• September 17, 2018

    Sigrid Nunez

    Sigrid Nunez

    The National Book Foundation has announced the longlist for the 2018 awards in fiction, which includes Lauren Groff’s Florida, Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers, Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend, Tommy Orange’s There There, and others.

    At Slate, Isaac Chotiner interviews New York Review of Books editor Ian Buruma about why he chose to run an essay by Jian Ghomeshi, who has faced numerous allegations of sexual assault. Ghomeshi says that he is trying to “inject nuance” into his story. Laura Miller concludes that it’s a “terrible personal essay”: “The piece is one long and very weird train wreck.” Jezebel juxtaposes Ghomeshi’s essay with former NPR host John Hockenberry’s Harper’s piece “Exile,” in which the author claims he is “no rapist or sex offender,” but rather the victim of a culture that “chooses … not to distinguish between the charge and act of rape and some improper, failed, and awkward attempts at courtship.” Sarah Weinman, author of a new book on true crime and Nabokov, says: “Quit using Lolita to absolve your guilt, John Hockenberry.”

    Bob Woodward, the author of Fear, talks about how to find the “best obtainable truth” about Trump. “There has been a lot of reporting on the lies, the things that are untrue. But the question is, what are the consequences of those things that are untrue. How does Trump make decisions? As you go through the book—it is all immense new amounts of detail about North Korea, about Afghanistan, about the Middle East, taxes, immigration, trade issues … that is what affects people.”

    The New York Public Library is hoping that social media can inspire new interest in classic works of fiction, releasing books such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland along with slideshows and videos.

    At Medium, Sex Object author Jessica Valenti writes that “kids don’t hurt women’s careers”—father’s do. “If fathers did the same kind of work at home that mothers have always done, women’s careers could flourish in ways we haven’t yet imagined. But to get there, we need to stop framing mothers’ workplace woes as an issue of “balance,” and start talking about how men’s domestic negligence makes it so hard for us to succeed.”

    Laura Miller discusses the craft of book criticism.

  • September 14, 2018

    Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, is writing a memoir. Full Disclosure will detail how Daniels “came to be a successful actress and director in the adult film business, her alleged affair with Mr. Trump and ‘the events that led to the nondisclosure agreement and the behind-the-scenes attempts to intimidate her,’” the New York Times reports. The book will be published by St. Martin’s Press next month.

    Jeffrey C. Stewart

    The National Book Foundation has announced the longlist for this year’s nonfiction National Book Award. Nominees include Steve Coll’s Directorate S, Sarah Smarsh’s Heartland, and Jeffrey C. Stewart’s The New Negro. Finalists will be announced in October, and the prize will be awarded in November.

    After over twenty years at the company, Slate chairman Jacob Weisberg is leaving to start a podcasting company with Malcolm Gladwell.

    “So how did this alternative media venture become just as broken as the outlets it hoped to displace, laying off dozens of staff in round after round of downsizing? asks Columbia Journalism Review’s Mathew Ingram of The Outline. “The answer is partly editorial ambition (or hubris) and partly poor timing, and provides yet another example of how venture capital funding and building a digital media business rarely go well together.”

    At Lit Hub, Jennifer Acker reports from Puerto Rico on how the island’s writers and artists have been affected by Hurricane Maria. “I wondered how writers and artists, whose incomes and opportunities are precarious in the best of times, were managing,” she writes. “Had they stayed on the island, and if so, how were they feeling about their futures, and how were they making art?”

  • September 13, 2018

    The National Book Foundation has released the longlist for the National Book Award in Translated Literature. Nominees include Domenico Starnone’s Trick, Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights, and Tatyana Tolstaya’s Aetherial Worlds. The winner will be announced in November.

    Olivia Laing. Photo: Suki Dhanda

    Yiming Ma has won the The Guardian’s BAME short story prize for “Swimmer of the Yangtze.”

    At Crimereads, Jo Jakeman compiles a list of her favorite revenge novels, including Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and Ian McEwan’s Nutshell.

    Crudo author Olivia Laing talks to Longreads about Kathy Acker, the summer of 2017, and giving up Twitter. “That sense that we’re in ordinary life and it’s very familiar, then it suddenly is not familiar is what I wanted to capture,” Laing said of her new book, which is set in during the first summer of the Trump administration. “I knew this moment would be historicized and talked about by historians, and once it was turned into a historical narrative, it would lose the confusion and paranoia and the oddness of ordinary life going on as usual.”

