• Namwali Serpell. Photo: Peg Skorpinski
    February 20, 2020

    Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists announced; The power of female literary trios

    The Aspen Words Literary Prize shortlist was announced yesterday. The nominees are Christy Lefteri’s The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Brian Allen Carr’s Opioid Indiana, Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Patsy, Bryan Washington’s Lot, and Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in April.

    The Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists were also announced yesterday. Nominees include Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift, Ben Lerner’s The Topeka School, and, in the newly added Science Fiction category, Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf. Walter Mosley will receive a lifetime

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  • Julia Phillips. Photo: Nina Subin
    February 19, 2020

    Conor Dougherty on books about the housing crisis; Julia Phillips on the legacy of violence

    Golden Gates author Conor Dougherty lists the books that helped him write his study of the Bay Area’s housing crisis. “Anytime you read a book, even a bad one, you see someone do something you hadn’t thought of before, and it informs how you approach your next piece,” he writes. Selections include Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, Nikole Hannah-Jones’s Living Apart, and Walter Mosley’s White Butterfly.

    Pittsburgh’s African American Cultural Center is creating a permanent exhibit about playwright August Wilson. Opening later this year, August Wilson: A Writer’s Landscape will be arranged in three

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  • Brandon Taylor. Photo: Bill Adams
    February 18, 2020

    Charles Portis has died; Brandon Taylor on being a “reluctant novelist”

    The reclusive writer Charles Portis—author of Norwood and True Grit, among other novels—has died at the age of eighty-six. The New York Times characterizes his work as a mix of “deadpan humor, oddball characters and occasional bursts of melodrama.” For more on Portis, see Ed Park’s 2003 essay from The Believer: “Like Cormac McCarthy, But Funny.”

    At The Outline, Leah Finnegan makes the case for why “We Should All Read more Jenny Diski”: “The casual frankness with which Diski writes is striking, and a necessary tonic in a media landscape prone to making everything seem more urgent than it is.”

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  • Andrea Bernstein. Photo: Matthew Septimus.
    February 14, 2020

    Conde Nast opening five film studios; Andrea Bernstein on oligarchy in America

    Conde Nast’s entertainment division is launching television and film studios for five magazines: the New Yorker, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Wired and GQ. Each studio will identify editorial projects for screen adaptations and podcasts. New Yorker Studios will produce “Spiderhead” for Netflix, a series based on the George Saunders short story.

    The McClatchy Company, which publishes thirty local newspapers across the country, is filing for bankruptcy. The newspaper chain is more than $700 million in debt. The proposal has hedge fund Chatham Asset Management running McClatchy as a private company.


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  • Hamed Aleaziz
    February 13, 2020

    Hamed Aleaziz on investigating ICE; Zadie Smith on Kara Walker

    The New Republic is redesigning its print edition, introducing a metered paywall to its website, and has launched a new podcast, The Politics of Everything. Editor Chris Lehmann said that the new look has a “strong editorial message at the heart of it. The New Republic was created to address industrial capitalism and the rise of consumer culture . . . and in many ways we are facing many similar challenges in the age of Donald Trump

    A man has been charged with the muder of Irish journalist Lyra McKee, who was shot last year during a riot in Derry. For on McKee’s life and death, see this

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  • Jenny Offill
    February 12, 2020

    Reuters creates an AI reporter; Jenny Offill on climate-change fears

    In the New York Times, Lucinda Rosenfeld reviews Adrienne Miller’s In the Land of Men, a memoir about working for men’s glossy magazines such as Esquire and GQ in the 1990s and her conflicted feelings about David Foster Wallace.

