Heidi Julavits

In Istanbul, Orhan Pamuk has opened a museum that mirrors his 2008 novel The Museum of Innocence.

The University of Southern California has gotten a $40,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to develop a video game based on Henry David Thoreau’s writings about Walden Pond. In the game, “the player will inhabit an open, three-dimensional game world which will simulate the geography and environment of Walden Woods.”

At last week’s London Book Fair, when writers and agents weren’t discussing the fallout from the Justice Department’s charges against e-book publishers, they were signing books deals. According to Publishers Weekly, William T. Vollmann and Erik Larson both sold new books, agent Carmen Balcells sold the Chinese rights to Gabriel García Márquez’s 100 Years of Solitude for a million dollars, and OKCupid founder Christian Rudder signed a book deal with Crown to write a nonfiction book called Dataclysm about “how data is transforming our lives.”

The publication of Bring Up the Bodies, Hillary Mantel’s much-anticipated sequel to her Tudor-era Wolf Hall, raises the question—do you need to read the first book before picking up the sequel?

Heidi Julavits discusses the editorial evolution of The Believer from a print-only magazine oriented towards 4,000-plus word pieces to a publication that can compete in the online economy of literary blogs and divided attention.

“Books will be smoother, faster, and slicker, and will be strongly influenced by space travel.” Thus spake bookseller Robert Berg to the Seattle Times in April 1962 when asked what the book industry would look like in the 21st Century.

The last time the New Yorker came close to changing its eccentric stance on diaeresis (not be confused with an umlaut) was 1978. Copy editor Mary Norris explains why.

McSweeney's offers some tips on how to write better.


A still from Life of Pi

In 2010, Brent Easton Ellis got into trouble for celebrating J.D. Salinger’s death in a tweet. He apologized, but two years on, Alexander Nazaryan argues that Ellis hasn’t gotten any better: “Reading the 538th tweet about how he is going to get stoned and watch The Lorax, you want to fly to Los Angeles, grab the guy by his shoulders and scream at him, ‘STOP TWEETING AND ACTUALLY WRITE SOMETHING.’"

Writer and sometimes Harper' columnist Larry McMurty has announced plans to downsize his Archer City, Texas, bookstore, Booked Up, by 350,000 volumes this August. To drive home the point that they’re not going out of business, the store’s website notes that Booked Up will continue to carry around 150,000 books.

Of the one hundred best-selling Kindle e-books this week, only fifteen were nonfiction.

Between recent books by Rajesh Parameswaran, Téa Obreht, Aravind Adiga and Yann Martel, The Millions claims that Tiger Lit has never been more popular... (Speaking of tigers, here’s the first still released from Ang Lee’s forthcoming adaptation of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, which stars a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.)

Eight years after n+1’s launch, editor Mark Greif reflects on the state of small magazines and their recent proliferation in the wake of Occupy Wall Street. After coming out of a tradition that produced the New Partisan and The Baffler, Greif says he now “care[s] about the New Inquiry, Triple Canopy, and Jacobin in New York, the Point in Chicago, the Los Angeles Review of Books on the west coast.”

Jon Cotner, coauthor of Ten Walks/Two Talks, will give his latest walking tour this Sunday in Central Park, where he will discuss the design philosophy of Frederick Law Olmstead and ponder the meaning of recreation.

HarperCollins is planning to release fifteen Milan Kundera audiobooks, including The Joke, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Book of Laughter, and Slowness.


Herta Muller

Macmillan sci-fi imprint Tor/Forge announced this week that all of its e-books will be DRM-free by July, making it the first major publishing house to drop the digital restriction. In effect, this means that any Tor e-book bought on a Kindle will now be readable on an iPad or Sony e-reader or Nook—thus loosening Amazon’s control over the e-books it sells, which are currently only accessible through a Kindle.

At Salon, Jason Farago argues that novels written by straight authors about gay characters, like Herta Muller’s The Hunger Angel, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, and Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding, is a sign that “homosexuality may no longer be the taboo it once was, for writers—and for readers.”

Congratulations to Bookforum contributor Jacob Silverman for winning Jeopardy last night. He's on again tonight, and we hope he keeps it up...

At Htmlgiant, Lily Hoang asks writers if they’re friends with other writers whose work they don’t respect.

At his new blog “The Audacity of Despair,” The Wire creator and author David Simon explains why he’s “ambivalent” about posting his writings on his website: “Anything that says content should be free makes it hard for all writers, everywhere... A free internet is wonderful for democratized, unresearched commentary, and it works well as a library of sorts for content that no longer needs a defense of its copyright. But journalism, literature, film, music—these endeavors need people operating at the highest professional level and they need to make a living doing what they do.”

