paper trail

Andy Ward named publisher of Random House; Julia Phillips on what it means to be a writer

Julia Phillips

Random House editor in chief Andy Ward will succeed the late Susan Kamil as the imprint’s executive vice president and publisher, the New York Times reports. In a memo announcing the move to staff, publisher Gina Centrello “noted that Ms. Kamil had expressed her hope that Mr. Ward might one day take over her role.” Knopf editorial director Robin Desser will replace Ward as editor in chief of Random House.

After Swedish PEN awarded its annual Tucholsky prize to imprisoned Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai, the Chinese embassy in the country has told Sweden that it will “suffer the consequences of their own actions,” calling the decision “not only a sheer farce, but also a mockery of genuine freedom of speech and a slap in the face of Swedish PEN itself.”

Brian Gresko talks to Julia Phillips about violence, what it means to be a writer, and her new novel, Disappearing Earth. “The whole process is opaque. Not just putting out a book, but what it means to be a writer,” she said. “So many published writers still wonder, ‘What is writing? What am I doing? I don’t know how to do anything and everything is a mess!’”

At Literary Hub, Jeff Jackson reflects on novelist Dennis Cooper’s shift from writing to filmmaking. “It’s not surprising that one of Permanent Green Light’s most striking features is its use of dialogue,” Jackson writes of Cooper’s second film. “Where most contemporary movies treat dialogue as an afterthought, Cooper draws on his novelistic talents to craft revealing, emotionally complex, and slyly hilarious exchanges between the characters.”

Entertainment Weekly’s Leah Greenblatt examines the “biggest book trend of the decade”: the unreliable female narrator. “When female presidential candidates are labeled shrill or nasty or damningly, unconscionably ‘persistent’ (nevertheless!); when female bosses in the workplace walk a razor’s edge between projecting calm authority and wanton bitchery, or kindness conflated for weakness; there can be real catharsis in novels when female protagonists are allowed to be human in every messy, wildly imperfect sense of that word,” she writes.