• Abdulrazak Gurnah. Photo: Mark Pringle.
    October 07, 2021

    Abdulrazak Gurnah wins the Nobel Prize in Literature; the “Bad Art Friend” takes takeover

    Novelist and professor Abdulrazak Gurnah has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Gurnah was born in Zanzibar and moved to the United Kingdom as a refugee when he was eighteen. He is the author of ten novels, including two that have been previously nominated for the Booker Prize. His latest book is Afterlives, published in 2020. Gurnah told Magill magazine in 2010: “I’m writing in one language, in English, and I’m bringing to it an imaginative landscape from another culture and another language and that produces, I think, a dynamic and rather interesting mix.”

    The Brooklyn Rail talks with Amauta

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  • Annie Ernaux. Photo: Seven Stories Press
    October 06, 2021

    Predictions for the Nobel Prize in Literature; the “Paris Review Podcast” will return this month

    The New Republic’s Alex Shephard offers his annual predictions for who will win the Nobel Prize in Literature (and who definitely will not). It’s no easy task, as the prize’s identity has, in recent years, “become unmoored amid oddball picks (Bob Dylan), conventional ones (Olga Tokarczuk), and the literary award equivalent of begging to get ratioed on Twitter (Peter Handke). With all the left turns and overcorrections, it’s not so obvious what the Nobel Prize in literature is celebrating.” Still, Annie Ernaux seems to be the favorite for this year’s award.

    Emily Stokes, editor of the Paris

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  • Talia Lavin. Photo: Yonit Lavin
    October 05, 2021

    National Book Award finalists announced; Talia Lavin’s new newsletter on the Far Right and sandwiches

    Talia Lavin, author of Culture Warlords, is starting a “tri-weekly” Substack newsletter, The Sword and the Sandwich, with editor David Swanson. The plan, as Lavin announced it: “I’ll be writing about the far right (and the anti-vaxx movement, and white nationalism). And sandwiches. Seriously, I’m going to go through Wikipedia’s List of Notable Sandwiches in alphabetical order and write about it.”

    The National Book Foundation has announced the twenty-five finalists for the National Book Awards, which awards winners in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, translation, poetry, and people’s

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  • Kevin Young. Photo: Melanie Dunea
    October 04, 2021

    Tonight: Colson Whitehead in conversation with Kevin Young

    The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has obtained and released more than 11 million private financial records that detail the ways the rich use opaque and secretive offshore systems and other loopholes to hide billions of dollars from tax authorities. Called the Pandora Papers, the ICIJ project has been shared with a number of news organizations, some of which are joining in the investigation. According to the Washington Post, “the Pandora Papers allow for the most comprehensive accounting to date of a parallel financial universe whose corrosive effects can span

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  • Katie Kitamura. Photo: Martha Reta
    October 01, 2021

    Join Bookforum on Sunday at the Brooklyn Book Festival; Katie Kitamura on fiction and fluidity

    At Bomb, Katie Kitamura discusses her novel Intimacies, circular sentences, and staying open to looseness: “I had the sense, after three books, that I might try sharing work earlier. If you only share work that is very finished, and very polished—which is how I’ve tended to work—then to some extent its problems have ossified, and the project as a whole is no longer very mobile. With this novel, I wanted to write something that felt, at least in process terms, a little more fluid.”

    A group of writers and translators have signed an open letter written by Jennifer Croft and Mark Haddon that calls

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  • Sam Sanders. Photo: Corey Seeholzer/NPR
    September 30, 2021

    Sam Sanders on “soft” news; Jonathan Franzen and the family novel

    For the New York Times, Isaac Fitzgerald talks with Jocelyn Nicole Johnson about her debut novel, My Monticello. Asked what advice she would give to writers who feel stuck, Johnson says, “You have to start somewhere. Find support. Find community. And start small.”