A Bronx cottage where Edgar Allen Poe lived for years will be awarded this week at the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards, known as the “Preservation Oscars.” The house, which Poe owned until his death in 1849, was built in 1812 and is now owned by the Bronx Historical Society.

Here is an in-depth history of Melville House’s “Art of the Novella” series, and of novellas in general in the age of #longform.


Lena Dunham

With Melville House books lining the walls of the fictional independent publisher in Lena Dunham’s show Girls, viewers could be forgiven for thinking that Dunham’s character was meant to be interning at the Brooklyn-based house (we did). But that’s not the case, says the Los Angeles Times. In 2006, at the recommendation of Lynne Tillman, Dunham interned at Soft Skull books under then-editor Richard Nash. "Oberlin kids were always smart and industrious," Nash said, referring to his former intern. "My bestselling authors were from Oberlin: David Rees, Matt Sharp... You basically said yes to Oberlin students when they wanted to intern." And as for the Melville House books, the publisher wouldn’t let them film in the office, so HBO rented their books to fill on-set shelves.

The Jana Partners hedge fund has purchased 6.59 million shares of Barnes & Noble, giving them an 11.6 percent stake in the company. As Publishers Weekly points out, Jana is a company "known for taking an activist role in companies in which it invests."

Hitler’s Mein Kampf hasn’t been published in Germany since the end of WWII, but that is expected to change when the book’s copyright expires in 2015. So to limit the potential damage that the book might cause when it returns to print, the German state of Bavaria—which owns the copyright to Mein Kampf—announced plans to publish an annotated version of the book that lays out "the global catastrophe that this dangerous way of thinking led to." According to Bavarian officials, an annotated English edition is also in the works—and an audiobook.

Joshua Cohen has won a Pushcart Prize for his short story “Emissions,” which was originally published in The Paris Review last summer, and will appear in his collection of novellas, Four New Messages, to be published by Graywolf Press in August. The story is available to read here. Hnd here is Adam Wilson’s review of Cohen’s novel A Heaven of Others. The Los Angeles Review of Books was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes—one for David Shields’s essay “Life is Short; Art is Shorter,” and another for Antoine Wilson’s “Notes on Hack.”

The Asian American Literary Review considers charge that Tao Lin is a “‘human meme,’ a walking, typing gimmick who routinely and unjustly captures milliseconds of the cultural hivemind’s time through his not-all-that-clever stunts.”


Alex Shakar

Last week, The New Yorker’s Ben Greenman, author of the novel Please Step Back, invited his Twitter followers to name the word they would most prefer to see permanently stricken from the English language. After weeding out the political picks (“Obama” and “war” were on many lists), Greenman found that there was an undisputed winner. “In the end, there was a runaway un-favorite: ‘moist.’ People, particularly women, evidently prefer aridity.” Still, "slacks" was the winner.

Hundreds of booksellers across the country gave away half a million copies of thirty pre-selected titles last night in honor of Free Book Night. Titles included Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, and Dave Eggers’s Zeitoun.

The future of Barnes & Noble may be in the hands of an “activist” hedge fund. Company stock jumped more than ten percent on Monday after Jana Partners revealed that it had bought more than twelve percent stake in the company. According to CNNMoney, Jana is known for “taking stakes in companies and then pushing for action,” and “could add pressure on Barnes & Noble to sell or spin off its Nook e-reader business.”

Alex Shakar’s second novel, Luminarium, beat out Julie Otsuka's The Buddha in the Attic and Edith Pearlman's Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories to win this year’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books fiction award. In a review in our Fall 2011 issue, Justin Taylor noted that “Luminarium is one of those books that is not shy about being about what it’s about, and it’s about plenty: technology, faith, families, war, media, illness, New York, second chances, the aftermath of tragedy, and how grief shapes or even becomes the survivor’s life.”

On the Media’s annual episode on the publishing industry covers all the year’s hot-button issues, including the “fears of Amazon becoming a monopoly and the little publishing house standing up to it, a Pulitzer snub for fiction, and the problem of knock-off books.”

Literary tourism began with Faulkner-inspired pilgrimages to Mississippi, but as of late, tourism officials have expanded their horizons. In addition to Twilight-themed tours of the Pacific Northwest, Reuters reports, there are now outfits that allow participants to immerse themselves in The Hunger Games’ post-apocalytic world: “Fans ... will soon have a chance to channel the survivalist spirit of the novel's heroine by zip-lining through a North Carolina forest and taking classes in camouflage, archery, making fire, and shelter-building.”


