• Grace Paley. Photo: Karl Bissinger
    December 12, 2019

    Justin Taylor on Grace Paley; How winning the Nobel Prize affects book sales

    Justin Taylor asks friends and colleagues to join him in reflecting on Grace Paley’s work. Her first book, The Little Disturbances of Man, was published sixty years ago. “Any story that’s worth anything will be different every time you come back to it. And every Grace Paley story is worth something. Some of them, I suspect, are worth everything,” he writes. “You re-read them and they re-read you and that mixture of revelation and return is why you do it. If this is what a haunting is I hope I never find the end of mine.”

    At the Columbia Journalism Review, Sarah Weinman looks at Break in the

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  • Michael Chabon. Photo: Gage Skidmore
    December 11, 2019

    Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay gets TV adaptation; Bloomberg buys CityLab

    At the New York Times, Emma Goldberg looks at the decline of feminist blogs and websites. After a decade of feminist publishing, a wave of websites like The Hairpin, The Toast, and most recently, Feministing, have shut down. “It was this amazing moment where we were making careers out of blogging in our underwear. Now it’s not a good time for start-up media,” former Feministing editor and current Teen Vogue editor Samhita Mukhopadhyay said of the era. “I worry that people are afraid to align themselves with publications that are explicitly feminist.”

    Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of

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  • Esmé Weijun Wang. Photo: Kristin Cofer
    December 10, 2019

    Esmé Weijun Wang signs two-book deal with Riverhead; Nobel literature laureates give lectures

    Esmé Weijun Wang has signed a two-book deal with Riverhead, Entertainment Weekly reports. The announcement included details about the two upcoming titles: Soft Animals will be a novel “about a chronically ill woman who moves into a small-town lodge with her volatile husband after inheriting it from the parents of a hate-crime victim,” while The Unexpected Shape will be a nonfiction book that explores “the balance between ambition and limitation in contemporary life.” Publication dates have not been announced.

    The 2019 Nobel literature laureates have given their lectures. Olga Tokarczuk spoke

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  • Jia Tolentino
    December 09, 2019

    The finalists for the 2019 John Leonard Prize have been announced

    In our favorite podcast of the week, book critic Parul Sehgal discusses Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley series with Terry Castle, Gillian Flynn, and Hanya Yanagihara. Highlight: when Alexander Chee compares Ripley to Bugs Bunny.

    Oprah magazine has posted a list of “31 LGBTQ Books That’ll Change the Literary Landscape in 2020.” Included on the list are novels by Garth Greenwell and Ilana Masad, poetry collections by Danez Smith and Mark Bibbins, debuts by Kate Milliken and Tomasz Jedrowski, memoirs by Jennifer Finney Boylan and Paul Lisicky, genre-defying work by Jenn Shapland, and more.


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  • Lisa Taddeo. Photo: J. Waite
    December 06, 2019

    Pulitzer Prize board creates new category; Lisa Taddeo on desire

    The Pulitzer Prize Board has created a new Audio Reporting award category for 2020. “The renaissance of audio journalism in recent years has given rise to an extraordinary array of non-fiction storytelling,” Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy said in a statement. “To recognize the best of that work, the Pulitzer Board is launching an experimental category to honor it.”

    The Guardian talks to Lisa Taddeo about nuance, intimacy, and her recent book, Three Women. “We don’t want to see ourselves sometimes,” she said of the negative reaction to her book. “I’ve always liked to see myself in books.

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  • Akwaeke Emezi. Photo: Elizabeth Wirija
    December 05, 2019

    Sharon Marcus on capitalism and bildungsromans; Akwaeke Emezi on her new novel

    The 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program recipients have been announced. Grantees include Jillian Steinhauer, Elvia Wilk, and more.

    Starting next month, Doreen St. Felix will be writing the television column for the New Yorker.

    The television rights to Jeff VanderMeer’s Borne novels have been bought by AMC Studios, Deadline reports.

