• July 23, 2018

    Elisabeth Thomas Catherine House

    Elisabeth Thomas

    Ta-Nehisi Coates is leaving The Atlantic, where he has been on staff since 2008. 

    Darin Webb, a longtime accountant at the literary agency Donadio & Olson, has been charged with stealing more than $3.4 million from the company and its clients. According to the Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Webb has been arrested for “cook[ing] the firm’s books to conceal a multimillion-dollar embezzlement.” He has been arrested and is facing prosecution. Now, cult writer Chuck Palahniuk—best known for his novel Fight Club—is alleging that Webb’s crimes have wiped out his savings: The author says he might have to “sell his house to stay afloat.” But in an a profile posted at the Guardian, Palahniuk is more interested in talking about Adjustment Day—his new novel about American segregation—and why the incel (involuntary celibate) movement has chosen Fight Club as its bible. “It shows,” says Palahniuk, “how few options men have in terms of metaphors.”

    Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer-winning restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times and the author of Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real LA, has died. In her moving appreciation, food writer Ruth Reichl states that Gold “gave us the keys to a hidden city.” More tributes can be found here.

    After an “eight-way auction,” William Morrow has bought the North American rights to the debut novel by Elisabeth Thomas, a Yale alumnus who is currently an archivist for the Museum of Modern Art. Morrow says that Catherine House, a contemporary fairy tale set at a university in a forest, is a“gothic-infused” tale “told through the eyes of Ines, a dangerously curious, rebellious first-year who uncovers a dark secret beneath the school’s promise of prestige.” A German rights deal has also been closed, and a number of other international publishing deals reportedly are in the works.  

    Publisher’s Weekly has a roundup of Trump staffers’ (and ex-staffers’) book deals and, for those who haven’t published yet, rumored book deals.

    W.W. Norton will publish Jeff Sharlet’s next book, The Darkness Show: A Memoir of Other People’s Lives, in 2019. According to Sharlet, the book is “a reported book on poverty of the ordinary, extraordinary, and spiritual varieties, an attempt at making visible that which power attempts to render invisible. It is a book borne of despair—that of everyday men and women working bad jobs or living without jobs; that of the destitute and the soon-to-be-killed and the families of the already-murdered; that of all those who live in fear of powers far greater than they can muster; and that of the roughly two years in my own life documented within, a period that began with my father’s heart attack and ended with mine. My father survived, as did I, obviously. Not everyone in The Darkness Show does. But most of them—most of us—endure.”

  • July 20, 2018

    Chance the Rapper has purchased the Chicagoist website from WNYC, who bought the site along with Gothamist last year. “WNYC’s commitment to finding homes for the ‘ist’ brands, including Chicagoist, was an essential part of continuing the legacy and integrity of the site,” Chance said in a statement. “I look forward to relaunching it and bringing the people of Chicago an independent media outlet focused on amplifying diverse voices and content.”

    Caitlin Moran talks to Entertainment Weekly about writing her latest novel, How to be Famous, during the start of the #MeToo movement. “I’d always known the plot was going to be [main character Johanna] would be hanging around all these famous people, she would have sex with a famous person in the industry, and he’d have a sex tape of her and use it to shame her,” she explained. “And then the Harvey Weinstein stuff started to break. . . . Hundreds of women who were in exactly the same position as Johanna were basically doing what she does in the book: showing that the only way to reverse shame is to not keep it a secret and talk about it.”

    Alexander Chee

    Alexander Chee and Paul Holdengraber discuss mentorship, political activism, and novel-writing.

    At the New York Times, Michael Grynbaum reflects on the slow-growing solidarity between White House correspondents after The Hill’s Jordan Fabian allowed NBC’s Hallie Jackson to ask a follow-up question instead of asking his own. “Covering the White House is among the most competitive jobs in Washington journalism, a fact that press secretaries are keen to exploit. Between the demands of story-hungry editors — and a shot at cable-news glory — few reporters pass up a chance to ask a question on live TV,” Grynbaum explains. “So Mr. Fabian’s gesture, which caught Ms. Sanders off guard, quickly resonated beyond the West Wing.”

    Josephine Livingstone looks at the open secret of branded content in women’s media and how the practice has changed in the digital age. “There exists not a single mainstream women’s magazine that does not rely on money from the fashion and beauty industries. . . . Vogue cannot run a huge story criticizing a brand that advertises in its pages,” she writes. “The difference between today’s women’s media scam and yesterday’s is that the advertising is now hiding in “native” content, and the scummy clickbait is packaged better. Instead of sitting in a box next to a trashy article about celebrities, lucrative advertising these days lurks inside content that simulates ethical, feminist journalism.”

