paper trail

Writers sign open letter to Donald Trump; Tom Hanks to publish short story collection

Tom Hanks

More than sixty writers and artists have signed an open letter from PEN America to President Trump denouncing his executive order on immigration. Signatories include Zadie Smith, Philip Roth, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, among others. “Not only will such a policy prevent great artists from performing,” the letter states, “but it will constrict the interchange of important ideas, isolating the U.S. politically and culturally.” Most of the writers and artists who signed the letter are less than hopeful that it will have any effect on the president. Novelist Jeffrey Eugenides compared the letter to “shouting into a void.” New Yorker staff writer George Packer said that he doesn’t expect high-level Trump officials to pay attention, “but perhaps it will give heart to officials lower down, and to foreigners who wonder if America is losing what makes it great.”

Milo Yiannopoulos resigned from Breitbart yesterday. At a press conference, Yiannopoulos refuted claims that he endorsed pedophelia, but said that it “would be wrong to allow my poor choice of words to detract from my colleagues’ important reporting.” Yiannopoulos said he still plans to release Dangerous with another publisher and is working on an independent media venture of his own. BuzzFeed has collected writers’ reactions to the news, including Roxane Gay, who pointed out that Simon & Schuster don’t deserve praise for dropping Yiannopoulos’s book. “They were fine with his racist and xenophobic and sexist ideologies,” Gay writes. “A great many people were perfectly comfortable with the targets of Milo’s hateful attention until that attention hit too close to home.” At Entertainment Weekly, James Hibberd compares Dangerous to other controversial books—like O.J. Simpson’s If I Did It and Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho—that were seen as “a potential bestseller that’s also considered untouchable.” Polis Books publisher Jason Pinter said, “Never say never—I’d be shocked if the book doesn’t come out one way or another in the next six months,” but also noted that he, “for the record, is not interested.”

Tom Hanks will publish a book of seventeen short stories, “each having something to do with a different typewriter.” The actor’s first collection, Uncommon Type: Some Stories, will be published by Knopf next October. 

Room author Emma Donoghue is writing a children’s book. The Lotterys Plus One follows a lottery-winning family and will be released in March.

The New York TimesT Magazine takes a look at Bernard-Henri Levy’s house, where he writes most of his books by hand. Levy says that besides his books, he has few precious possessions. The only object that merits note is a medal awarded to him by Alija Izetbegovic, president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 1993. “It’s the only medal I’ve ever accepted from a state government, including my own, probably because it’s given to so few people,” Levy said. “And because I thought I really deserved it.”

Tonight at the Brooklyn Public Library, Andy Tepper talks to Peter Kimani and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o about their latest books.