• February 21, 2019

    Amanda Petrusich

    New Yorker music critic Amanda Petrusich talks to The Rumpus about critical authority, Twitter mobs, and snobbery. “My growth as a writer was unlearning that snobbishness and trying to cultivate more of a rawness in my relationship with the people who were reading me, if I was lucky enough to have anyone reading me,” she said of the evolution of music criticism. “I think it made me as a writer feel less alone, it made me feel like I was in conversation with a lot of other people in a way that I found really comforting and nice. But it was a shift in the way that I thought music criticism was supposed to be, which was ‘I’m gonna tell you what’s good because I’m smarter than you.’

    Former Gizmodo Media reporter Brendan O’Connor is working on “a book about immigration, capitalism, and the far right” with Haymarket Books.

    Carol Rosenberg, known for her work covering the prisoners and war court at Guantanamo Bay, is joining the New York Times as a national security reporter.

    At Wired, Zeynep Tufekci explores possible systems for verifying the authenticity of online articles, photos, and videos. “It’s harder than just showing the people an image of a print newspaper (if you can find one), because digital bits can easily be altered,” she writes. “As we shift from an era when realistic fakes were expensive and hard to create to one where they’re cheap and easy, we will inevitably adjust our norms.”

    The Daily Beast reports that CNN is defending its decision to hire Sarah Isgur Flores, the former spokesperson for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as a political editor at the company’s Washington bureau. CNN’s own Brian Stelter writes that “employees are concerned” about the news and are “questioning whether her sudden leap from the Trump administration to the CNN newsroom is an ethical breach.” “CNN seems to be doubling down on a ratings-first, fair-in-name-only approach to politics,” writes Margaret Sullivan at the Washington Post. “At a time when so many talented and experienced journalists are out of work because of layoffs in a teetering industry, this makes even less sense.”

  • February 20, 2019

    Lindsay Stern. Photo: Lee Stern

    New York Times Magazine staff writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner has sold a new book. “A family story of wealth and class and inheritance and dubious paternity,” Long Island Compromise was bought by Random House and does not yet have a publication date.

    “Gizmodo’s track record of skewering owners is scaring away bidders,” the New York Post reports. Sources say that Univision “could attract more buyers if it would rein in an editorial independence provision in Gizmodo’s union contract.” As one anonymous digital media CEO explained, “I specifically think about the post their special projects desk did on Univision as the sort of thing that makes the whole place feel toxic.”

    At Medium, Mike Gardner interviews writers about how they support themselves for the website’s “Day Job” series.

    At n+1, Stephen Piccarella considers the American prison system, justice, and works by Rachel Kushner and Sergio De La Pava.

    At LitHub, read an excerpt of Han Kang’s upcoming novel, The White Book.

    “Go there,” says The Study of Animal Languages author Lindsay Stern on the best writing advice she’s received. “When the work takes you somewhere deep, it can be difficult not to swim back up out of fear or squeamishness. I did that in early drafts of the book. It took great teachers to show me that the novel was avoiding its true subject matter. So: Always go there.”

  • February 19, 2019

    Lauren Elkin. Photo: Marianne Katser

    Lauren Elkin is working on a new book. Art Monsters: On Beauty and Excess will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the US and Chatto & Windus in the UK. The publication date has not been set, but the manuscript is due in 2020.

    Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian talks to The Guardian about torture, anxiety, and his new book, Prisoner. “For the first six or seven months, [the threat] was pretty regular. . . . It was the constant anxiety of: ‘Are they going to kill me, are they going to keep me forever or am I going to be released tomorrow?’” he said of his detention in Iran. Rezaian has filed a lawsuit against the country over his mistreatment. “People say: ‘Well, you weren’t beaten.’ I say they never laid a finger on me, but I was certainly tortured, and they have to pay for that.”

    Sarah Hughes looks at the ways that #MeToo is showing up in fiction.

    “Many critics can only process fantasy as a commentary on the now,” Marlon James tells The Guardian. “Do you review Wolf Hall looking for modern-day parallels? Well if you do, then that’s on you. There are other things to be said about humanity than the contemporary experience.”

