According to the MobyLives blog, NPR has one rule about authors, which is known as the "dibs system": "No one can appear on more than one NPR show. Ever." Unless, that is, you're Michele Norris, author of The Grace of Silence, a new memoir about her family's racial history (and myths). Since that book appeared in stores, Morris has appeared on four different NPR shows, which might or might not have something to do with the fact that she is a co-host of NPR's All Things Considered. The coverage has been controversial enough that Alicia Shepard, NPR's ombudsman, has issued a report explaining the network's first-ever "fourfecta." In any case, publishers are probably annoyed because NPR is such eagerly sought coverage: It's well-known among book publicists that an author appearance on one of the network's shows usually results in more sales than most print reviews can deliver.
Amazon's new iPhone app allows you to scan book barcodes—when you're, say, in a bookstore—and to buy the book (for a discount) from Amazon immediately (before you've left the bookstore). But just when you marvel at how much technology is changing the publishing business, PW wonders if iBooks is a failure.
Salon's Laura Miller gives an award to the book awards: The Booker Prize, she says, is the best.
“If the intensity of the Roth of old, the ‘major’ Roth, has died down, has anything new come in its place?” J.M. Coetzee covers Philip Roth’s latest novel, Nemesis, for the New York Review of Books. (An issue highlight: Geoffrey O'Brien's review of Duke Ellington's America.)
In the excellent new edition of FSG's Work in Progress, President Obama reflects on Nelson Mandela, Edith Grossman and Natasha Wimmer (who are known for their English versions of Don Quixote and Roberto Bolano, respectively) talk about translating Nobel Prize Winner Mario Vargas Llosa, and Richard Howard and Marion Duvert discuss Roland Barthes.
Bookforum and London Review of Books contributor Alex Abramovich edited the Very Short List back when it was owned by InterActiveCorp (and did an excellent job), but was let go when Barry Diller sold the site to the New York Observer in June 2009. Now, more than a year later, it seems that the VSL just can't quit Abramovich: the NYO has just hired the writer to edit the website once again.
The rumors that Stieg "Dragon Tatoo" Larsson wrote a fourth novel are apparently true. His family has "confirmed the existence of another manuscript."
The National Book Award finalists have been announced, and the most interesting aspect of the list is what it doesn't include (if you need a hint, we're referring to an author whose initials are J.F.). There are, as always, some good choices, including Nicole Krauss's Great House and Patti Smith's Just Kids. The selection that we're most excited about is Monica Youn's Ignatz, a poetry collection that considers passion through the lens of the classic comic strip Krazy Kat.
Making a plot cohere, researching ant colonies, finding time for family and friends, paying the bills—being a novelist is hard work. The Awl inaugurates Publishing School, its promising new column about writing, with four testimonials from novelists-in-progress.
The independent press Two Dollar Radio is about to start giving away two chapters of Xiaoda Xiao’s memoir-in-stories, The Visiting Suit: Stories from My Prison Life, in Chinese. "By making Xiao’s work downloadable for free in Chinese, his tale will be made available to members of the population still affected by the extreme policies and daily hardships that Xiao describes who are only receiving and exposed to heavily censored news and stories." For those who don't speak Chinese, the book will be available in English later this month.
Surprise 2010 Man Booker Prize-winner Howard Jacobson on comic novels: "Comedy breaks every trance—that's its function. Comedy is nothing if not critical. From the very beginning the comic novel set out to argue with everything and to set us arguing with one another."
A profile of Ethiopian author Dinaw Mengestu and his highly anticipated second novel, How to Read the Air, which will be published this week.
Future sociologists will undoubtedly ask of our era: "What was the Hipster?" Luckily, n+1 is tackling the query on multiple fronts, with a new book and two panel discussion: one last year in New York, and one on Monday at UCLA. In LA, Gavin McInnes delivered his remarks sans shirt, and was aggravated by fellow panelist Tao Lin, who mumbled many of his answers. (McInnes: "I can't tell what you're saying!" Lin: "That's my trademark.") Emily Gould seemed less flummoxed by an aloof Lin during his recent appearance on Gould's literary chat and cooking show, "Cooking the Books," but watching the pair make small talk and a salad still makes us squirm.