Amelia Gray and Etgar Keret at the Los Angeles Times Festival of the Book

The New York state education commission scrapped a question on their middle school standardized English exam last week after widespread complaints that the question—a fable about a talking pineapple that challenged a hare to a race—made no sense. This week, the story's author, writer Daniel Pinkwater took to the Daily News to respond to the incident. "You bet I sold out," Pinkwater wrote an eighth grader who emailed him to complain. "Not to the Department of Education, but to the publisher of tests, useless programmed reading materials, and similar junk... You'd do the same thing if you were a writer, and didn't know where your next pineapple was coming from."

When David Markson died, his personal library was (in)famously donated to the Strand bookstore, where it was sold off in pieces. Now, bits of it are being reassembled in Reading Markson, a new blog dedicated to recording and interpreting the marginalia in Markson's books.

The AP Stylebook has yielded and accepted the modern usage of "hopefully" as correct. Prior to this, the only accepted meaning of the word was "in a hopeful manner."

It takes fifty-six hours to listen to the entire Infinite Jest audiobook, and that's not including footnotes. To resolve the issue of how to deal with the 388 footnotes, Hachette decided to use a different actor's voice to indicate when a note was included within the text. "It was the hardest book I ever had to narrate... it was maddening, engaging, enlightening, frustrating and entertaining," narrator Sean Pratt said of the experience.

In honor of the two hundredth anniversary of the publication of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Germany is re-tooling a scenic tourist route from Frankfurt to Bremen as Fairy Tale Road: "Along its route, visitors can stay (in some style) in the very room from which Rapunzel was depicted as letting her hair down, and sleep in the tower where Sleeping Beauty supposedly pricked her finger."

Over four hundred writers participated in the Los Angeles Times's Festival of Books this weekend, which featured dozens of panels and sessions across the USC campus. Chad Harbach, Mona Simpson, Etgar Keret and others addressed everything from dealing with a successful novel to playfulness in fiction to crime and food writing. Full coverage of the events is up at the LAT's books blog.


C. E. Morgan, Luc Sante, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, John Wray, Philip Gourevitch, Ruth Franklin, and Gary Panter are among the fifteen winners of the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center fellowship, which awards grantees a private office, a stipend, and research assistance from library staff. If this weren’t enough, it’s been an especially good month for Wray and Franklin—last week, both were awarded Guggenheim fellowships.

David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis—starring Robert Pattinson—will be one of the main features at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. A complete festival lineup is available here, and a trailer for the movie (which looks awesome) is up at Slate.

Lena Dunham tells the New York Times that she loves autobiographies, biographies, and is obsessed with "The Private Diaries of Catherine Deneuve, in which we learn intimate details about working with titans of the French New Wave and she talks smack about Bjork.”

For just under $25, boutique publisher U Star books will reprint a paperback edition of a classic novel with your name in it. So far, twenty-seven books are available for personalizing, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Little Women, and The Three Musketeers. Notable omissions include Lolita and American Psycho.

Y.A. fiction isn’t a genre, it’s a category: the Atlantic Wire goes deep into the definition and history of the rapidly popularizing body of literature.

The New Yorker opened its fact-checking department in 1927 after a profile of Edna St. Vincent Millay went terribly wrong (her mother wrote in to complain). Here’s a short history of their published corrections from the following eighty-five years. Meanwhile, have you been wondering what New Yorker staffers are reading?


Penguin has bought the rights to Jonathan Safran Foer’s next book, Escape from Children’s Hospital, which is a fictionalized account of a real explosion JSF experienced at a summer science camp when he was nine. The incident “left Safran Foer's best friend without skin on his face or hands,” and left the author “unscathed by inches.” The book will be released in early 2014.

They didn’t win the Pulitzer, but the three books nominated have seen a spike in their Amazon sales. Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams jumped from #990 to #98, Karen Russell’s Swamplandia went from #984 to #155, and The Pale King is now #561 (paperback) and #625 (hardcover).

Ted Hughes’s 92-year-old brother Gerald has written a memoir about their childhood in Yorkshire, England. The manuscript was “discovered” at the London book fair this week, when the poet’s daughter mentioned to a publisher that her uncle was putting the finishing touches on the book. "It's an evocative account of their childhood together,” publisher Jeremy Robson said of Ted and I, which will come out in the UK this fall. “Roaming the fields, fishing, shooting—all the material for Ted's later poems, and a good deal more."

Americans are dominating the shortlist for Britain’s Orange Prize—an annual award granted to a novel written by a woman in English. Of the six nominees, four—Cynthia Ozick, Ann Patchett, Madeline Miller, and Canadian Esi Edugyan—hail from this side of the Atlantic.

Jonathan Lethem “writes” a YouTube essay on Roosevelt, New Jersey, for The New Inquiry.

Knopf is pulling a 2666 and will release Haruki Murakami’s epic IQ84 as a three-book paperback set. You can see John Gall’s design (which we prefer over the Chip Kidd hardcover) here.

