• January 11, 2019

    Vulture’s Kat Rosenfield reflects on The Millions, an indie book blog that was recently sold to Publishers Weekly. Although the website has no plans to change its mission or content, “there’s a consensus among readers, writers, publishers, and critics that something has ended,” Rosenfield writes. “If not the Millions itself, then perhaps the culture and era that sustained it: an online Wild West full of hungry readers and exuberant writers still young and innocent enough not to mind working for (almost) free.”

    Linn Ullmann. Photo: Agnete Brun

    The Nieman Foundation has announced its 2019 Visiting Fellows.

    BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel is joining the New York Times opinion section.

    At the New York Times Magazine, Wyatt Mason talks to Linn Ullmann about Ingmar Bergman, anecdotes, and her new book, Unquiet. “I can’t stand anecdotes,” she said, defining them as “a story that’s good for dinner parties” (“I have thousands,” she noted). “Anecdotes . . . elicit a kind of soft response, sweet applause. An anecdote is told many times, honed in a certain way, so that, if it has a rough edge, even that is absolutely palatable. It might elicit tears, a little ‘ah.’”

    “She never volunteers information. . . . She’s totally open, but you’ve got to know exactly how to ask her stuff,” Lili Anolik tells Entertainment Weekly about Eve Babitz, the subject of her new book, Hollywood’s Eve. “ When I started this book, obsession, whatever you want to call it — there was so little out there about her.” Using a borrowed copy of the underground newspaper L.A. Manifesto, Anolik began to contact people in Babitz’s social network. “I fell into rabbit hole after rabbit hole with this because everybody you met was so interesting. You’d get these little stories, these little glimpses.”

  • January 10, 2019

    At Longreads, Tobias Carroll talks to Sarah Moss about borders, Brexit, and her new book, Ghost Wall. “There was a lot of very angry public discourse about walls and boundaries,” she said of the time when she began writing her novel. “Who are the barbarians, and who are the civilized people? Who’s in, and who’s out? Who’s English, and who’s not English? Who’s British, and who’s not British? National myths of origin were very much in my mind while I was there.”

    deborah eisenberg

    Deborah Eisenberg

    Jamel Brinkley’s A Lucky Man, Deborah Eisenberg’s Your Duck is My Duck, and Lauren Groff’s Florida have been nominated for LitHub’s 2018 Story Prize. The winner will be announced in March.

    Journalist Sebastian Modak has been chosen as the New York Times’s 2019 “52 Places Traveler.”

    Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber is leaving the website after nearly twenty-five years. Schreiber had left his role as editor in chief last year but stayed on with the company. “It’s an interesting sensation,” Schreiber told the Los Angeles Times. “I feel at peace with it. As much as it’s been part of my entire adult life and as much fun as I’ve had, I feel like I want to keep pushing boundaries and exploring new things.”

    Refinery29’s editorial staff is unionizing with the Writers Guild of America East. We are proud of working at an outlet that believes in encouraging women to challenge the status quo, in their lives and in the world. We believe that unionizing is the best way, and the feminist answer, to address our workplace issues,” the group explained in a statement. “This way we’ll be able to continue publishing stories and creating content that serve as a catalyst for women to see, feel, and claim their power.”

    Hmm Daily’s Tom Scocca looks at the media’s attempts at fact-checking Trump’s recent televised speech about immigration and the federal government shutdown. “Third-party fact-checking, as the establishment press does it, is the opposite of providing context. It is a process of breaking things apart . . . till they lose their meaning,” he writes. “It purports to be an endpoint or resolution, but the fact-checks become more facts, hastily and indifferently reported ones, to be fed back into the news cycle and misused or misrepresented. Everybody gets Pinocchios; nothing gets to be real.”

