“Three years since the Man Booker began allowing any author writing in English and published in the UK to enter, 99% of Folio Academy members who responded to the question have said that the Booker should change its rules again, with most responses citing the new ubiquity of US authors in the prize’s longlists.”
The American author is this year’s winner of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, funded by the Swedish government in honor of the author of the Pippi Longstocking books. “Woodson made her children’s debut in 1990 with Last Summer with Maizon, first in a trilogy exploring the friendship of two girls. Her 2014 memoir-in-verse, Brown Girl Dreaming, received the National Book Award.”
“The list of prominent authors mired in harassment scandals has grown in recent months, and now includes best-selling children’s book authors, prominent political journalists and a National Book Award-winning novelist. As allegations of sexual harassment sweep through the publishing industry – resulting in canceled book deals, boycotts by bookstores and expulsions from writers’ conferences – publishers, agents and editors are grappling with how to tackle the issue … as they cut ties with accused men in hopes of minimizing any collateral damage.”
“Written in the Jane Eyre author’s own hand, the 77-line poem and a 74-line story were found in the leaves of a book belonging to her mother and sold to [The Brontë Society] in 2015.”
“After all, you can wear professional-looking clothes and behave in a way appropriate to your job, but as soon as you open your mouth, your accent betrays your upbringing. As the linguist Chi Luu explained …, research shows that we are quickly judged based on how we speak.” (Especially in Britain.)
The biggest disparity was seen at Hachette UK, where the median gender pay gap was 24.71%, and the mean gender pay gap was 29.69%. Hachette attributed the imbalance to issues including the higher number of men in senior roles; the higher proportion of women in lower pay brackets; and the higher number of women working flexibly and part time.
The book, published in 2016 by an Indian publishing house, contained biographies of 11 “amazing leaders.” “According to Pegasus’s description of the book, which also featured Napoleon Bonaparte, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi and Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, ‘some are famous, others little known, but all of them energise their followers and try to make the world better.’ Hitler was also included on the book’s cover.”
Yvan Alagbé: “What I’m interested in is work that renders visible what has previously been invisible. …But you need to look long and hard before that can happen.”
Hahahahhahahaahah (despairing laughter): no. “I cling to these happy memories whenever somebody breaks the copy machine for the fourth time that day by jamming a ballpoint pen inside the feed tray. Or spills their kale smoothie down the side of the circulation desk. Or when a person decides to eat an extra large pizza while vaping in the women’s bathroom. I think: remember why you chose this job? The elegance? And I laugh.”
Maybe, but not this way: “Increasingly, English departments are assigning intro Creative Writing courses to grad students, who receive minimal training and may be required to use a standard syllabus. The standard syllabi are designed to be simple, so that anybody can be plugged in to the class at the last minute and run it smoothly. They’re designed by a well-intentioned person in the department who needs to endure several rounds of approvals from higher-ranking faculty, at least some of whom don’t believe Creative Writing is a serious academic pursuit. A system like this is bound to produce stale, myopic syllabi that offer as limited a view of what it means to be a writer as possible.”
Wow: “In her mother, Louisa saw a powerful figure, capable of acting independently of a man, indeed standing in a man’s position by way of supporting the household, and, at critical points when Louisa’s voice might have been silenced by cultural mores and values, … Abba gave Louisa the unwavering encouragement to follow her inclinations and talent.”
Euro Disney comics, that is, which are multitudinous and a little weird for those used to U.S. Disney style and storyline. For instance, “the 200-page volume features a story about Mickey battling against a poison rainstorm.”
“How can you be a dictator without your sacred text, without a document to show your word is law?” From Lenin’s dense treatises and Hitler’s notorious memoir, through Mao’s “little red book” of aphorisms and Kim Jong-Il’s critical treatises on cinema and opera, to Türkmenbashi’s faux-folklore and Saddam Hussein’s romance novels, they just can’t stop themselves from churning out books. Colin Dickey examines the what and why.
“Librarianship asks you to do 12 things at once and then when you’re in the middle of those projects wonders if you’ve got any tax forms left or an eclipse viewer. It’s endless questions. It’s ‘my two dollar fine pays your salary.’ It’s a grubby little hand at storytime grabbing your leg and smearing glitter glue down the side of pants you’ve already worn twice that week. It’s finding the right answer to a question and reveling in that small joy for a bare moment before another patron comes up to ask you something even weirder.”
“The popular website was launched by JK Rowling in 2012 after the final Harry Potter film was released and was originally conceived as a way for the British writer to maintain and grow the online Potter fandom. According to a well-placed source, Pottermore sacked a string of editorial staff over the last few days, including both senior and junior staff who were making original content for the website.”
A field of advice columns that lob texts at people’s troubles has flowered recently, from the Times’ “Match Book” to Lit Hub’s “Dear Book Therapist” to the Paris Review Daily’s “Poetry Rx.” The series run the gamut from straightforward recommendation engines (ask for a thriller, receive a thriller) to columns that see books not as frigates or loaded gunsbut as medicine, selected from the canon’s well-lit pharmacy by a critic in a smock.