    It’s not just that Woodward’s self-consciously Serious approach to Serious People sputters and short-circuits when confronted with the ludicrously Unserious figure of Donald Trump himself,” writes Patrick Blanchfield at n+1 on Bob Woodward’s latest book. “Rather, Fear showcases Woodward in his most abject and pathetic role as what Christopher Hitchens, who also saw him for what he was, called a ‘stenographer to power.’”

  • September 12, 2018

    In a staff memo obtained by Variety, Bustle founder and CEO Bryan Goldberg announced plans to relaunch Gawker in 2019. Amanda Hale, formerly The Outline’s chief revenue officer, has been hired as publisher. “We won’t recreate Gawker exactly as it was,” Goldberg explained in his memo, “but we will build upon Gawker’s legacy and triumphs — and learn from its missteps.”

    The Whiting Foundation is looking for submissions for its 2018 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize. The award, received last year by A Public Space, Fence, and Words Without Borders, offers grant money to outstanding literary magazines over three years.

    Katya Apekina

    At Artforum, Melissa Anderson, Vivian Gornick, J. Hoberman and more remember the Village Voice.

    At the New Republic, Daphne Merkin reviews Björn Runge’s new movie, The Wife, based on a novel by Meg Wolitzer. “The Wife is that increasingly rare offering, a commercially viable film that also makes you rethink your assumptions about talent and who gets to wield it,” she writes. “It begins as a portrait of a seemingly conventional marriage, its comforts and compromises, and gradually builds to a portrait of one woman’s radical journey to self-definition. “

    Lit Hub asks Katya Apekina, Esi Edugyan, Ben Fountain, Lydia Kiesling, and Olivia Laing about their literary influences, writing life, and more in their Author Questionnaire. Kiesling describes her life while writing The Golden State as “mired in toddler shit” and “mad about work and parental leave.” Fountain says that if he weren’t a writer he would like to be “a really good (and reasonably successful) jazz pianist. Apekina takes issue with critics who claim her novel is too dark. “The things I write are slippery and not easily categorizable, and maybe I enjoy making people a little bit uncomfortable,” she says. “I think discomfort is important.”

  • September 11, 2018

    Kate Bush is publishing a book. How to Be Invisible collects lyrics from the artist’s four-decade career and includes an introduction by novelist David Mitchell. The collection will be published by Faber in December.

    Rachel Cusk. Photo: Jaime Hogge

    “Essentially, I think all the problems of writing are problems of living,” Rachel Cusk tells Alexandra Schwartz. “I had been brought by my particular path to an experience of certain structures breaking down that I realized were old. For example, today I drove over the Brooklyn Bridge and remembered all the things I’d read about the infrastructure of American roads and bridges being in bad repair. I thought, ‘Am I entirely safe here?’ It’s been here a long time, but it doesn’t mean it always will be. It’s that feeling of realizing that your consciousness, what appears to be your individuality, is actually resting on old, possibly decrepit structures.”

    At Vox, Kainaz Amaria looks at the ways in which the #MeToo movement has been stifled in the male-dominated field of photojournalism.

    Hannah Fry talks to the Times about algorithms, riots, and her new book, Hello World.

    Masha Gessen is organizing the 2018 Festival Albertine, which begins October 30. This year’s theme is “Reimagining Democracy,” something Gessen feels is critical in the current moment. “The reason there’s an emphasis on the word ‘imagination’ is that I think that usually when we say the word ‘democracy,’ we’re referring to a known set of electoral mechanisms or constitutional institutions, etc. . . . And I wanted to underscore that that’s not actually what we’re talking about,” Gessen told the New York Times. “We’re not talking about how to salvage free and clear elections. . . . I would much rather talk about whether elections are, in fact, a necessary and sufficient component of democracy.”

  • September 10, 2018

    Teddy Wayne

    Teddy Wayne

    Archives reveal some of the most cantankerous behind-the-scenes battles between judges of the Booker Prize. Rebecca West once argued that John LeCarre wrote “according to formula,” and that Wendy Owen was a “half-wit.” In 1985, a judge protested winner Keri Hulme’s The Bone People by saying “over my dead body.” And the 1976 prize was so contested that it was finally decided on a coin toss.