    Reuters has created a virtual sports-reporter powered by artificial intelligence. Synthesia, a firm that worked on the project, told reporters, “AI-generated content will be a cornerstone of the media landscape in the coming decade.” (In the meantime, you can ask Siri questions about the election.) Reuters is also launching a fact-checking business and will work for

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  • Jenn Shapland. Photo: Christian Michael Fildardo
    February 11, 2020

    Pedro Almodóvar working on A Manual for Cleaning Women film; Jenn Shapland on love and objects

    At the New York Times, MJ Franklin talks to Brandon Taylor about short stories, choosing between science and writing, and his new book, Real Life. Before attending the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Taylor was a Ph.D. student in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin. “I have this very technical approach to almost everything,” he said. “If there is a problem, I first determine the parameters of the problem, and then I try to lay out a very systematic way of doing it.”

    Doubleday has bought a debut novel by literary agent Rachel Yoder. Nightbitch tells the story of “a former artist, now

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  • Sally Rooney. Photo: © Jonny L Davies
    February 10, 2020

    A new prize will provide $100,000 to women and nonbinary writers

    Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine removed from her post last spring, is writing a book, and is being represented by the Javelin literary agency, which also represents John Bolton, James Comey, and the anonymous Trump administration official who wrote A Warning.

    A new annual literary prize will provide more than $100,000 to women and nonbinary writers living in the US or Canada. The prize, named after the late Pulitzer-winning Carol Shields, author of the novel The Stone Diaries, will start in 2022.

    The BBC has posted “everything you need to know” about the new miniseries based

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  • Lidia Yuknavitch
    February 07, 2020

    Marilynne Robinson announces next book in Gilead series; Lidia Yuknavitch's favorite writing advice

    Marilynne Robinson will publish the next installment of her Gilead series this year. According to the book listing, “Jack tells the story of John Ames Boughton, the black sheep of his family, the beloved and grieved-over prodigal son of a Presbyterian minister in Gilead, Iowa, a drunkard and a ne’er-do-well.” Jack will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux next October.

    Lidia Yuknavitch tells Literary Hub about her favorite books, the best writing advice she’s ever received, and her new book, Verge. Yuknavitch offers two pieces of writing advice: “Never surrender (Ken Kesey), and when

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  • Jenny Offill. Photo: Gwint
    February 06, 2020

    Spotify buys The Ringer; Parul Sehgal profiles Jenny Offill

    For the New York Times Magazine, Parul Sehgal profiles Jenny Offill, whose new novel Weather is out next week. “Offill doesn’t write about the climate crisis but from deep within it. She does not paint pictures of apocalyptic scenarios; she charts internal cartographies. We observe her characters’ lurching shame, despair, boredom and fatigue — solastalgia experienced in ordinary life, vying with the demands of aging parents, small children, the churn of the mind,” Sehgal writes. “What she is doing, her friend the novelist Adam Ross told me, is coming as close as anyone ever has to writing the

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  • Miranda Popkey. Photo: Elena Seibert
    February 05, 2020

    Emily Books stops publishing; Miranda Popkey on truth in fiction

    Emily Gould and Ruth Curry are shutting down their publishing imprint, Emily Books. “When we launched the first Emily Books website, in 2011, all we knew was that we wanted to make a certain kind of book more widely available. . . . We wanted to celebrate narratives that took place outside of convention, outside of heterosexuality, outside of a world that men controlled,” they wrote in their announcement. “While we’re thrilled that the voices and stories we’ve been championing for years have lately become more ‘marketable,’ it’s made it harder for us to compete with publishers whose resources

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  • Edwidge Danticat. Photo: Lynn Savarese
    February 04, 2020

    Scarlett Thomas on dark humor; Edwidge Danticat wins Vilcek Prize

    Literary critic, professor, and novelist George Steiner has died at the age of 90. Steiner wrote over twenty books and was the New Yorker’s senior book reviewer for three decades. “Admirers of Mr. Steiner found his erudition and his arguments brilliant,” the New York Times writes.

    Edwidge Danticat has won the 2020 Vilcek Prize for Excellence in Literature. Danticat will receive the award at a ceremony in New York this spring.

    Melissa Harris-Perry is joining Zora Magazine as editor at large.

    Washington Post employees say that the recent suspension of reporter Felicia Sonmez is evidence of

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