    For Vulture, Merve Emre talks with Jonathan Franzen about this new novel: “I had the wicked thought: People think I’m a family novelist. I’m not really a family novelist. But maybe, finally, I’ll write a book about a family. And to me, a family novel spans generations.” For more on Crossroads, see Frank Guan’s review in the new

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  • Hanif Abdurraqib. Photo: Megan Leigh Barnard
    September 29, 2021

    The 2021 MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipients; the Literary Arts Emergency Fund plans second round of assistance

    The 2021 MacArthur “Genius” Grants have been announced. Among the twenty-five awardees are writers Hanif Abdurraqib, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Nicole R. Fleetwood, and Don Mee Choi. LitHub asked some of the literary awardees to share writing advice they have found helpful in their work. Poet Don Mee Choi said, “‘You can’t be afraid.’ This is basically what I tell myself all the time.”

    The New York Times Book Review takes stock of classic works of literature that were panned in the paper’s pages when the books were first published. Among the unfortunates were Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out,

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  • Harsha Walia 
    September 28, 2021

    Harsha Walia talks about borders, migration, and nationalism tonight; Omari Weekes on “Mutiny” by Phillip B. Williams

    Honorée Fanonne Jeffers announced on Twitter that she is writing a biography of poet Lucille Clifton. The book will be published in 2026 by Knopf.

    For The Drift, Sophie Haigney surveys children’s books written by or about political figures: Kamala Harris, Barack Obama, Condoleezza Rice, Callista Gingrich, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush, among many others, have all offered their thoughts on life and leadership to kids. These ideas are not subtle, as Haigney notes, “It seems many of us can no longer imagine that children can handle, and may in fact prefer, stories defined by

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  • Cathy Park Hong
    September 27, 2021

    The Brooklyn Book Festival’s week of events

    The Brooklyn Book Festival will take place this Sunday, and this week it is hosting a number of live and virtual “Bookend” events, which will feature authors Yiyun Li, Brandon Taylor, Cathy Park Hong, Maggie Nelson, Tahir Hamut Izgil, Sarah Schulman, Hanif Abdurraqib, Colson Whitehead, Silvia Federici, and many others.

    On the latest episode of the New Yorker Radio Hour, Parul Sehgal, who has just joined the magazine, talks about literature that describes trauma and atrocity. She discusses books she teaches in a class called “Writing the Unspeakable,” including Svetlana Alexievich’s The Unwomanly

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  • Edward Said, 1983. Photo: Jean Mohr
    September 24, 2021

    Congress grills Big Five publishers on e-book prices for libraries; A Brooklyn Institute for Social Research class on Edward Said

    Following Daniel A. Gross’s story for the New Yorker and a Library Futures campaign effort, two members of Congress are requesting transparency from Big Five publishers regarding the prices they charge libraries for e-books. As Gross reported, the way e-books are licensed with expiration dates, like a lease, makes them much more expensive for libraries to provide than physical books. “E-books play a critical role in ensuring that libraries can fulfill their mission of providing broad and equitable access to information for all Americans, and it is imperative that libraries can continue their

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  • Gregg Bordowitz. Photo: Justin Bettman.
    September 23, 2021

    Gregg Bordowitz discusses his new book with Fred Moten; The rise of the book blob

    For Print magazine, R. E. Hawley writes about the new trend in book-cover designs: the blob. Hawley writes that the blob comes from big publishers playing it safe as they need bigger hits and have smaller budgets. The covers are meant to appeal to the Amazon algorithm, as past successful covers inspire similar designs. Hawley observes, “What gets lost in the pivot toward safe, reliably marketable design in literary fiction is in many ways the same thing we risk losing to Amazon’s algorithmically-driven vision of readership—the thrill of encountering the unexpected.”

    For The Drift, a selection

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  • Alexander Chee. Photo: M. Sharkey
    September 22, 2021

    Alexander Chee on the critical reception of E. M. Forster’s “Maurice”; Maria Tatar’s study of literary heroines

    For the New Republic, Alexander Chee writes about the critical reception of E. M. Forster’s Maurice and a new book, Alec, by William di Canzio, that reimagines Forster’s novel from the perspective of his protagonist’s lover. But as Chee clarifies, “it is small to say di Canzio only sought to offer us a view of Maurice and Alec through Alec’s eyes.” The new novel “reunites Maurice with parts of Forster’s biography both close to Forster’s heart and missing from his fiction, even from Maurice—the courses he taught to working-class men after he finished up at King’s College as a student; the three

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