    Bloomsbury’s Liese Mayer bought Teddy Wayne’s forthcoming novel Apartment, which according to the publisher is “a powerful, masterfully written novel about loneliness, sexuality, and class.” According to Publishers Weekly, the book is about an “MFA student who offers a classmate the chance to stay, rent-free, in his rent-stabilized New York City apartment.” The book is scheduled to be released in spring 2020.

    Veteran reporter Bob Woodward, whose book Fear: Trump in the White House was just released, says of the anonymous New York Times op-ed by a member of the Trump administration that ran last week: “I wouldn’t have used it.” He adds that the piece “does not meet the standards of trying to describe specific incidents. Specific incidents are the building blocks of journalism, as you well know.”

    The Brooklyn Book Festival, which culminates on Sunday September 16, kicks off today with a number of “Bookends” events. Here’s the full schedule.

  • September 7, 2018

    Politico reports that the Times op-ed by an anonymous Trump administration official has “raised a host of ethical and journalistic questions many have never considered before, including whether Times news reporters—who work independent of the editorial department, which published the op-ed—should now set about determining the identity of an anonymous Times opinion writer.”

    Newtown: An American Tragedy author Matthew Lysiak is working on a book about Drudge Report founder Matt Drudge. The book will be published by Benbella Books next year.

    Jonathan Lethem

    Jonathan Lethem talks to Vulture about the 2016 election, writing as a coping mechanism, and his new book, The Feral Detective. “In a funny way, I had a better 2017 than a lot of people,” Lethem said of the process of writing his book, which takes place during Trump’s inauguration. “It kept me relatively chipper during the brutal year, because I was pretending it was only happening to Phoebe and not to me. Then, on the day I finished the book, I remember I turned the news back on and realized: Now I have to do this without the armor of the book. Oh, fuck.

    At the New York Times, Joyce Maynard reflects on the reception of her memoir about her relationship with J.D. Salinger, At Home in the World, and its connection to the #MeToo movement. “Though I believe that if the book I wrote 20 years ago were published today it would be received differently, it does not appear that enlightenment concerning the abuses of men in power extends retroactively to women who chose to speak long ago, and were shamed and humiliated for doing so. As recently as last fall — on the occasion of my having published a memoir about the death of my second husband, a book in which Salinger never appears — I was referred to as ‘the queen of oversharing,’” she recalls. “What does it say about us that a woman who speaks the truth of her experience should be dismissed for telling more than the world feels comfortable hearing?”

    “The death of The Voice isn’t just about the end of a newspaper,” writes former columnist Tricia Romano. “ To some of us at least, it’s about the end of New York as a cultural and political center, as the place that the world turned to for art, for music, for leadership in new and uncomfortable ideas, often perceived by the mainstream to be dangerous or weird.”

    The Guardian takes a look at the archives of the Man Booker prize, which have been put online in honor of its fiftieth anniversary. Highlights include 1969 and 1970 judge Rebecca West’s disdain for, among others, Kingsley Amis (“curiously disappointing”) and John le Carré (for writing “according to formula”), as well as details of the coin toss that awarded the 1976 prize to David Storey for Saville.

  • September 6, 2018

    New York Times op-ed editor James Dao talks to CNN about his decision to publish an essay by an anonymous Trump administration official. “We felt it was a very strong piece written by someone who had something important to say and who’s speaking from a place of their own sense of personal ethics and conscience,” he said. “That was our main focus.” Axios has collected responses to the essay from Trump’s supporters and detractors. “What the author has just done is throw the government of the United States into even more dangerous turmoil,” David Frum writes at The Atlantic. “He or she has enflamed the paranoia of the president and empowered the president’s willfulness.”

    Lisa Halliday. Photo: Vittore Buzzi

    The Center for Fiction has released the shortlist for this year’s First Novel Prize. Nominees include Lisa Halliday’s Asymmetry, Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater, and Tommy Orange’s There There. The winner will be announced later this year.

    Rolling Stone’s Ilana Kaplan profiles Cherry author Nico Walker, who is currently serving an eleven-year sentence in federal prison for bank robbery.