  • January 9, 2019

    Lin-Manuel Miranda and three of his collaborators from Hamilton have bought the Drama Book Shop, the New York Times’s Michael Paulson reports. The bookshop has been searching for a new, more affordable space since late last year, something that the new owners intend to help with. The shop will close at the end of the month and reopen at a different Midtown location in the fall. “It’s the chronic problem — the rents were just too high, and I’m 84 years old — I just didn’t have the drive to find a new space and make another move,” said Rozanne Seelen, the current owner, who will stay on as a consultant. “Lin-Manuel and Tommy are my white knights.”

    Kristen Roupenian. Photo: Elisa Roupenian Toha

    The Believer has released the longlist for the magazine’s book awards. Nominees include Brian Dillon’s Essayism, Meghan O’Gieblyn’s Interior States, Helen DeWitt’s Some Trick, and more.

    You Know You Want This author Kristen Roupenian talks to Michelle Cheever about monsters, horror, and going viral. “In a lot of ways, virality is just a thing that happens,” she said of the popularity of her New Yorker short story “Cat Person.” “Things have a certain momentum and then other things happen and algorithms kick in and suddenly something is happening that’s separate from whatever the internal quality of the thing is.”

    Sam Lipsyte, Dana Czapnik, Sarah McColl, Madhuri Vijay, and Karen Thompson Walker all talk to LitHub about their writing process, least-favorite descriptions of their writing, and their respective new books.

    At the New York Times, Brian Morton considers the modern reader’s attitude toward historical authors that held racist, sexist, or otherwise problematic viewpoints during their lifetimes. “It’s as if we imagine an old book to be a time machine that brings the writer to us. We buy a book and take it home, and the writer appears before us, asking to be admitted into our company. If we find that the writer’s views are ethnocentric or sexist or racist, we reject the application, and we bar his or her entry into the present,” he writes “I think we’d all be better readers if we realized that it isn’t the writer who’s the time traveler. It’s the reader. When we pick up an old novel, we’re not bringing the novelist into our world . . . we’re journeying into the novelist’s world and taking a look around.”

  • January 8, 2019

    Sally Rooney. Photo: Jonny L. Davies.

    Sally Rooney has won the Costa Novel Award for Normal People. Rooney is the youngest author ever to win the prize. Other winners include J. O. Morgan’s poetry book Assurances, Bart van Es’s memoir The Cut Out Girl, and Stuart Turton’s debut novelThe Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

    Two hundred Vice employees from the company’s TV and video departments have joined editorial employees in unionizing with the Writers Guild of America East.

    Observer editor in chief Ben Robinson has left the company after ten months. There are no plans to find a replacement, and social media editor Mary von Aue has taken over as editorial director.

    Columbia Journalism Review looks at media coverage of the federal government shutdown. “Shutdowns are always tricky stories for journalists, with complex technical negotiations often hiding behind political grandstanding,” Jon Allsop writes. “This shutdown—now the third-longest in US history—is even trickier, with lies, misleading statistics, and the volatile nature of Trump’s decision-making all thrown into the mix.”

    At The Guardian, Anakana Schofield argues that we should not follow Marie Kondo’s directions to get rid of books that don’t “give us joy.” “Books are not a reflection of our thoughts and values, because more often than not they reflect someone else’s, whether it is Lolita, Mrs Dalloway or Snoopy,” she writes. “Our book collections record the narrative of expansion, diversion, regression, terror and yet-to-be-discovered possibilities of our reading life.”

    In a five-thousand-word email to journalists, Julian Assange outlined over one hundred “false and defamatory statements” about himself that the media should avoid in their reporting, “including that Assange bleaches his hair, that he is a hacker, that he has ever neglected an animal or that he has poor personal hygiene.”

  • January 7, 2019


    Jill Abramson

    Jill Abramson

    In her new book, Merchants of Truth, former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson writes that the paper drafted a letter to the Chinese government “all but apologizing” for a story that exposed corruption in the country. The article, by David Barboza and Sharon LaFraniere, went on to win a Pulitzer Prize. Abramson says she confronted the paper’s publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, who agreed to change the letter. But Abramson claims that the letter, even in its amended form, was “still objectionable” for its apologetic tone. The confrontation “strained” Abramson’s relationship with Sulzberger, the former editor writes. She was fired two years later. 

