paper trail

Editor's chair to remain empty, for now; Putin convenes literary assembly, writers balk

Boris Akunin

The New York Times Magazine will take a bit longer before deciding who the new editor, replacing Hugo Lindgren, will be. Times executive editor Jill Abramson sent a memo to staff on Friday saying there were “urgent issues and questions” to consider before the new appointment, and has named a committee to “plunge into the challenges facing the magazine.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has created a new writers’ club, the Literary Assembly, which will hold its first congress in the spring of 2014, ahead of 2015 being designated a “Year of Literature” in Russia. “The Kremlin intends [the assembly] as a replacement for the Union of Russian Writers, itself the replacement for the Union of Soviet Writers,” writes The Guardian’s book blog, “which was established under Stalin in the 1930s, to catastrophic cultural effect. Allegedly, more than 1,000 Russian writers, critics and publishers will participate.” Grigory Chkhartishvili, who writes detective fiction under the pen-name Boris Akunin, was not impressed: “I would enjoy talking to Putin about literature after all the political prisoners are released. Until then, it is not possible."

The National Book Critics Circle has announced the finalists for the first ever John Leonard Prize, which honors an outstanding debut book.

The New Yorker is starting a poetry podcast hosted by Paul Muldoon. First up, Philip Levine reads and discusses Ellen Bass.

Fans and friends mourn the death of YA novelist Ned Vizzini, the author of It's Kind of a Funny Story.

At Hyperallergic, Bookforum editor Albert Mobilio considers Vivian Maier’s self-portraits.

Over the weekend, M. Lynx Qualey of the ArabLit blog took a break from all of the annual year in reviews to honor the shortest day of the year, posting twelve very short stories from around the Middle East, including Adania Shibli’s “Silence” and Ibrahim al-Koni’s “The Teacher.”