    In response to recent layoffs at The Outline, members of the Study Hall collective have written an open letter stating that they will not write for the website. Journalists and writers who belong to the group say that although they’ve written for the publication before and appreciate its unique voice, they “cannot allow Josh Topolsky and his investors to rely on our loyalty to The Outline’s vision when they choose to devalue writers’ work and treat our ability to survive as externalities.”

    “In a fight for survival, the average mainstream magazine is undergoing an identity crisis,” writes The Ringer’s Alyssa Bereznak on Vogue, Beyoncé, and the changing purpose of magazine covers, which “now function as advertisements for something far beyond a single magazine issue: merchandise, collector’s items, spinoff publications, books, recommended products, behind-the-scenes YouTube videos, television shows, and in-person events or conferences.”

    “If I was alive I would arrange to have them killed and if I were dead I would come back and haunt them,” says Transcription author Kate Atkinson of the prospect of someone writing her life story. “I can’t think of anything more horrible.”

    Tonight at Greenlight Books in Brooklyn, Catherine Lacey talks to Alexander Chee about her new story collection, Certain American States.

  • September 5, 2018

    The Outline has laid off six employees, including the site’s two staff writers, Fast Company reports. “This news is not fun. It sucks to cut good people,” editor Joshua Topolsky told the Wall Street Journal’s Ben Mullin. “But it is incredibly important to build something sustainable.”  

    Walter Mosley. Photo: David Shankbone

    “American democracy requires a functioning press that informs voters and creates a shared set of facts,” argues Chuck Todd in The Atlantic’s Ideas section, which officially launched yesterday. “If journalists are going to defend the integrity of their work, and the role it plays in sustaining democracy, we’re going to need to start fighting back.”

    At Lithub, Walter Mosley reflects on history, power, and his new novel, John Woman. “When you can eliminate or paralyze identity, make your enemies’ cultures either nonexistent or criminal then you’ve done one better than genocide,” he writes, “you’ve made it so that not only is your enemy gone, she never even existed.”

    If you want to know what happens to a country that has opened itself entirely to Facebook, look to the Philippines,” writes BuzzFeed News’s Davey Alba.  “What happened there — what continues to happen there — is both an origin story for the weaponization of social media and a peek at its dystopian future.”

    Despite the recent backlash against the New Yorker’s decision to invite Steve Bannon to speak at its festival, The Economist has defended its choice to host a similar conversation at its own Open Future Festival. At the New York Times, Bret Stephens claims that Bannon’s disinvitation means that David Remnick “is no longer the editor of The New Yorker. Twitter is.” At the Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan writes that interviewing people like Bannon is of little use to society. “Challenging the likes of Bannon . . . only makes these figures into folk heroes, bravely telling their would-be truths to a corrupt media elite,” she explains. “It would be better to stop obsessively looking back at how Trump came to be, turning 2016 this way and that like some dark prism.”

  • September 4, 2018

    David Remnick will no longer be interviewing Steve Bannon as part of the New Yorker Festival next month after the invitation drew intense pushback, including the loss of several participants. “There is a better way to do this,” Remnick said in a statement. “If the opportunity presents itself I’ll interview him in a more traditionally journalistic setting as we first discussed, and not on stage.”

    Astra Taylor

    “When you don’t have equal rights, it gives you a different perspective,” says What Is Democracy? director Astra Taylor on how growing up as a permanent resident in the US has informed her work. “Of course, this is speaking as a Canadian who’s about as privileged a permanent resident as you can be, but I still couldn’t vote in elections. I can pay taxes but not vote. This informed my perspective; we can’t limit democracy to a citizen.”

    Watch the first trailer for HBO’s adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend at Vulture.

    Former NPR executive editor Madhulika Sikka is joining the Washington Post to work on the paper’s daily podcast.

    Former Village Voice writers reflect on the paper’s closing. Susan Brownmiller says the Voice taught her how to write. At the New Yorker, Peter Schjeldahl remembers his years there as “the most fun I’ve ever had as a critic.” “I could consult with a canny photographer . . . to double the thrust, or the irony, of each column. I could take for granted a hip audience that required a minimum of exposition, and was game for jumping into the deep end of the subject at hand,” he writes. “I never worked at the office, but I recall a thrill nearly every time I entered it.”