    At the New York Times Book Review, Gal Beckerman advocates for “the value of invisibility and silence” in our busy, noisy world through two new books: Akiko Busch’s How to Disappear and Jane Brox’s Silence. “Coming upon them was like finding the Advil bottle in the medicine cabinet after stumbling about with a headache for a long time,” she writes. “They demand patience from addled minds primed to see such subject matter as a result of subtraction, the blank pages between chapters.”

  • February 18, 2019

    Naomi Klein has sold her new book, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, to Simon and Schuster for a “rumored high six-figure sum.” According to the publisher, Klein’s new study concerns the “urgency of the climate crisis, as well as the fiery energy of a rising political movement demanding a transformational Green New Deal.”

    The new Center for Fiction, long housed at the Mercantile Library in Manhattan, is moving to Brooklyn. According to Noreen Tomassi, the Center’s executive director, the new space will not only support writers and literary events but also foster a literary community: “It was important to create a space that’s not only a bookstore, not only an auditorium, not only a writers’ studio, not only a place where you can have a drink and sit on the terrace, but a space where you can do all of those things so it’s an integrated experience centered around their love of fiction. People need spaces like that, public spaces. That’s why houses of literature in Europe are so important. I just went to one in Rome, and I was knocked out by it, because people are there writing, there are books to read, there’s a library, there’s an incredible festival every year and it’s a place where like-minded people feel at home.”

    The Library of America has released the cover image for its first volume of Joan Didion’s writing, which is due out in November.

    Victor LaValle, the editor of the just-released anthology of speculative fiction A People’s Future of the United States, recommends five of his favorite recent books.

  • February 15, 2019

    The Swedish ambassador to China is under investigation after “she was accused of arranging unauthorized, secret talks” between imprisoned publisher Gui Minhai’s daughter and “two Chinese men who had offered to help free him, but instead pressured her to keep silent,” the New York Times reports.

    Janet Malcolm. Photo: Nina Subin

    At the New York Times, Alexandra Alter explains why plagiarism accusations can be difficult to prove, particularly when they involve plot similarities. “Books with similar plots abound in fiction,” she writes. “But the debate underscores how lines blur when considering literary theft and acceptable homage, and when the deployment of clichéd plot conventions becomes an egregious use of another writer’s work and ideas.”

    Janet Malcolm talks to the Times’s “By the Book” column about the British royal family, dogs, and her personal library. Malcolm says that she has recently been rereading books in her personal collection. “Why have a large library and not use it? Why keep books, if you are not going to read them more than once?” she asks. “For the décor? The answer isn’t entirely no. A book-lined room looks nice. I like walking into my living room and seeing the walls of books with faded spines that have accreted over many decades.”

    New York’s Morgan Library and Museum is undergoing a $12.5 million renovation.

    The New Republic’s Alex Shephard examines the “growing tension between [Jeff] Bezos’s role as the savior of one of America’s most important news organizations and his role overseeing an anti-democratic corporate behemoth.”

    “At the very least, town halls could be saved for candidates who are actually running,” writes Columbia Journalism Review’s Jon Allsop on CNN’s recent town-hall interview with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. “Whenever he was asked a tough, personal question last night, Schultz looked at Harlow with a furrowed brow and protested that he couldn’t say as he wasn’t running yet. ‘I think we’re getting way premature!’ he exclaimed at one point. For once, he had a point.”

  • February 14, 2019

    Naomi Alderman. Photo: Justine Stoddard

    Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the New York Times offers a list of “books for broken hearts,” including Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, and Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation.

    Verso is launching a fiction imprint. Verso Fiction will publish two to four works a year, with a focus on translated fiction, starting later this year.

    Amazon is adapting Naomi Alderman’s The Power into a streaming series.

    Columbine author Dave Cullen talks to Columbia Journalism Review about reporting on school shootings, gun control, and his new book, Parkland. “We still cover the killers way too much,” Cullen said of media coverage of mass shootings. “I don’t understand why it’s so damn hard to figure out and why it’s taking so long. I have people on Twitter arguing that journalists should never withhold facts. Our whole job is choosing which facts to report. If you do a 800-word story on a car accident, do you say what both drivers were wearing? Do you say what their hair color was? It’s like a million details, and you’re selecting like 50 of them.”

