, and while that sometimes leads to “curses and lectures on patriotism,” it can also be positive. “Sometimes people put their arms on me and cry . . . I receive lots of love,” she said. “That is a big responsibility.”

    Jacqueline Woodson. Photo: Marty Umans

    The National Book Foundation announced the judges for the 2017 National Book Award yesterday. Fiction award judges include Dave Eggers, Jacqueline Woodson, Alexander Chee, while the nonfiction panel includes Jeff Chang, Ruth Franklin, and Paula J. Giddings. The deadline for submissions for the prize is May 17.

    The Paris Review has awarded the Plimpton Prize for Fiction to Alexia Arthurs for her 2016 story, “Bad Behavior.” The magazine also awarded the Terry Southern Prize, which honors “humor, wit, and sprezzatura,” to Vanessa Davis for her comic series, “Summer Hours.”

    Steven Spielberg has signed on to direct The Post, a film about the Washington Post’s fight to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Tom Hanks will play the role of Post editor Ben Bradley, while Meryl Streep will star as publisher Kay Graham.

    At the Post, Erik Wemple wonders if White House reporters will be able to keep up with Trump. Wemple cites Trump’s most recent tweetstorm last Saturday as an example of the president keeping writers and editors on their toes, even on the weekend. At the New York Times, reporters work in teams of two from 6am until midnight for the duration of their “duty week,” after which they are assigned to less-intense coverage roles. Elisabeth Bumiller, the Washington bureau chief for the Times, says that this has become standard operating procedure for most organizations covering the White House. “It is completely unpredictable . . . and it’s relentless,” Bumiller said. “We’ve never covered this kind of a president before.”

    Tonight at the Brooklyn Public Library, Pankaj Mishra talks about his new book, Age of Anger.

  • March 6, 2017

    Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan announced her next novel today. Manhattan Beach follows Anna Kerrigan, “the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s only female driver,” and her mafia-boss father during World War II. The book will be published by Scribner in October.

    Fox News anchor Heather Nauert has been named State Department spokeswoman, becoming the second staffer from the network to be hired at the agency. Nauert was most recently on Fox & Friends, a “program that is one of Trump’s favorites.”

    The Huffington Post looks into The Camp of the Saints, the 1973 French novel often referred to by Steve Bannon during discussions on immigration. A “cult favorite on the far right,” the book tells the story of refugees who arrive in France by boat and the “defenders of the white christian supremacy” that attempt to keep them out. When the book was released in the US in 1975, one Kirkus Review wrote, “The publishers are presenting The Camp of the Saints as a major event, and it probably is, in much the same sense that Mein Kampf was a major event.”

    Liz Spayd examines the gender disparities in the New York Times’s newsroom. Spayd writes that “women have skidded down the power structure since Jill Abramson was dismissed as executive editor three years ago.” Although multiple women were recently added to the masthead, Spayd notes that men make up the top leadership of the paper, and outnumber women as reporters and columnists. Spayd concludes that “if more seats are to be taken up by women . . . it will be up to men to make that happen. They are, after all, the ones with the power to do so.”

    Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. Photo: Chris Boland

    The Guardian talks to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about feminism, raising her daughter between two countries, and her new book, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. Adichie responded to charges that a previous collaboration with Christian Dior on t-shirts that read “We should all be feminists” went against feminist ideology. “The creative director of Christian Dior is obviously a woman of some privilege. But does it then mean that she doesn’t have gender-based problems in her life? Because she does” Adichie said. “Was it going to make the world a better place? No. But I think there’s a level of consciousness-raising and a level of subversion that I like.” Adichie also says that the idea of using feminism as “a marketing ploy” is amusing to her. “Sorry. Feminism is not that hot,” she said. “I can tell you I would sell more books in Nigeria if I stopped and said I’m no longer a feminist.”

    Tonight at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York, WNYC’s Brian Lehrer hosts a panel on immigration in Trump’s America.

  • March 3, 2017

    At The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance explores the timing of the contemporary news cycle, asking, “Why Do the Big Stories Keep Breaking at Night?”

    Tina Brown

    A book based on the diaries Tina Brown kept during her eight years as editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair will be published in November. Brown, who was head of the magazine from 1984 to 1992, says that when she revisited the journals, she “rediscovered how madcap those days were—how chancy, how new, how supercharged.” Henry Holt publisher Stephen Rubin assures readers that the book will have plenty of juicy gossip, promising that Brown will “spill some dirt on some of the flamboyant explosions around her, many of which she ignited herself. This will be a tell-all for the centuries.”

