• Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C.
    June 11, 2010

    Jun 10, 2010 @ 11:59:00 pm

    The World Cup begins today in South Africa, and the New Republic has enlisted novelists, such as Aleksandar Hemon, authors like Tom Vanderbilt, as well as critics and TNR staff to detail all the action at their blog Goal Post. Of course there's more to life in South Africa than soccer, as novelist André Brink writes: "There's so much constantly to react to in the world in which we live, and in a country like South Africa, that can become a full-time occupation;" from Bookforum's pages, Jennifer Egan reviews Brink's 2008 novel Other Lives

    The Wall Street Journal investigates how digital

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  • Amin Maalouf
    June 10, 2010

    Jun 10, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Are books the LPs of the future? "Of course, the book has been around a lot longer and is far more deeply entrenched in our vision of culture—both what it is and what we want it to be—than the LP, which turned out to be a disposable format, a means to an end. Yet what the digital revolution in the music industry shows us, I think, is that what people want is music: the format doesn’t matter nearly as much as the product." Do people, then, want nothing outside the text? Actually, long-playing records may be the literal future of books. And just like the passing of LPs signaled the end

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  • Brenda Wineapple
    June 09, 2010

    Jun 9, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    The New Yorker has anointed its twenty young writers under forty who "capture the inventiveness and the vitality of contemporary American fiction," and Farrar, Straus & Giroux has announced it will publish a paperback anthology of the chosen ones. How were they chosen? What are the stories about? Tainted love, mostly. What's the upside? Choire Sicha offers Ten Affirmations. The takeaway? Forty is still young when it comes to writing fiction.

    Brenda Wineapple writes that American literature in the 19th century "speaks in the 21st in terms we have not yet abandoned for all our sophistication,

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  • June 08, 2010

    Jun 8, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    The iBookstore is coming to the iPhone, expanding the e-book market to the pocket-sized device. If you put stock in Steve Job's iBook sales numbers, that's very good news for publishing. Yesterday's announcement of the iPhone 4 was measured in comparison to the frenzied hype that welcomed the iPad, since many of the phone's features have been known for a while—thanks to the checkbook journalism of Gizmodo, which purloined an early iPhone 4 prototype and produced the definitive guide to the gizmo. 

    Literary mixes: New York magazine has asked authors to recommend books for the summer: "the

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  • David Markson
    June 07, 2010

    Jun 7, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    This is Not an Obituary: David Markson has died at age eighty-two. Markson, who began his career writing off-kilter genre fiction, kept the unconventional novel alive long after '60s-era critics and readers had retreated to tamer stuff. In books like Wittgenstein’s Mistress (1988), Reader’s Block (1996), and The Is Not a Novel (2001), Markson achieved the grail so many American avant-garde novelists had sought: crafting radical experiments in form that were utterly compelling to read. His conversations about craft were almost as enthralling as his literary output, and proved inspirational for

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  • Michael Silverblatt
    June 04, 2010

    Jun 4, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Shakespeare & Company, the bookstore whose lineage stretches back to Sylvia Beach's 1919 shop, which first published Ulysses, is starting a literary magazine and a prize.

    Twain saw being interviewed as torture, Hemingway found it akin to hand-to-hand combat, while Nabokov agreed only to be questioned via typewritten transcript (the better to polish his prose before it saw print). In Bookforum's pages, Albert Mobillio, introducing a section on interviewing the interviewers, wrote that interviews are a "high wire act for writers." Michael Silverblatt has been conversing with authors for twenty

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  • Maaza Mengiste. Photo by Miriam Berkley.
    June 03, 2010

    Jun 3, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    On Wednesday night, organizers of the Brooklyn Book Festival announced part of its 2010 line-up at a mingle that took place at stately Brooklyn Borough Hall. As publishing types mixed with writers such as Colson Whitehead, Chuck Klosterman, and others, Johnny Temple (the onetime Girls Against Boys bassist and editor of Akashic Books) introduced curators who named some of the writers confirmed for the fest. As always, it is a stellar bunch: Whitehead, Jonathan Lethem, Jennifer Egan, Mary Gaitskill, Joshua Clover, Rob Sheffield, Maaza Mengiste, Joyce Carol Oates, Dorothy Allison, Stephen Elliott

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  • Mark English's illustration for John Cheever's "The Geometry of Love."
    June 02, 2010

    Jun 2, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    From the archives of American angst: The Saturday Evening Post has digitized and posted the 1966 John Cheever story "The Geometry of Love." Though the story appears in Cheever's Collected Stories, it is edifying to see a story by "the suburban squire" presented in its original context—a vividly illustrated Post spread, with its eyebrow-raising tag line: "How convenient to reduce your marital difficulties to a mathematical formula! How convenient—and how dangerous!" Though the Post jumped at the chance to publish the story, it was only after the New Yorker passed on it, with New Yorker editor

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  • June 01, 2010

    Jun 1, 2010 @ 12:47:00 pm

    Peter Beinart continues to assail Israel's leadership and its American supporters in an article condemning yesterday's flotilla raid, which killed nine people and resulted in the arrest of more than six hundred activists (including Swedish writer Henning Mankell). Israel and American Zionism are topics conspicuously absent from Beinart's new book The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris (reviewed in Bookforum by Jim Sleeper), but Beinart has had a lot to say about them recently.

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  • Nay Phone Latt
    June 01, 2010

    Jun 1, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Blogging can be dangerous, at least according to Burmese authorities, who have imprisoned Nay Phone Latt for his posts; poets are still suspect, too—Saw Wei, who was locked up in Burma for writing a poem, has finally been released after more than two years in prison for "inducing crime against public tranquility" with his verse, which had “General Than Shwe is crazy with power” encoded within the poem.

    I got a scheme—for a magazine! The beginnings of what Philip Roth dubbed "an imaginative assault upon the American experience" are detailed in an excerpt from a new history of Commentary, showing

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  • BEA rolls out of town
    May 31, 2010

    May 31, 2010 @ 10:00:00 am

    As BEA wrapped up last week, Carolyn Kellogg observed that at an Expo aglow with iPads, it was "telling that the hot trend for fall books is dystopian fiction." Why is the dystopian novel experiencing a renaissance in Western literature after its absence for the past few decades? In an essay in Bookforum's summer issue, Keith Gessen tracks dystopia from Orwell and Huxley to Tumblr and Facebook (including a saga that peaked on the web platform Plurk), writing that the Internet has "brought into being one of the fears common to most dystopian novels and developed with some detail in 1984: that

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  • May 28, 2010

    May 28, 2010 @ 9:08:00 am

    The march of Penguin: the publisher has finally reached an agreement with Amazon to get their books on the Kindle. 

    As BEA ended yesterday, the Expo's director announced that it will go back to a three-day format next year. That's good news for international attendees, who find that two days just isn't enough time, and good news for those fed up with the crammed main aisles, though there was one place to get away from the jostling crowds—the eerily quiet Digital Book Zone. At New York magazine's Vulture blog, Boris Kachka detected a "dystopian mood of the attendees and the panels," but the

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