Tonight at Bluestockings Books journalist Rebecca Traister will read from her feminist chronicle of the 2008 presidential election, Big Girls Don't Cry. In a recent interview, Traister says of Hillary Clinton: "I thought her continuing to fight was awesome and hilarious. I thought it was completely redefining how we view women and our expectations for them in public and political life."
Lee Rourke and Matthew Hooton share The Guardian's Not The Booker prize.
Howard Jacobson has won the 2010 Man Booker Prize for his novel The Finkler Question. In 2007, Gideon Lewis-Kraus wrote in Bookforum: "Jacobson is funnier, sentence for sentence, than early Roth and Joseph Heller put together. All comparisons aside, however, the simple point is that Jacobson deserves to be read, and read widely, on his own terms."
Salman Rushdie is writing a memoir about the years he spent in hiding beginning in 1989, when the Ayatollah Khomeini decreed that Rushdie should be killed for the "blasphemy" in his novel The Satanic Verses. Rushdie says of the memoir, "So far I feel that I'm right—I'm not getting churned up and upset, I'm just writing it and I'm feeling quite pleased."
UbuWeb, the great online archive of avant-garde poetry, film, music, and performance has been hacked and is closed "until further notice."
Now that Hugo Lindgren has been named the editor of the New York Times Magazine, what should he do with it? First item on the agenda: Hiring his former colleague from New York magazine, Lauren Kern, to be the Magazine's deputy editor.
A copy of Professor Marcus Boon's new book, In Praise of Copying, is available as a free download under the Creative Commons License. Boon writes, "this isn’t especially intended as a utopian gesture towards a world in which everything is free. It’s recognition of the way in which copies of texts circulate today, a circulation in which the physical object known as the book that is for sale in the marketplace has an important but hardly exclusive role."
Tom McCarthy: odds-on favorite for the Man Booker prize.
Imprisoned 2010 Nobel Peace Prize-winning author Liu Xiaobo has been unable to talk to journalists since the award was announced on Friday, and his wife, Liu Xia, is now under house arrest. During a short visit, Liu told his wife that he was dedicating the prize to victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Chinese authorities have called the Nobel a "blasphemy," imposed a blackout on news of the prize, and broken up a banquet celebrating the victory.
Today is the last day to vote for The Guardian's Not The Booker prize. Meanwhile, the Man Booker prize will be announced tomorrow, and odds-makers are predicting that Tom McCarthy's novel C will win, with one major British betting agency, Ladbrokes, calling off bets on McCarthy's book after a surge of money was placed on the novel last week.
Don Delillo reads a CIA memo outlining the agency's detention, interrogation, and rendition procedures. Delillo, a writer long obsessed with secrets and state power, delivers the memo in an unsettling deadpan, leaving the Delilloesque word redacted ringing in your ears.
A modest proposal: Revive the publishing industry by pulping books.
The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to imprisoned Chinese author and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. The PEN American Center has been campaigning for Xiaobo to win the prize (and for his release); last December, authors E. L. Doctorow, Don DeLillo, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Edward Albee, A.M. Homes, and Honor Moore gathered on the New York Public Library's steps to rally on his behalf.
More on 2010 Nobel Prize in literature winner Mario Vargas Llosa: the author's first press conference after winning the Nobel; Granta editor John Freeman on why Vargas Llosa was a "phenomenal choice" for the prize; the London Review of Books' compilation of Vargas Llosa reviews; the Paris Review's 1990 interview with the Peruvian author; and from The Guardian, a list of five of his essential novels, and a fanciful telling of why Vargas Llosa slugged Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
In the summer of 2009, authors Justin Taylor and Eva Talmadge asked for submissions on the blog HTML Giant for pictures of literary tattoos. They've collected about 150 of their favorites in a new book, The Word Made Flesh, and recently sat down with Poets & Writers to discuss the project. The book includes five pictures from Shelly Jackson's "Skin," a short story that's being published one tattoo at a time, each word inked onto volunteers from around the world.