    Being a book writer has never been lucrative, but a new report by the National Authors’ Guild says that the profession “may not even be a livable one anymore.”

    The Guardian reports on the publication of Michel Houellebecq’s new novel, Serotonin, which was released on Friday. The book had a first printing of 320,000 copies—huge in France—and the sixty-two-year-old author received the Légion d’honneur, “France’s highest national honour,” from President Emmanuel Macron. The novel is about “a lovesick agricultural engineer who writes trade reports for the French agriculture ministry and loathes the EU, and offers diatribes against politicians who “do not fight for the interests of their people but are ready to die to defend free trade.”

    Forbes looks at one hundred of the best-selling books of 2018 and uses them to offer insights into current publishing trends, such as: “Fiction bestsellers are mostly crime thrillers,” and “Sci-Fi, fantasy, and romance aren’t popular genres for print anymore.”

    In other trend-spotting news, Publishers’ Weekly lists the biggest news stories of 2018, including “Barnes and Noble stumbles,” “Sexual Harassment Stays in the Headlines,” and “The Agenting Profession Takes a Hit.”

    Michelle Obama’s Becoming was the best-selling title of 2018.

  • January 4, 2019

    Karamo Brown

    Queer Eye star Karamo Brown is writing a memoir, which will be published by Gallery Books in March. In Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope, Brown will detail his life story, from his upbringing in the South to his television career, as well as his unique outlooks on life, culture, and connection. “When Karamo Brown first auditioned for the casting directors of Netflix’s Queer Eye, he knew he wouldn’t win the role of culture expert by discussing art and theater,” the book’s synopsis explains. “Instead he decided to redefine what ‘culture’ could — and should — mean for the show. He took a risk and declared, ‘I am culture.’”

    The New York Times’s “By the Book” column talks to An Orchestra of Minorities author Chigozie Obioma about language, the difference between revenge and justice, and how to read others’ books while working on your own.

    Fortune reports on the first hearing in the murder trial of Jamal Khashoggi.

    At Literary Hub, Mateo Askaripour considers why few black writers “manage to achieve the longevity they deserve” and wonders how best to expand this narrow canon. “The sea in which we’re swimming wasn’t made for us,” he writes. “But the tide is changing, and we press on.”

    Susan Scarf Merrell reflects on the legacy of novelist Iris Murdoch.

    Former Waitrose Food editor William Sitwell, who was fired from the magazine for what he calls an “ill-judged joke” about “killing vegans,” has been hired as a restaurant critic for The Telegraph.

  • January 3, 2019

    Jorge Luis Borges

    At the Columbia Journalism Review, Robert P. Baird reports on Jacobin magazine, the socialist print publication that has gained a sizable following since its launch in 2010. Baird talks to Jacobin’s founding editor and publisher, Bhaskar Sunkara, and tracks the magazine’s unlikely rise. As one Sunkara’s debate opponents put it, Sunkara “started a magazine that’s got 38,000 subscribers! He bought a magazine in Britain! He’s the wunderkind of socialism!”

    On the New Yorker fiction podcast, Orhan Pamuk reads Jorge Luis Borges.

    Emma Best reports on the 1976 FBI investigation of the Village Voice for espionage, after the paper published the Pike Committee Report.   

    McNally Jackson Books in New York City is reportedly going to stay in its Prince Street home.The “books you should read” lists for 2019 are beginning to come out. Literary Hub recommends “13 Books You Should Read This January, ” Nylon has its “Best Books to Read in 2019,” and Book Riot offers a list of the “Most Anticipated 2019 LGBTQ Reads.”