  • July 19, 2018

    Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is writing a book. The Huffington Post reports that Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics will be a “‘no-holds-barred account’ of his political life and controversies, including his time with President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.” Let Me Finish will be published by Hachette next January.

    Irin Carmon

    Irin Carmon has been hired as a senior correspondent for New York magazine.

    “This is a slim, quick read that at its best feels like a kind of annotated syllabus for a popular college class with a charismatic teacher, the kind that would be oversubscribed two minutes past midnight,” writes MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Michiko Kakutani’s new book, The Death of Truth. “At its worst, it feels like spending a few hours scrolling through the #Resist hashtag on Twitter.”

    At The Nation, Sam Husseini details his experience being forcibly removed from the Trump-Putin press conference in Helsinki earlier this week, as well as the questions on nuclear nonproliferation that he had planned on asking had he not been ejected.

    BuzzFeed News is getting its own website. Instead of sharing a URL with “its sibling quiz factory,” Nieman Lab reports that BuzzFeedNews.com will “host a ‘full range’ of stories” and “no longer prominently features ‘LOL,’ ‘wtf’ and ‘omg.’”

    After telling Recode’s Kara Swisher that he doesn’t think Holocaust deniers who post their views on Facebook are “intentionally getting it wrong,” Mark Zuckerberg clarified his opinion. “Our goal with fake news is not to prevent anyone from saying something untrue — but to stop fake news and misinformation spreading across our services,” he wrote in an email to Swisher. “These issues are very challenging but I believe that often the best way to fight offensive bad speech is with good speech.”


  • July 18, 2018

    California Senator Kamala Harris is writing a book. The Truths We Hold: An American Journey will be both a memoir and a current events book, something the New York Times notes is “a mixture well-known to campaign books.” The Truths We Hold will be published by Penguin Press in 2019.

    N.K. Jemisin. Photo: Laura Hanifin

    Lin-Manuel Miranda’s morning and evening tweets are being collected into a book. Gmorning, Gnite! Little Pep Talks For Me & You, which includes illustrations by Jonny Sun, will be published this fall by Random House.

    Hugo Award-winner N.K. Jemisin is publishing her first short story collection. How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? will be published by Orbit next November. “Back at the beginning of my career, I didn’t think I was capable of writing short fiction, let alone publishing it,” she said in a statement. “I hope new readers will like just seeing what kinds of worlds and weirdness I can come up with.”

    Sarah Jeong looks at the cutthroat world of self-published romance novels on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. “A genre that mostly features shiny, shirtless men on its covers and sells ebooks for 99 cents a pop might seem unserious,” Jeong notes. “But at stake are revenues sometimes amounting to a million dollars a year, with some authors easily netting six figures a month.”

    At The Guardian, Andrew Brown explains the scandals that led to the resignation of nearly half of the members of the Swedish Academy and the cancellation of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature.

    Former Monterey County Weekly editor Mary Duan reflects on the increasing security measures at newspapers, something that had become commonplace even before the Capital Gazette shooting. “In a profession that requires us to be open for sources, for tips, for community access, we’ve all had to become less accessible,” she writes.

  • July 17, 2018

    Marlon James

    A lawsuit has been filed against the creators of S-Town. The estate of John B. McLemore alleges that McLemore, the focus of the podcast, “didn’t give permission to broadcast the intimate details of his sexual orientation, mental state and other aspects of his life.”

    Marlon James, Victore LaValle, Danzy Senna and more tell the New York Times about the scariest books they’ve read. James writes that at thirteen, Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist shook his sense of “suburban security.” “I agonized over questions I never agonized over before. What if everyone died, leaving me alone?” he remembered. “Adults were selfish and brutal, and in the case of Bill Sikes, evil incarnate. Sikes scared me right down to the bone and still haunts my dreams. I got goose bumps just typing this.”

    Ahead of a trip to Kenya and South Africa, Barack Obama has released a summer reading list featuring works by Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, among others. Quartz Africa offers some suggestions for further reading.

    BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel explains why Sacha Baron Cohen’s new series Who Is America? might be the best answer to right-wing fake news. “Baron Cohen is a worthy adversary for the most disingenuous in our politics and culture. He pits bad faith against bad faith and the result is something that seems like the truth — but it isn’t easy to watch,” he writes. “And somehow, that feels fitting for our current moment.”

    At the Washington Post, Christine Emba responds to former Business Insider columnist Daniella Greenbaum’s assertion that social media users are threatening free speech. “The removal of her piece does not mean that writers everywhere are being fallen upon by a “predatory mob.” . . . It means that Business Insider did not want Daniella Greenbaum’s column,” Emba writes. “I have written pieces for The Post, where I am a columnist, and have had them summarily rejected (this is embarrassing, but I will admit it, because I am speaking freely here). This does not mean that my column is being turned into a “safe space” or that I am being suppressed. It means that I have editors.”