Hope Not Hate, Britain’s largest anti-racism organization, undertook an investigation and campaign calling attention to racist and anti-Semitic tracts, Holocaust denial books, bomb-making manuals and the like that are for sale on the websites of Waterstones, Foyles, and WH Smith (as well as Amazon). So the booksellers have begun removing those items from their sites.
“Called De Letters van Utrecht, the ‘social sculpture’ is constantly evolving and continues to expand every Saturday afternoon when one of 22 stone carvers from a local guild chisels a single letter into the stone. As the weeks, months, and years pass by, the poem evolves, continuing indefinitely so long as the city and community members support it.”
Social media platforms make the sharing of information ubiquitous and nonstop, but where will that information come from in the first place when all the reporters have been let go? What will happen when the newspaper model — what the government-commissioned report published by Public Policy Forum called “the model of journalistic ‘boots on the ground’ backed up by a second platoon in the office upholding such hallowed standards as verification and balance” — no longer generates that content at all?
Linguist John McWhorter gives a rundown of what we know about how Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and their fellow spoke. (podcast)
“As libraries create access to a digital future, the books that have traditionally inhabited them are being displaced at an alarming rate. This leaves many asking: Does acceptance of digital resources mean that the books must go? And what is at stake when artists, art historians, students, and the public can no longer engage in the act of browsing the stacks as part of the process of creating and researching art?”
“Kicking against what they consider outdated censorship, a booksellers’ association has reacted to the seizure of the non-fiction book Fariña by launching a website [which] includes a digital tool that searches for and locates the 80,000 words that make up the forbidden manuscript from within the text of Don Quixote, extracting them one by one to recompose the banned book. On Friday after two days online, the website had racked up over 30,000 hits, according to the Booksellers Guild of Madrid.”
On Sunday night John Oliver announced on HBO’s Last Week Tonight that A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, a children’s book about a gay bunny, named after a pet rabbit owned by the family of Vice President Mike Pence, would be available immediately. That meant it beat a rival children’s book, Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President, written by Pence’s daughter Charlotte, and illustrated by his wife, Karen, by mere hours to the digital shelves.
America’s (and Twitter’s) favorite dictionary defines dumpster fire as “an utterly calamitous or mismanaged situation or occurrence.” Abby Ohlheiser investigates the history of the term and its spread via (of course) social media and into the mainstream.
“Joan Silber took the fiction prize for her novel Improvement. … The nonfiction prize went to Frances FitzGerald for her book The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America, a sweeping history of the Evangelical movement from the Puritan era to the 2016 presidential election. Layli Long Soldier won the poetry prize for her acclaimed collection Whereas. The autobiography prize went to Xiaolu Guo for her book Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China. The prize in criticism went to Carina Chocano for her essay collection You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages. The prize in biography went to Caroline Fraser for her book Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder.”
Emily Wilson’s presence on Twitter is quietly revolutionary, a new kind of experience for readers, poets, translators, and really anyone who likes to watch knowledge take shape in an open format, its seams exposed. Like-minded people sharing their obsessions were the soil in which the larger Internet once grew; those transactions, commercialized and monetized, remade the world, with infinite ramifications downstream, some miraculous, some horrible. But the process of writing—what my kids, when they used to see me at my computer, called “choosing words”—has been mostly non-transactional, contained within the silos of individual imaginations or small communities, like M.F.A. workshops.
After the Second World War, alienation came to betoken a near-universal spiritual and psychological malaise. Existentialist philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre used it to describe a fundamental aspect of the human condition. Novelists such as Albert Camus, the author of The Stranger (1942), demonstrated its effects in the indifferent numbness of casual violence. By the time J D Salinger released his novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951), a chronicle of adolescent estrangement featuring the anti-hero Holden Caulfield, alienation was invoked to explain everything from juvenile delinquency and galloping divorce rates to voter apathy and substance abuse. The term was taken to define the fundamental pathology of modern life.
And – perhaps ironically! – the book is titled after a viral blog post from 2014 by author Reni Eddo-Lodge: “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race.” The prize is for, in Britain’s terms, a BAME writer – Black, Asian, or minority ethnic. The judges said it was “a thunderclap of a book” and that it “unflinchingly confronts a country where racism is – by all indicators – at an all-time high, but there are no identifiable racists.”
Ask David Foster Wallace – or Leslie Jamison: “I’d been afraid that meetings were basically lobotomies served alongside coffee-flavored water and Chips Ahoy!; afraid that even if sobriety could offer stability and sincerity and maybe even salvation, it could never be a story. But Infinite Jest knew better. It wasn’t that the novel’s brilliance survived the deadening force of sobriety. Its brilliance depended on what sobriety had wrought.”
Sharmaine Lovegrove, the woman who opened the first English-language bookstore in Berlin when she couldn’t get any hold in London, returned to Britain 20 years later – only to be met with a depressing reality. “It felt like we had gone backwards. The publishing industry has utterly failed to tell the stories of people across society, having told talented, diverse writers for decades that there was no space for them, and expecting a largely white, predominantly middle-class staff to be pardoned for not ‘being woke enough’ because of their ‘privilege,’ which only now seems to embarrass them.” So, of course, she’s doing something about it.