  • January 2, 2019

    At The Atlantic, Derek Thompson looks at worrying trends in the media business, noting four in particular: there are “too many players,” a lack of “saviors,” no “clear playbook” for how to move forward, and publications are stuck with “patrons with varying levels of beneficence.” What’s next? According to Thompson, one clue comes from looking back to the early-nineteenth century “party press era,” a time of flush partisan patrons funding the news: “Journalism could be more political again, but also more engaging.”  

    Sloane Crosley writes about what Hollywood gets wrong about publishing. But, as she observes, being wrong is not always a bad thing: “Happily, once realism has been pulped like the first print run of a fraudulent memoir, the fun can begin.”

    Sally Rooney. Photo: Jonny L. Davies.

    In the New Yorker, Lauren Collins profiles Sally Rooney, the Irish novelist whose next book, Normal People, is one of the most anticipated books of 2019. Collins explains part of Rooney’s appeal: “The quality of thought eliminates the need for pen-twirling rhetorical flourishes. Rooney’s most devastating lines are often her most affectless.”    

    Literary Hub rounds up the seventy-five best book covers of the year, polling art designers on what worked. Which book was their favorite? It’s a tie between Nico Walker’s Cherry (designed by Janet Hansen for Knopf) and Melissa Broder’s The Pisces (designed by Rachel Willey for Hogarth). Unsurprisingly, New Directions gets a special mention: They have 11 books on the list, the most of any press.   

    At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Felix Bernstein interviews Jarrett Earnest, the author of What It Means to Write About Art: Interviews With Art Critics.

  • December 28, 2018

    At Poynter, Daniel Funke writes about his yearlong odyssey into reporting on trolls, fake news, and other forms of insidious misinformation. One big lesson: “Misinformation is a constantly evolving phenomenon that knows no bounds when it comes to format, platform, message and creator. It exists in pretty much every context on Earth.”  

    At Folio, ten creative directors pick their favorite magazine covers of the year, including Marilyn Minter’s cover shot of Lady Gaga for the New York Times Magazine, Time magazine’s fold-out cover for their “Guns in America” story, and New York magazine’s Stormy Daniels cover, shot by  Amanda Demme.

    Many long-running magazines closed in 2018, including the Village Voice, Interview, and Tin House. Hmm Daily has the full rundown in “The Year in Dead Publications.”

    Vol. 1 Brooklyn has a list of the best fiction of the year. They’ve included some of the consensus picks (The Largess of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson, Severance by Ling Ma), and some lesser-known titles worth investigating, such as Roque Larraquy’s Comemadre and Ondjaki’s Transparent City.

    On the National Book Critics Circle Critical Mass blog, Jonathan Leal revisits Italo Calvino’s novel If on a winter’s night a traveller, recommending it as one of the great books about books.

  • December 27, 2018

    As their long-running advice column “Dear Sugar” comes to an end, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond reflect on the art of giving and receiving advice. “After much reflection we have decided that it’s time to shift our focus to other creative endeavors — namely, our next books,” Strayed explains of the decision. Almond reflected on why the two started the project in the first place. “The design flaw in most advice columns, I felt, was that their authors took themselves too seriously,” he remembered. “I realized the flaw in my approach, which is that people write to advice columnists because they want to be taken seriously. They want permission to feel what they’re feeling, not a set of instructions for self-improvement.”

    Jenny Xie. Photo: Teresa Mathew

    Hanif Abdurraqib, Jenny Xie, Tommy Pico, and many more poets recommend their favorite poetry books of 2018.

    Columbia Journalism Review rounds up the biggest media stories of 2018.

    At the New Republic, staff writers Josephine Livingstone and Jeet Heer consider the art of criticism, and what critics should do when they change their mind about a work they’ve reviewed.

    Wired’s Craig Mod looks at the past, present, and future of e-books, which remain popular despite the fact that they “look, feel, and function almost identically to digital books of 10 years ago.”