    A lawsuit stemming from BuzzFeed’s publication of the Steele dossier, the unverified document alleging ties between Donald Trump and the Russian government, has been moved to federal court. The suit claims that BuzzFeed libeled Aleksej Gubarev, a tech executive whose name appeared in the document (and which BuzzFeed redacted and later apologized for including).

    At Page-Turner, George Saunders considers the work of Grace Paley, the late author and activist, whose collected writings will be published next month. When you are reading Paley, Saunders writes, “A world is appearing before you that is richer and stranger than you could possibly have imagined, and that world gains rooms and vistas and complications with every phrase. What you are experiencing is intimate contact with an extraordinary intelligence, which causes the pleasant sensation of one’s personality receding and being replaced by the writer’s consciousness.”

    At the New York Times, Ta Nehisi-Coates talks about his Marvel Comics series, “Black Panther,” and the way that politics has always shaped comics: “When you take a book like Spider-Man or Daredevil and the big thing is crime fighting, I don’t think that’s distant from the time when those characters were created. During that period, we had this rising crime, and the city was seen a certain way in a way that Manhattan is not seen today. Even the decision to create Black Panther: It was not an apolitical decision to have this black character in Africa, in this advanced nation, and have him be highly intelligent. All of these were political decisions.”

  • March 2, 2017

    The Evergreen Review has been reborn as an online publication. The legendary magazine, which was started in 1957 by Barney Rosset and folded in 1973, published works by the likes of Samuel Beckett, William S. Burroughs, Susan Sontag and many other notable contributors. The new version is headed by editor-in-chief Dale Peck and published by John Oakes of OR Books. Peck says he plans to make the revived magazine “an international forum for un-sayable things.”

    ABC News president James Goldston has reacted to a petition signed by more than two-hundred ABC staffers, calling on the network to boycott White House press conferences if any outlets are barred from attending: “We’ve expressed our concerns to the White House that it operates in a way that’s open, transparent and fair. . . . And we will continue to stand with our colleagues who cover the White House and to protest when any government official fails to live up to those standards.”

    Katie Kitamura. Photo: Sophie Fiennes.

    Tonight at Greenlight Books in Brooklyn, Katie Kitamura discusses her new novel, A Separation, with Rivka Galchen.

    At the Rumpus, Lauren Elkin talks about her new book, Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London. Describing her subject, Elkin says, “Flânerie is always political, but the flâneuse is more aware of this. She has to be. . . . If you’re born into the center of the culture you can fetishize the margins, but if you’re born on the margins you have to do what you can to get along.”

    Yesterday would have been Robert Lowell’s one-hundredth birthday. At The Guardian, Max Liu makes the case for the poet’s continued importance: “It’s not always easy to feel sympathy for an artist with a trust fund and whose family have their own graveyard. But Lowell knew he was privileged, and the beauty and specificity with which he describes his world creates space for the reader to reflect on their own experience.”  


  • March 1, 2017

    Michelle and Barack Obama

    Barack and Michelle Obama have sold the world rights to their forthcoming books to Penguin Random House. The deal was made after an intense bidding war in which offers from Penguin, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster reportedly went over $60 million, with the times reporting that the number “stretched well into eight figures.” Although the amount has yet to be confirmed, it will likely be a historic amount for memoirs from a president and first lady—Bill and Hillary Clinton’s post-presidency books sold for a combined $18 million. The Times notes that President Obama’s memoir “could provide a chance to reframe and highlight the former president’s legacy, at a moment when a new Republican administration is making an effort to dismantle some of his signature legislation.”

    Ursula K. Le Guin, Junot Diaz, and Ann Patchett were among fourteen new members inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters this week. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith were added as honorary members. The official induction ceremony will be held in May.

    BuzzFeed investigates how “hyperpartisan political news gets made.” After looking at nearly identical articles on Kellyanne Conway’s alleged TV ban from websites Liberal Society and Conservative 101—which are owned by the same parent company—Craig Silverman concludes that “all it takes to turn a liberal partisan story into a conservative one is to literally change a few words.”

    At Der Spiegel Veit Medick profiles Alex Jones, the Infowars host and conspiracy theorist who claims to talk regularly on the phone with Trump. Among other things, Jones believes that gay marriage is a conspiracy “to get rid of God,” and that “the government possesses weather weapons it can use to create artificial tornadoes.” According to Medick, “there is no subject on which Jones does not have his own version of the truth to offer, one supported by no facts whatsoever.”

    CNN has confirmed that they will attend this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The news organization will bring journalism students as their guests instead of celebrities. In a statement, CNN said, “We feel there is no better way to underscore our commitment to the health and longevity of a free press than to celebrate its future.”

    Tonight at Symphony Space, authors and actors pay tribute to Clarice Lispector.