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The Most Scathing Book Reviews of the Year

Parul Sehgal. Photo: David Surowiecki

Journalist and novelist Ward Just has died. After covering conflict in the Dominican Republic for Time and the Vietnam War for the Washington Post, Just went on to write numerous works of nonfiction and fiction, including To What End? Report From Vietnam (1968), Echo House (1997), and An Unfinished Season (2005), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

“The memoir oozes bitterness from the still weeping wounds of a man who feels betrayed,” Andrew Rawnsley writes of David Cameron’s For the Record. “This is a dull, needy book,” Parul Sehgal says of Kristen Roupenian’s You Know You Want This. Book Marks has assembled a list of the most scathing book reviews of 2019.

Vintage Books has released the cover design for Porochista Khakpour’s book Brown Album: Essays on Exile and Identity, which will be published in May.

Pearson has sold its remaining stake in Penguin Books to the German media company Bertelsmann for £530 million, saying that it plans to focus entirely on education and textbooks.

Publishers Weekly has named Dav Pilkey, best known for his Captain Underpants series, as its Person of the Year. Says the magazine: “Over the course of a wildly creative career, Dav Pilkey has written and drawn more than 60 books that have thrilled millions of children with goofy, gross-out humor and genuine empathy. He has a distinct talent for connecting with his readers and their parents. Led by Pilkey, Scholastic’s Graphix list has helped to transform the graphic novel format into one of the fastest growing categories in trade book publishing. And with sales of his Dog Man series skyrocketing in 2019, Pilkey is doing more to excite kids about reading than any author since J. K. Rowling.”

Poynter names Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s She Said the book of the year, and calls former Times executive editor Jill Abramson’s Merchants of Truth the “most disappointing.”

Beginning in 2020, the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, which was founded by Barbara Ehrenreich in 2012, will award grants to a number of authors working on books about economic insecurity. The first grant will be awarded to photojournalist Joseph Rodriguez for his book Taxi: Journey Through My Windows, 1977–1987, which will be released by PowerHouse in summer 2020.