paper trail

National Book Award finalists announced; Alexandra Jacobs on writing biographies

Marlon James. Photo: Jeffrey Skemp

The finalists for the National Book Awards have been announced. Nominees include Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House, Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police, and Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Thick. Winners will be announced in November.

Alexandra Jacobs talks to Literary Hub about her experience writing her latest book, Still Here: The Madcap, Nervy, Singular Life of Elaine Stritch. “Unlike so many who quake at the blank page I feel confident beginning—less so wrapping things up,” she said. “That’s why biography is nice because you know how it’s going to end.”

During a recent interview with the Extinction Rebellion podcast, Jonathan Franzen “warned that hate speech on social media is dividing humanity and preventing the cooperation needed to tackle the environmental crisis,” The Guardian reports. “In the context of a threatened social order, the kind of polarisation and hysteria and real hate speech that is occurring primarily on the internet, much less often face to face, is part of the problem,” he said. Franzen also noted that he is not on social media himself, so he only experiences “the Twitter rage . . . through the accounts of a couple friends who have not learned that they shouldn’t tell me about these things.”

At The Daily Beast, Kevin Poulsen and Maxwell Tani investigate “the company behind the non-partisan news site RealClearPolitics,” which for the last five years has been secretly running “Conservative Country,” “a Facebook page filled with far-right memes and Islamophobic smears.”

Former Weekly Standard editor Steve Hayes and ex-National Review editor Jonah Goldberg are launching a conservative media company, Axios reports. “Citing ‘worriesome’ trends in journalism on the right,” The Dispatch aims to promote conservative viewpoints with “fact-based arguments.” Though they claim the site will not be “a booster of President Trump,” in a letter to readers the cofounders also noted that they “are not launching The Dispatch as an indictment of anyone or anything.”