This weekend, Comic Con invades New York City, with comic book conventions, events, and exhibitions throughout the metropolis.
Mario Vargas Llosa
Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa has won the Nobel Prize in literature, becoming the first South American writer to win the 1.5 million dollar prize since Gabriel Garcia Marquez won it in 1982. Perhaps the shared glory will end the longstanding feud between the two authors, which climaxed the day Vargas Llosa decked Garcia Marquez in a movie theater, leaving him with a black eye.
Tonight, NYU is hosting a memorial celebration for David Markson, the experimental novelist (and David Foster Wallace fave) who passed away this summer. Writers Ann Beattie, Art Spiegelman, Pete Hamill, and Chris Sorrentino (among others), as well as Markson's daughter, Johanna, will read from his work and tell stories of his life, and Kate Valk, a member of the art-theater troupe The Wooster Group, will read from Markson's 1988 novel Wittgenstein's Mistress.
Inspired by the New Yorker's "20 under 40" list of novelists, the New Haven Review has compiled a collection of some great young non-fiction authors, including Bookforum contributors such as Rachel Aviv, Joshua Cohen, and Gideon Lewis-Kraus.
At Publishing Perspectives, Chad W. Post reports on why Douglas Rushkoff, who will speak at the Frankfurt Book Fair, moved from Random House to the innovative start-up publisher OR Books: "With the traditional publishing system, there are too many middlemen, and too many people needing to justify their place in the food chain,” he says. “This ends up costing a lot of money, and ultimately costing a lot of time, too.”
Tonight, New York City's prose fetishists and fans of experimental fiction will likely be heading to a talk titled "On the Well-Tempered Sentence," featuring Gary Lutz, Ben Marcus, Christine Schutt, and John Haskell.
Although Lorin Stein has done an excellent job invigorating the Paris Review blog, he remains loyal to print. "There's no emotional connection between the reader and the computer screen," he tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The National Book Foundation has announced this year's "5 Under 35," a group of young authors selected by previous National Book Award finalists. The honorees include Tiphanie Yanique, author of How to Escape from a Leper Colony, and Grace Krilanovich, whose new novel is the hard-to-classify The Orange Eats Creeps.
Yesterday, it was widely reported that a thief stole Jonathan Franzen's glasses, grabbing the spectacles right off the author's face during a Monday-evening publication party for Freedom. The perp, who left a ransom note requesting $100,000, was allegedly chased by partygoers, police, and a helicopter, and gave up the specs shortly after the stunt. That's pretty exciting stuff for a book party, but don't take it too seriously: Our sources in London have told us to take the whole story with a "shovelful of salt."
This morning, on the day before the Frankfurt Book Fair, former Soft Skull editor Richard Nash announced the Spring 2011 list for Red Lemonade, the first imprint of his "insurgent publishing start-up" Cursor. It's an exciting list, which includes Someday This Will Be Funny, a new story collection by Bookforum contributor and American Genius: A Comedy author Lynne Tillman.
Elissa Bassist publishes the excellent notes she took during Lorrie Moore's witty conversation with New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman, in which she talked about humor, MFA programs, and her "ideal reader."
When the Nobel Prize for literature is announced on Thursday, the choice will probably be a "confounding one," says David L. Ulin at The Los Angeles Times.
Is anyone else bothered by the fact that Kathryn Harrison's New York Times review of the new edition of Madame Bovary says absolutely nothing insightful about the quality of Lydia Davis's translation? The author of The Kiss offers only four cliched sentences about Davis's new rendering, and here are two of them: "It is a shame Flaubert will never read Davis’s translation of Madame Bovary. Even he would have to agree his masterwork has been given the English translation it deserves." She does not mention any other translations, though there are many. Anyone looking for commentary on previous translators of Flaubert's classic can turn to Davis herself, who has written about her predecessors over at the Paris Review blog.
The latest from McSweeney's: Dave Eggers's animal renderings.