paper trail

Toni Morrison's National Book Critics Circle award speech

Rita Dove

John Cook, Gawker Media’s executive editor for investigations, says that his company will be filing a suit against the State Department, based on a Freedom of Information Act request that has gone unheeded. In 2012, the website requested emails sent between Hillary Clinton spokesperson Philippe Reines and thirty-four news organizations. So far, Gawker has received nothing. Meanwhile, the Associated Press is suing the State Department for another ignored FoIA request.

Roberto Bolano’s 2666 is being adapted for the stage.

The National Book Critics Circle, which announced the winners of its 2014 awards on Thursday, has posted a video of its awards ceremony, which honored Claudia Rankine, Roz Chast, Ellen Willis, and John Lahr, among others, and featured speeches by poet Rita Dove and novelist Toni Morrison, who won the NBCC’s Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. The NBCC website has also printed a transcript of the speech given by Alexandra Schwartz, who won the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, who remembers writing her first review (for John Leonard) and considers the qualities of a good reviewer.

Gaby Wood talks with Samantha Harvey, and ponders “why great novels don’t get noticed now.” Harvey’s Dear Thief was published last year to great reviews, but has sold only about 1,000 copies, and remains relatively hard to find. “What happened?” Wood asks. “The story of Dear Thief is the story of how our best fiction can get lost, and how hard it is for readers to find the books they’ll love.”

Karen Dawisha, an American academic who specializes in Russian affairs, is the author of the 2014 study Putin’s Kleptocracy. It was published in the US by Simon and Schuster. In the UK, however, publishers have been wary of the book, fearing that the book’s critical portrayal of Putin (Dawisha argues, among other things, that Putin has been involved in espionage) will put them in legal danger. Judges of the UK’s Pushkin Prize, which honors books about Russia, have expressed their concerns about the book’s failure to find a publisher in the country. And Dawisha states: “I felt that their very rejection sounded an alarm bell about one of the Kremlin’s real powers—the power to cow western institutions into submission. The Kremlin and its supporters use the courts to scare off researchers who want to expose the corruption at the core of this regime. I know of several manuscripts that have been suppressed in this way.”