  • July 16, 2018

    Karl Ove Knausgaard

    Joseph O’Neil, the author of the novel Netherland, talks with Guernica about political fiction, his favorite Supreme Court decision, and the characters in his new book of stories, Good Trouble: “These are, for the most part, bourgeois American men and women that we’re reading about. They don’t lay a greater claim to one’s compassion or understanding than anyone else, and in fact they probably have a weaker claim than most, because they’re all set, in theory. But they happen to be the people I feel I can write about with maximum authority—and they happen to be involved, these genteel and bourgeois Americans, in a humanistic experiment no less crucial and radical in its implications than the experiments historically conducted by communists, royalists, rebels, or what have you.”

    The Brooklyn-based series Murmrr has booked novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard to read and discuss his work on September 26.

    A list of forty-five things Varlam Shalamov, author of The Kolyma Stories, learned while serving time in a Soviet gulag.

    Fiction writer Ottessa Moshfegh picks her favorite books.

    Marlon James pays homage to Franz Ross’s 1974 novel, Oreo.

    Ron Charles wishes that writers who have received negative reviews would talk back to their critics more often. “I wish more authors were willing to respond in public to reviews of their books. Not that we need every disappointed writer to go all Alain de Botton and declare, ‘I will hate you till the day I die and wish you nothing but ill will in every career move you make.’ But our literary culture would be richer if we could observe more interactions between authors and critics.”

  • July 13, 2018

    Bleacher Report and Bustle founder Bryan Goldberg bought Gawker at auction yesterday for $1.13 million. The deal will be approved by a bankruptcy judge on Tuesday. “We have no immediate plans to re-launch Gawker,” Goldberg wrote in an email obtained by CNN after the sale. “For now, things will stay as they are. I’m very excited about the possibilities for the future of Gawker.”

    Ahmet Altan

    Granta Books is publishing a memoir by Turkish novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan, who is currently serving a life sentence in prison after being arrested in September 2016 in a government round-up of intellectuals and journalists. I Will Never See the World Again will be published in March 2019.

    In Sweden, the New Academy has announced their “long-ish longlist” for their alternative to the Nobel prize.

    The Guardian has obtained a leaked copy of Sean Spicer’s upcoming book, The Briefing: Politics, the Press and the President. Besides confirming Paul Manafort’s major role in the Trump campaign, Spicer also praises Trump as “a unicorn, riding a unicorn over a rainbow,” and “compares the work of a press secretary to that of a fighter jet pilot, champion boxer and tightrope artist.” The Briefing will be published July 24. Tickets for the book’s launch party on the same day are selling for as much as $1,000, Esquire reports.

    At Lithub, Rachel Vorona Cote wonders if Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale wants viewers to empathize with Ivanka Trump.

    Jacob Rubin explains how Mary Gaitskill’s novel Veronica helped him return to reading fiction, after the death of a friend made both reading and writing it unbearable. “In those weeks after Nick’s death I planned to volunteer to sit with dying people. Such work at the time, as opposed to writing, seemed undoubtedly meaningful,” he writes. “But after reading Veronica, I began to understand that this new ambition was at least in part a metaphor: In my vision of hospice work, I was imagining a space in which our ephemerality is at last undeniable, one in which we are finally permitted our ugliness because it is written on our faces, a room in which we are allowed fully to live and die. Mary Gaitskill reminded me that art can provide such a space.”

  • July 12, 2018

    Michiko Kakutani

    Michiko Kakutani returns to the New York Times books section, this time as an interviewee. Kakutani tells the “By the Book” column that leaving her job as a book reviewer has given her more time to binge read. “Not reviewing all the time has also meant that I can at least sometimes turn off the analytic part of my brain — which makes mental notes about things like narrative structure, language and tone — and recover the innocence of reading for the sheer pleasure of it.”

    At the Los Angeles Review of Books Blog, Nathan Kalman-Lamb looks at the problems of modern fandom and its entanglement with capitalism.

    Twitter will start removing all blocked or suspicious accounts today, the New York Times reports. The deleted accounts will lower the number of followers by six percent.

    At the New York Times, Margaret Renkl examines what exactly makes a Southern writer. “What if being a Southern writer has nothing to do with rural tropes or lyrical prose or a lush landscape or humid heat so thick it’s hard to breathe?” she asks. “What if being a Southern writer is foremost a matter of growing up in a deeply troubled place and yet finding it somehow impossible to leave?”