    At BuzzFeed, Former Snopes managing editor Brooke Binkowski reflects on the website’s recently-discontinued fact checking partnership with Facebook. “It turned out that trying to fact-check a social media service that is used by a huge chunk of the world’s population is no easy task” she writes. “Trying to stem the tsunami of hoaxes, scams, and outright fake stories was like playing the world’s most doomed game of whack-a-mole, or like battling the Hydra of Greek myth. Every time we cut off a virtual head, two more would grow in its place.”

  • February 13, 2019

    Katie Couric is working on a memoir. In Unexpected, USA Today reports that “Couric plans to share details both ‘hilarious’ and ‘humiliating’ as she looks back on her prize-winning, 40-year career.” The book will be published by Little, Brown in 2021.

    Valeria Luiselli

    At Longreads, Lily Meyer talks to Valeria Luiselli about observation, how being bilingual affects her writing, and her new book, Lost Children Archive. “One language always has a word that’s more accurate. There are words that are exactly right, but the exact word doesn’t exist in the other language,” she said. “It forces you to sit and think until you come up with the best possible distillation of what you want to say. Bilingualism forces you to be creative in order to be as precise and clear as possible.”

    McNally Jackson bookstore is not only staying in their original Soho location, but will open two more stores in the next year, Vulture reports.

    Chris O’Leary lists books that influenced the work of David Bowie.

    The cover of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s upcoming novel, The Water Dancer, has been released. It was designed by painter Calida Garcia Rawles, who plans to work with Coates “on a series of events” based around their respective works.

    BuzzFeed News employees are forming a union. Employees have been organizing at the company since 2015, but were motivated by recent layoffs. “It’s not all fun and memes,” the group said in a statement. “Our staff has been organizing for several months, and we have legitimate grievances about unfair pay disparities, mismanaged pivots and layoffs, weak benefits, skyrocketing health insurance costs, diversity and more.”

  • February 12, 2019

    Haruki Murakami

    Haruki Murakami talks to the New Yorker’s Deborah Treisman about cats, alternate worlds, and how he became a writer. Murakami says that inspiration struck at a Yakult Swallows baseball game in Tokyo. “The first batter hit a double, and at that moment I got a feeling I could write. Maybe I’d drunk too much beer,” he explained. “Before that I hadn’t written anything at all. I was the owner of a jazz club, and I was so busy making cocktails and sandwiches. I make very good sandwiches! But after that game I went to the stationery store and bought some supplies, and then I started writing and I became a writer.”

    Neil McRobert wonders what gothic fiction about Brexit and the current global political situation will look like. “In our deeply divided society, monstrosity depends, more than ever, on perspective. I can talk about racists and tyrants in a postmodern way that reassigns monstrosity to those who would oppress alternative lifestyles or cultures,” he writes. “But to the ardent Brexiter or Trump supporter, the other may still scare. How can we reconcile these terrors?”

    Tessa Hadley talks to The Guardian about marriage, death, and her new novel, Late in the Day.

    At The Outline, Mari Cohen and Christian Belanger argue that journalism should not be hidden behind paywalls. “If journalists really believe that what they do is a public good, they should make sure that it is accessible to as many people as possible, not just those who can afford subscriptions to a half-dozen newspapers,” they write. “When we produce investigations into public corruption, or publish articles that help readers learn more about the institutions from which they seek housing, health care, and education, we should want our work to have the widest audience possible. And that includes people without extra disposable income to toss at paywalls.”

    For Garage magazine, Ottessa Moshfegh profiles her idol, Whoopi Goldberg.

    The Ringer’s Alison Herman praises the commenters of the New York Times’s Cooking section, a group that inspires “downright bonhomie toward my fellow man.“We made the conscious decision not to call them comments,” food editor Sam Sifton explains. “The call to action was to leave a note on the recipe that helps make it better. That’s very different from ‘Leave a comment on a recipe.’ And the comment might be ‘I hate you.’ ‘You’re an asshole.’ ‘This is bad.’ And that’s helpful to no one.”

