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PEN America Literary Award finalists announced; Elizabeth McCracken on avoiding her literary heroes

Nafissa Thompson-Spires

The 2019 PEN America Literary Award finalists have been announced. Nominees include Helen DeWitt’s Some Trick, Ling Ma’s Severance, Nafissa Thompson-Spires’s Heads of the Colored People, and Alexander Chee’s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, among many others. Winners will be announced in February.

Jim Acosta, the chief White House correspondent for CNN, is writing a book about Trump and his administration’s hostility toward the media. The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America will tell "never-before-revealed stories of this White House's rejection of truth, while laying out the stakes for how Trump's hostility toward facts poses an unprecedented threat to our democracy." The book will be published by Harper in June.

Elizabeth McCracken talks to the New York Times “By the Book” column about avoiding literary heroes, reading while working, and her previous work as a librarian.

BuzzFeed has announced plans to layoff over two hundred employees. In an email to staff, CEO Jonah Peretti explained the decision. “The restructuring we are undertaking will reduce our costs and improve our operating model so we can thrive and control our own destiny, without ever needing to raise funding again,” he wrote. “These changes will allow us to be the clear winner in the market as the economics of digital media continue to improve.” HuffPost has also started the layoff process.

Fifty Shades of Grey author E. L. James is writing a new novel. The Mister, which will be published by Vintage in April, “tells the story of Maxim Trevelyan, a privileged and aristocratic Englishman, and Alessia Demachi, a mysterious young woman with musical gifts and a dangerous past who has recently arrived in London.” In a statement, James called the book “a Cinderella story for the 21st century.”