paper trail

Michiko Kakutani leaves the "New York Times," Parul Sehgal becomes the paper's newest book critic

Parul Sehgal. Photo: David Surowiecki

After nearly forty years with the paper, the New York Times’s chief book critic Michiko Kakutani is stepping down. The Times has a round up of the best of Kakutani’s thirty-year years of reviewing. Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo reports that Kakutani accepted a buyout offer, and plans to “branch out and write more essays about culture and politics in Trump’s America.” Known for launching the career of writers like David Foster Wallace and Zadie Smith, “Kakutani’s departure will instantly change the shape of the publishing world,” Pompeo writes. “She wielded the paper’s power with remarkable confidence and abandon.”

New York Times Book Review senior editor and columnist Parul Sehgal has been named book critic at the Times.

Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad has won the Arthur C. Clarke award. The announcement comes one day after Whitehead’s book was included on the Man Booker Prize longlist.

Novelist Jane Green tells the New York Times’s “By the Book” that Cat Marnell’s How to Murder Your Life taught her a valuable lesson. In the book, Marnell wrote that in rehab she was taught to ignore negative thoughts by imagining “her brain was coated in Teflon,” a technique that stuck with Green after reading the book. “It is utterly brilliant, works like a charm and, given that I have been employing it since I read the book, may have changed my life,” she said.

Despite a renewed interest in O.J. Simpson, as well as his release on parole, TMZ reports that “major publishers will NOT be scrambling to offer him a book deal after he gets out of prison.” In addition to the fact that his last planned book If I Did It led to a HarperCollins publisher losing her job, Javelin president Keith Urbahn says that “consumers won’t spend 20 bucks on a self-aggrandizing book about how he’s turned his life around.”

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza recalls a ranting phone call from the new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, in response to a tweet that Lizza had sent earlier in the evening about Scaramucci having dinner with the president, first lady, Sean Hannity, and former Fox News co-president Bill Shine. After Lizza refused to reveal his source for the information, Scaramucci became convinced that the leak came from Reince Priebus. Referring to Priebus as a “paranoiac,” Scaramucci imitated the chief of staff as he explained a possible motive for the leak: “‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months.”