paper trail

The NYT's new social-media policy; Bill Clinton to present literary award

Hilton Als

Richard Wilbur—who won two Pulitzer Prizes and a National Book Award and served as the second US Poet Laureate—has died at age ninety-six. In 1957, the poet and critic Randall Jarrell wrote that Wilbur’s poem “A Baroque Wall-Fountain in the Villa Sciarra” was “one of the most marvelously beautiful, one of the most nearly perfect poems any American has written.”

The National Book Foundation has announced that Bill Clinton will be one of the presenters at the National Book Awards ceremony on November 15.

The October 1 vote on Catalonian independence has reportedly led to a dip in book sales in Spain, and publishers, particularly those in Barcelona, are contemplating what they will do if the region does in fact secede.

What inspires Hilton Als, the New Yorker critic and the author of White Girls? Deadlines, for one thing. “I always have a deadline that I have to honor in some way, and that helps me,” he tells the Creative Independent. “It not only grounds me, but it also frees the imagination in a certain way because you have to be creative in a certain limited amount of time.”

Publishers Weekly has profiled Becky Saletan, vice president and editorial director of Riverhead Books, who has worked with a number of authors who are up for awards, including Mohsin Hamid (who is shortlisted for the Booker Prize) and Masha Gessen (a nominee for the National Book Award). She is also working with a number of celebrated debut authors, such as Lesley Nneka Arimah, author of the story collection What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, which was nominated for the National Book Foundation’s 5 under 35 award. Of Arimah, Saletan notes: “Her stories are unusually structured. That’s the kind of thing that gets me excited as an editor. Is somebody doing something unexpected on the page? I’m bored as a reader if a book just seems to be telling me something I already know. I am a sucker for a beautiful sentence, but I really get excited when I feel like a book is taking me someplace I haven’t been before, if I can’t see around the corners and know what is coming next.”

The New York Times has posted a memo to its staff, which lays out new guidelines and a “tougher policy” regarding how reporters use social media. The main point is that reporters need to maintain their objectivity, despite the current political moment. “In social media posts, our journalists must not express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments or do anything else that undercuts The Times’s journalistic reputation.”