The National Book Awards were announced last night in Manhattan. Phil Klay won for his short-story collection Redeployment (beating out our favorite, Marilynne Robinson), Louise Glück won for her poetry collection Faithful and Virtuous Night, and Evan Osnos won for his nonfiction book Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China. Ursula K. Le Guin received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In her speech, Le Guin was critical: The literary community should take science fiction and fantasy more seriously, and writers and editors should stop blindly trying to make books make more money. William Vollmann wrote about Klay in our summer issue.
Also last night, a black-tie event in Washington celebrated the New Republic’s one-hundredth birthday. But the fate of the magazine looks uncertain. The owner, Chris Hughes, has been pushing it in a more commercial direction, and likes to refer to the operation as a “digital media company.” In September, Hughes brought in Yahoo News’s Guy Vidra as chief executive. The two have said that they mean to bring in millions more visitors by publishing stories that “travel well” on the Internet. Politico points out that TNR may soon look less like the magazine celebrated last night and “a little more like BuzzFeed.”
The second Moby-Dick marathon lasted twenty-four nonconsecutive hours this weekend and included around a hundred and fifty readers.
Emily Gould is looking forward to Jonathan Franzen’s new novel. Why is everyone else so bad-tempered about it? “OK, so he hates the internet and thinks iPhones are the devil. So he’s published some personal writing that has a weird mix of unsparing, highly attuned observation and gaping blind spots about his own failings and culpability—who hasn’t? For every false note he hits, Franzen has written at least one deathless perfect sentence or sketched an indelible character.”