    At Hazlitt, Sarah Hagi reflects on getting—and losing—her dream job at an online media company and the struggle of making a career out of writing. After years freelancing, Hagi finally landed a permanent position as a staff writer. “Before my job, when people would ask me what I did and I’d tell them I was a writer, I felt like a fraud,” she writes. “The ebb and flow of the job left me too scared to even call myself a writer out loud to other people. Yes, I had been published—but that didn’t mean I would continue being published or that the people who’d publish me would even have jobs in a month.”

    Wired has hired several new editors and writers. NewYorker.com’s Anthony Lydgate and Vice’s Caitlin Kelly have joined the magazine as editors, while former Wired editor Emily Dreyfuss returns as a senior writer after a year as a Nieman Foundation fellow.

    Columbia Journalism Review’s Mathew Ingram explains how Elon Musk became “the poster child for bad billionaires” and Twitter’s favorite target for criticism. “When he was still a plucky, little-known entrepreneur, Musk’s try-anything attitude and somewhat wacky and combative Twitter persona seemed endearing,” he writes. “But now that he is running several billion-dollar enterprises and dating a celebrity . . . the way he shoots from the lip on almost any topic makes his Twitter account a target-rich environment for anyone wanting to cut him down to size.”

  • July 11, 2018

    Univision has formally announced that is is exploring a sale of both Gizmodo Media Group and The Onion. In a statement, the company explained that selling the properties “further strengthen [Univision’s] position as the No. 1 media company serving U.S. Hispanics, while enabling both GMG and The Onion even greater opportunities to grow under new ownership.”

    Emily Nemens. Photo: Jeremiah Ariaz

    The New Yorker has chosen to voluntarily recognize the magazine’s editorial union. The union noted that the deal was still being finalized. “We’re in this together,” editor David Remnick said in a statement. “The work we set out to do every day is more important than ever.”

    Vanity Fair talks to Paris Review editor Emily Nemens about returning to New York, the history of the magazine, and her plans for its future. “Looking through the archives of the interviews in particular just really highlights how white and male the history of the magazine has been,” Nemens said of a recent foray into the archives as staff assembled an upcoming Women at Work anthology. “So I’m being mindful—the language, the story, the poem are first and foremost, but I need to read against that history and do what I can to make it a more inclusive environment.”

    Incoming Los Angeles Times executive editor Norman Pearlstine announced new additions to his editorial team yesterday.

    At Literary Hub, Samantha Hunt reflects on neighbors, the mafia, and Brooklyn gentrification.

    Ottessa Moshfegh says that she wishes Whoopi Goldberg would read her new book, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, in which the main character repeatedly watches movies starring the actress. “Her particular talent to poke through every scene of fictional film as a real live human being, therefore undoing the illusion of cinema, was a powerful influence on me as an artist back before I even knew I was a writer,” she said. “I would love for her to read my book simply because it is a message of appreciation.”

  • July 10, 2018

    Recode editor at large Kara Swisher is joining the New York Times as an opinion contributor. “The power and influence of the tech companies is among the most important and complex stories of our era, and we are very excited at the prospect of having Kara bring her experience, intellect and courage to bear for Times readers,” the company said in a statement.

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks to Vulture about raising children, feminism, and Philip Roth. “There was a humanity in Philip Roth’s work that is often overlooked when we talk about his misogyny. I read his women and roll my eyes but there is a truth there, because there are many men like his men,” she said of the concerns over the late novelist’s work. “Maybe there are people who want Philip Roth’s misogynists to die at the end of the novel so that they’ll know misogyny is bad. But that would be a little easy, wouldn’t it? The world is complex.”

    Maggie Nelson talks to the Los Angeles Review of Books about the Gowanus Canal, past selves, and the recent reissue of her first book, Something Bright, Then Holes.

    Maris Kreizman looks at Rona Jaffe’s The Best of Everything, a sixty-year-old novel that focused on workplace sexual harassment, and sees a connection to the current #MeToo movement. “I finally had confirmation that what I’d tolerated as ‘just the way things are’ might actually not be okay at all, in my own career and beyond,” she writes of her first time reading the book. “Just like the women readers who saw themselves and their own experiences mirrored back to them in The Best of Everything, I found #MeToo was a way to begin to articulate all of the things I’d repressed.”

    Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient has been selected as the public’s favorite Man Booker winner. “Not for a second do I believe this is the best book on the list, especially when it is placed beside a work by VS Naipaul, one of the masters of our time, or a major work like Wolf Hall,” Ondaatje said when he accepted the award at the Man Booker 50 festival. “I suspect and know more than anyone that perhaps The English Patient is still cloudy, with errors in pacing.”