• July 26, 2018

    Kevin Jared Hosein

    Kevin Jared Hosein has won the Commonwealth Prize for his short story, “Passage,” which was written in Trinidadian English Creole. Although Hosein was concerned that readers might not understand the language, novelist and Commonwealth Prize jury chair Sarah Hall said that the story was a quick favorite. “It balances between formal language and demotic, ideas of civility and ferality, is tightly woven and suspenseful, beautifully and eerily atmospheric, and finally surprising,” she said.

    Daniel Kolitz attends the fifth annual David Foster Wallace Conference in Illinois, where organizers and attendees wonder how to “negotiate the fact that we have a brilliant author who did some despicable things.”

    Entertainment Weekly’s David Canfield looks at the summer books that have topped the New York Times bestseller list, which until recently was occupied almost entirely by political books.

    Troy Young has been named president of Hearst. Young will replace David Carey, who is retiring at the end of the year.

    Joanna Rothkopf has been hired as the deputy editor of Esquire.com. Rothkopf was most recently a senior editor at Jezebel.

    At Vulture, Christian Lorentzen reviews Nico Walker’s debut novel about war, addiction, and incarceration. “Cherry provides a meticulous narrative of opioid addiction, one of the most detailed account I’ve seen in American lit . . . since we became aware that the country was experiencing an epidemic. There’s less an arc or a downward spiral than a very gradual sinking.”

    Tonight at McNally Jackson Books in Manhattan, Emma Cline talks to Lexi Freiman about her new book Inappropriation.

  • July 25, 2018

    Laura van den Berg

    Laura van den Berg talks to the Paris Review about tourism, zombies, and her latest novel, The Third Hotel. Van den Berg says that she started writing the book while living in a possibly-haunted home at Bard College. “I had been bouncing around between various campuses for a few years and that winter I was on the road a lot because I had just put out my first book and my husband and I were spending too much time apart and my father was ill—life felt so transient, as if everything was moving too quickly for me to absorb anything,” she said. “So the book sprung from a tangle of chaotic feelings—plus an attic ceiling that would unfold itself in the middle of the night.”

    Haruki Murakami’s latest novel, Killing Commendatore, has been banned in Hong Kong for obscenity.

    Lin-Manuel Miranda is working on a limited series for FX based on Sam Wasson’s biography of filmmaker Bob Fosse.

    At Book Marks, Amitava Kumar shares “his list of five books about finding love.”

    US Olympic Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad talks to the New York Times about death threats, competition, and her new memoir, Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream.

    In a memo written in March and obtained yesterday by BuzzFeed News, outgoing chief security officer Alex Stamos implored Facebook employees to prioritize user privacy and safety over profits. “We need to listen to people (including internally) when they tell us a feature is creepy or point out a negative impact we are having in the world,” Stamos wrote. “We need to be willing to pick sides when there are clear moral or humanitarian issues. And we need to be open, honest and transparent about our challenges and what we are doing to fix them.” Yesterday, Facebook decided that a livestreamed rant by Alex Jones of Infowars, in which he leveled unfounded accusations of pedophilia and threatened violence against Robert Mueller, was not in violation of the company’s policies.

  • July 24, 2018

    Rachel Kushner

    The longlist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize has been announced. Nominees include Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room, Richard Powers’s The Overstory, and Sally Rooney’s Normal People. The list also includes Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina, the first graphic novel to be longlisted for the prize.

    Susan Fowler Rigetti, the former Uber engineer whose Medium post about sexual harassment at the company led to the firing of its CEO, is joining the New York Times as a San Francisco–based technology opinion editor.

    Tronc is making severe staff cuts at the New York Daily News. The New York Times reports that 50 percent of the staff will be laid off, including editor in chief Jim Rich and managing editor Kristen Lee.

    Empire Falls author Richard Russo wonders how novelists can write about school shootings in an age where they have become commonplace—and politically divisive—events. “As a nation, we have not decided that our children are more important than our guns, and any new novel on the subject will have to address that tectonic shift,” he writes. “We’ve changed. Our nation has changed. A 2018 “Empire Falls” would have to be set in a tribal America that has stopped listening, that may have little interest in a novelist’s musings.”

    “A good rule of thumb in business, and in life generally, is that if you find yourself defending Holocaust deniers, you’ve probably taken a wrong turn somewhere,” writes the New Republic’s Alex Shephard on Mark Zuckerberg’s explanation of why Facebook allows conspiracy theories and fake news to remain on the site. “To win points with Republicans in Congress, Facebook is courting crazies. Furthermore, by embracing the very people who make its platform toxic, it is going to alienate mainstream users and invite regulatory scrutiny from Democrats, who want to know why Facebook isn’t doing more to kick out sites like InfoWars.”

  • 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.”

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