The Los Angeles Review of Books has just unveiled their new site, complete with new reviews, essays, and interviews by Maria Bustillos, Geoff Nicholson, and Mark McGurl.

Portland’s innovative Publication Studio, the brainchild of novelist Matthew Stadler and Patricia No, is in New York to showcase some of its latest titles, which include Kevin Killian’s Spreadeagle and STS’s Golden Brothers. (We also recommend Dodie Bellamy’s The Buddhist.) Their series of events starts tonight with a mixer at MoMA, continues on Friday at Printed Matter, and then, on Saturday, moves to a restaurant for a five-course meal.


Amazon Publishing has acquired a ten-year North American license to publish all of the books in Ian Flemming’s “James Bond” series.

If you Google the words “About the Author,” Thomas L. Friedman’s biography comes up. At The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal investigates why, and finds that it isn’t a search-engine optimization trick. It turns out that Friedman’s biography actually is the internet’s most linked-to author page—likely from as many detractors as from admirers. (The second result is John Colapinto’s clever 2001 novel of stolen identity, About the Author).

Michael Cunningham, one of this year’s Pulitzer jurors, weighs in on the failure to give an award to a work of fiction this year: “There’s something amiss.”

So you’re a novelist, and you need a blurb for your new book? In a New Yorker humor piece, bestselling author Adam Mansbach (of Go the Fk to Sleep fame) says he’s happy to oblige—for a price.

Charles Simic considers the horror of what happens when there’s nothing—or at least nothing good—to read in the bathroom.

The Charlie Rose special on Christopher Hitchens—which features a roundtable with Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis, and others—is now online.

The author is not only dead, she’s now been replaced by Wikipedia. Gawker flags a sad new trend in publishing, exemplified most recently by, ahem, a book called Celebrities With Big Dicks. This trend is the Wiki-anthology—books made up exclusively of Wikipedia articles. The title in question—which includes more than two dozen articles on Jay-Z, Liam Neeson and Colin Farrell, among others—is published by the South Carolina-based company BiblioLabs, whose internet arm, Project Webster, “uses human curators to assemble Wikipedia content into new works."

What did it cost Patti Smith, Shirley Jackson, Dorothy Parker, and five other women writers to make it in New York? The Awl crunches the numbers.


HHhH author Laurent Binet.

Following the controversy surrounding a Gunther Grass poem that criticizes Israel, Dave Eggers says that he will not attend a ceremony in Bremen, Germany, to accept an award from the Gunter Grass Foundation.

In 2006, Laurent Binet was horrified to learn that another author had published a novel perilously similar (in content, if not in style) to the one he was working on. Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones was a sprawling Holocaust novel featuring many of the same Nazi SS officers and administrators that would end up in Binet’s novel-in-progress. To address the overlap, Binet, “began to interpolate passages covering, in real-time, his reading of The Kindly Ones and his fears about what it meant for his book” in his own book, HHhH, which went on to win France’s Prix Goncourt in 2010. These passages were redacted in the U.S. version of the novel (which comes out this week) but now are available to read for the first time at the Millions.

Here’s the trailer for James Franco’s forthcoming Hart Crane biopic.

RJ Wheaton—author of the 33 1/3 book on Portishead’s album Dummy—offers a few tips on how to pitch to the music book series.

The Pulitzer Prize for fiction didn’t go to anybody this year, as jurors determined that none of the three finalists—Denis Johnson for Train Dreams, Karen Russell for Swamplandia, and the late David Foster Wallace for The Pale King—were worthy of the award. This is the first time that a Pulitzer hasn’t been awarded for fiction since 1977, and is causing something of an uproar. Htmlgiant quotes a William Gass essay on the awards: “…the Pulitzer Prize in fiction takes dead aim at mediocrity and almost never misses.” But as writer Elliott Holt and others have pointed out, this isn’t necessarily a rejection of fiction in 2011. “No awards means no book got a majority vote.” In other news, the Huffington Post also nabbed their first Pulitzer in the category of National Reporting.

The Ransom Center at the University of Texas Austin is home to David Foster Wallace’s papers and self-help library, the unpublished essays of Jorge Luis Borges, the papers of Denis Johnson and J.M. Coetzee, and one Gutenberg bible. Soon, it’ll also house T.C. Boyle’s archive. The Center has paid $425,000 for all the scribbles and research notes that went into his twenty-four books and 150 short stories. All of which, Boyle |about:blank|told| the Los Angeles Times, are in “exceptional” condition: "Not too many bloodstains, no insects, no rat turds, no rat corpses."

Pop quiz: The Awl challenges you to differentiate between sentences written by Edith Wharton and lines from reviews of Lena Dunham’s Girls?

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