    At The Believer, Sharon Marcus reflects on capitalism, bildungsromans, and Sally Rooney. “What happens to coming-of-age tales when young people who have been assigned little value beyond their capacity for labor no longer have any labor to

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  • Naja Marie Aidt. Photo: Mikkel Tjellesen
    December 04, 2019

    Ken Liu on translating Chinese science fiction; Naja Marie Aidt on writing through grief

    “I questioned myself many times: why would I take on the pain of writing this book––writing it in the middle of my raw grief, in the middle of my shock and my trauma?” Naja Marie Aidt tells John Freeman about writing her recently published book, When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back. “I didn’t want my son’s story to kind of meld into every book I would write in the future, and I also knew, most importantly, that, you know, I was completely changed as a human being, as a person, and maybe also as a writer. So I felt I had no choice but to find a way to express this, or explore this

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  • Kristen Arnett. Photo: Maria Jones
    December 03, 2019

    The New Yorker's best books of the year; Lore Segal's “complicated love letter” to her editors

    The New Yorker's Katy Waldman lists her best books of 2019. Favorites include Kristen Arnett's Mostly Dead Things, Carmen Maria Machado's In the Dream House, and Bernardine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other.

    Two members of a Nobel Prize in Literature reform committee resigned yesterday, The Guardian reports. According to the paper, one of the departing members left because “the work to change the culture in the Swedish Academy was taking too long.”

    The Maris Review talks to Lane Moore about trauma, experience, and her new memoir, How to Be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don’t. “With the

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  • December 02, 2019

    Hilton Als on Joan Didion's early novels

    Australian critic, poet, and TV personality Clive James died last week. The author of many books (including Cultural Amnesia, which included appreciations of modern artists and thinkers, and a tribute to Philip Larkin), reviews, as well as pieces on Princess Diana, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and much, much more, James was funny, insightful, and deeply influential. A 2003 profile of James by A.O. Scott was titled “The Hungriest Critic of All.” According to Leo Robson in the New Statesman: “The writer I wanted to learn from was Clive James.” His writing is “alive in every phrase,” says Adam Gopnik

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  • Jill Filipovic
    November 27, 2019

    Jill Filipovic writing new book; The New York Public Library's best books of the year

    Jill Filipovic is writing a new book. OK Boomer: Let’s Talk: Dispatches from a Generational Divide will “look beyond the ‘humorous meme’ and explore issues such as student debt, healthcare and climate change.” OK Boomer will be published by One Signal Books in late 2020.

    The New York Public Library has released its list of the one hundred best books of 2019. The top ten includes Sally Rooney’s Normal People, Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, and Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Thick.

    At Literary Hub, Tarisai Ngangura explores the storytelling legacies of Jay-Z and Rakim and reflects

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  • Amitav Ghosh. Photo: Ivo van der Bent
    November 26, 2019

    Amitav Ghosh on his new novel; Books for getting through the holidays

    Amitav Ghosh talks to First Draft about what he wants readers to take away from his new novel, Gun Island. “I want them to come away with . . . the sense that the world is much stranger than we think, and the ways in which our world is changing is itself very strange, very uncanny, and very disturbing,” he said. “We have to try to grapple with it and make sense of it.”

    In the New York Times Book Review, Parul Sehgal looks at how women’s anger has featured in the novels of the last decade. “With their deep unconventionality, their ire, intensity and excess, they have spurred debates about the

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  • Christopher Hitchens
    November 25, 2019

    Sontag, Hitchens, and More: Revisiting Lectures Given at the New York Institute for the Humanities

    Eric Banks and Robert Boynton have started posting recordings of lectures that have been given at the New York Institute for the Humanities. A few highlights so far: Ryszard Kapuscinski’s 2004 discussion of Herodotus, Susan Sontag’s 1977 lecture on “Illness as Metaphor,” and James Fenton’s interview of Christopher Hitchens about the latter’s memoir Hitch-22. You can find those recordings and more here.

    The New York Times spotlights New Jersey’s Montclair Book Center, a 9,000-square-foot “throwback to a funkier, more literate time,” which is stocked with hundreds of thousands of best sellers,

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