  • February 11, 2019

    Malcolm Gladwell strangers

    Malcolm Gladwell

    Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times, is continuing to do damage control following allegations that parts of her new book, Merchants of Truth, are plagiarized. “All of the allegations that I lifted material or plagiarized—that’s not true, but I did make mistakes in the footnotes, and there are some uncited passages,” Abramson told Vox’s Sean Illing. “Those sources are credited in other footnotes; it’s just those specific quotes are not, and that’s an error and it will be fixed pronto.” When Illing pointed out that at least one article—a Jake Malooley piece about Vice, which appeared in Time Out—wasn’t cited at all, Abramson stated: “Yeah, I can’t find that Malooley citation in the book. But it should be in there, and I can’t find it. But we will get it corrected pronto.”

    Little, Brown has bought Malcolm Gladwell’s next bookTalking to Strangers, which is scheduled to be published in September. Talking to Strangers, Gladwell’s first book since his 2013 David and Goliath (also Little, Brown), argues that there is “something very wrong with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know,” and shows how the inability to talk with strangers is “inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.”

    PEN America will honor the Mexican-American novelist and essayist Sandra Cisneros—author of The House on Mango Street, among other books—with the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature at its 2019 awards ceremony, which will take place on February 26.

    According to Richard Johnson at Page Six, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are “bracing” themselves as they wait for the publication of investigative journalist Vicky Ward’s Kushner Inc.: Greed, Ambition, Corruption, which will be released by St. Martin’s on March 19. The book will “delve into the sordid case that got Jared’s father, real-estate developer Charles Kushner, a two-year prison sentence for witness tampering and other charges after Charles set a honey trap for his brother-in-law using a prostitute.” Ward’s 2014 book The Liar’s Ball exposed the brutal business tactics of various real-estate tycoons, including Donald Trump.

    Teju Cole’s latest On Photography column will be his last. In “When the Camera Is a Weapon of Imperialism,” the Open City author dwells on Rev. R.H. Stone’s memoir In Africa’s Forest and Jungle: Or Six Years Among the Yorubans, and reflects on how images of human suffering doesn’t only stir a viewer’s conscience, but also “implicitly serves the powers that be.”

  • February 8, 2019

    Jill Abramson. Photo: Peter Yang

    Dan Mallory, the pseudonymous author of The Woman in the Window who was recently exposed by the New Yorker for lying about his health and past, will publish a second novel with HarperCollins UK, The Guardian reports. “Professionally, Dan was a highly valued editor and the publication of The Woman in the Window – a Sunday Times bestseller – speaks for itself,” the publisher said in a statement.

    Reporter Jim DeRogatis, who has spent decades investigating the accusations against R. Kelly, is working on a book about the allegations against singer. Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly will be published by Abrams in June.

    New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang have sold an untitled book about Facebook based on their article “Delay, Deny, and Deflect” to HarperCollins for a reported seven-figure advance, Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo reports.

    Vice correspondent Michael Moynihan has found numerous instances of plagiarism in Jill Abramson’s new book, Merchants of Truth. Columbia Journalism Review’s Mathew Ingram reflects on being one of the sources of Abramson’s plagiarized material. Do I feel as though something has been stolen from me? Not really,” he writes. “And yet, it’s still irritating that there seems to be no mention of where it appeared at all. Would it have been that hard to say ‘as mentioned in CJR’?” In response, Abramson told the Washington Post that she is reviewing her book for uncited or misattributed information. “I wouldn’t want even a misplaced comma so I will promptly fix these footnotes and quotations as I have corrected other material that Vice contested,” she said.

    At Columbia Journalism review, Spencer Dukoff details his experience of being a young person working in journalism. At twenty-six, Dukoff has been laid off three times in the three years since he began his career. “When I entered the industry, I thought that bloodletting was a natural result of publishers failing to evolve. I was horribly naive,” he writes. “I’ve now realized I had a front-row seat for the decision-making processes and warped priorities of publishers, who chase scale with abandon, pay gobs of money for traffic, and preach an ethos of independence while quietly maneuvering toward a lucrative exit for themselves following a merger or acquisition.”

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