paper trail

China in the Spotlight at BEA 2015

Stacy Schiff

According to Publishers Weekly, the 2015 Book Expo America, which wrapped up this weekend in New York, was “lively.” The “most talked about books” were, the magazine reports, Jonathan Franzen’s Purity and Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire (Stacy Schiff’s The Witches was also in the spotlight). China did, as PW points out, feature prominently in this year’s BEA, occupying a large area front and center as attendees entered the convention center. But the area seemed, for the most part, free of traffic. PEN America, for one, questioned the focus on China, issuing a report titled “Censorship and Conscience: Foreign Authors and the Challenge of Chinese Censorship.” PEN also launched a campaign titled “Governments Make Bad Editors,” which “countered the aggressive propaganda presented by the state-sponsored delegation in its China-focused events.”

James Frey, best known for his book A Million Little Pieces (and for annoying Oprah), has a new project: a “science fiction space franchise” that has publishers “hot and bothered,” and Fox 2000 reportedly backing a film adaptation rumored to be directed by Joe and Anthony Russo.

Esther Kaplan has won the 2015 MOLLY National Journalism Award for her article “Losing Sparta: The Bitter Truth Behind the Gospel of Productivity,” which appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Natasha Vargas-Cooper reports on the Title IX charges that graduate students have filed against author Laura Kipnis after she wrote an essay titled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe.” Kipnis herself has described her difficulties in determining just what she is being charged with, and how she can defend herself: “I wrote to the Title IX coordinator asking for clarification: When would I learn the specifics of these complaints, which, I pointed out, appeared to violate my academic freedom? And what about my rights—was I entitled to a lawyer? I received a polite response with a link to another website. No, I could not have an attorney present during the investigation, unless I’d been charged with sexual violence. I was, however, allowed to have a 'support person' from the university community there, though that person couldn’t speak.” Vargas-Cooper calls the situation “a stunning example of feminism devouring itself.”

Novelist Chuck Palahniuk says that director David Fincher is hoping to transform the novel Fight Club into a rock opera.