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Updated: 2 hours 28 min ago

Haruki Murakami and James Frey lead an all-male shortlist for the bad sex in fiction award

Mon, 12/03/2018 - 05:00
The Literary Review has announced an all-male shortlist for that least-coveted of literary prizes, the Bad sex in fiction award.

Haruki Murakami, often named as a contender for the Nobel prize, makes the cut for passages from his latest novel Killing Commendatore ... The controversial US novelist James Frey was selected for a scene in his novel Katerina described by judges as "almost like wish fulfilment" ... continued

Mystery Writers of America withdraws Linda Fairstein's Grand Master Edgar Award

Fri, 11/30/2018 - 15:31
In the wake of increasing controversy over the naming of bestselling mystery author Linda Fairstein as one of next year's Grand Master Edgar recipients, Mystery Writers of America has withdrawn the award. Tuesday's announcement had sparked numerous protests on social media and prompted MWA to respond by saying it took the objections seriously and would reexamine the decision. The focus of the protests is Fairstein's role as a member of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office in 1989's Central Park Jogger case, which resulted in the wrongful imprisonment for years of five minority teenagers.

The New Booker Prize winner who may never write again

Fri, 11/30/2018 - 14:56
The New York Times has an extensive and moving interview with Anna Burns, who won this year's Mann Booker Prize for her novel, Milkman which will be published in the USA on December 4:

Burns is one of the more surprising recent winners of the Booker, one of literature’s biggest awards. “Milkman” was this year’s outsider, up against Richard Powers’ ecological epic “The Overstory” and Esi Edugyan’s heralded slavery-era “Washington Black,” among others. It was also labeled an “experimental novel” because its characters are nameless and its paragraphs sometimes run for several pages. Her victory provoked think pieces about the “bold choice.”

“I don’t understand,” said Burns, when asked why it had picked up such an awkward label. “Is it the whole nameless thing? Is it really difficult? The book just didn’t want names.” (The tag does not seem to have put many off buying it. Faber, her British publisher, has sold over 350,000 copies so far...

Netflix adapts Dahl's stories for original animated series

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 15:37
Netflix will create an original animated series of Roald Dahl stories including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG and The Twits.

"Roald Dahl stories have long inspired award-winning feature films and stage productions,” Netflix said in its announcement. “But now, for the first time, Netflix will bring together the highest quality creative, visual, and writing teams to extend the stories in this first-of-its-kind slate of premium animated event series and specials for audiences of all ages and for families to enjoy together."

Margaret Atwood Is writing a sequel to 'The Handmaid's Tale'

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 05:00
Following two years in which Margaret Atwood's classic dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale saw a skyrocketing in readership and new cultural relevance, both on television and in society at large, the author has announced a sequel.

The Testaments, set 15 years after the final scene of The Handmaid's Tale, will be published on September 10, 2019, by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, with an announced first printing of 500,000 copies.

Can Steve Jobs' wife save storytelling?

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 05:00
Over the last few years, Ms. Powell Jobs, an activist, investor and entrepreneur, has been investing in media companies through her social impact firm, Emerson Collective. Buying up a range of unusual properties, she seems to be making an effort to turbocharge storytelling in this fractured digital age.

It's an interesting experiment to watch, because the investments include a panoply of the cool, hip and fresh in a mostly glum content industry. On Tuesday, Emerson is announcing that it has bought Pop-Up Magazine Productions, which runs innovative and decidedly quirky "live magazine" events across the country and publishes The California Sunday Magazine. The magazine appears in print and online, and has made an award-winning splash in its short tenure. Ms. Powell Jobs's firm last year quietly invested at least $10 million in Pop-Up, based in San Francisco, and is now taking full control of all of it...

Costa Award shortlists announced

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 13:20
The shortlists for the 2018 Costa Awards have been released. The five category winners will be announced on January 7 and the overall winner on January 29. The awards honor "some of the most outstanding books of the year written by authors based in the U.K. and Ireland."

James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress for nearly three decades, dies aged 89

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 13:07
James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress for nearly three decades, who led the nation’s treasure house of knowledge into the digital age (not without controversy) and added millions of books, films and cultural artifacts to its historic collections, including a trove of tweets, died last Tuesday in Washington. He was 89.

Why the USA is increasingly embracing translated novels

Sun, 11/25/2018 - 15:41
The Washington Post reports on why translated literature is gaining ground in the USA:

In the two disharmonious decades of the 21st century, American society has grown less homogeneous and more interactive. Americans have expanded their engagement with other cultures. Smartphones and social media accompanied the war against terrorism, and the distance between Over Here and Over There shrank. Chad Post, the founder of Open Letter and the creator of the translation blog Three Percent (the name comes from an old statistic for the percentage of all literary books published in the United States in a given year that are translations), suggests that 9/11 sparked “sudden interest in foreign countries, and new awareness of the general connectedness of the world.” But even if that interest and awareness began with the Middle East, it quickly spread to Central America, South America, China, Europe and Japan. The houses that sought out foreign titles were the advance guard of a quiet revolution in publishing, which has been attended by new academic programs, certificates and degrees that are equipping the next generation of translators to bring foreign literature to readers who find it “enticing,” as Post puts it.

The increasing trend of novelists writing for TV

Sun, 11/25/2018 - 15:33
The New York Times explores the increasingly porous borders between writing novels and writing for television...

In a world in which some of our more successful or esteemed novelists — Margaret Atwood, Gillian Flynn, George R.R. Martin, Salman Rushdie, Kevin Kwan, Neil Gaiman, Tom Perrotta, Noah Hawley, A.M. Homes, Jonathan Ames, Megan Abbott and David Benioff, to name only a few — have written or are writing for the small screen, literary academia has less reason than ever to be sheepish about preparing its charges for the solaces of a healthy paycheck. Green, a Writer’s Workshop graduate herself, said, “I hope it doesn’t take away from writers practicing their art. There’s quality work on TV now. It’s not as shameful to write for it as it once was.” The Writers’ Workshop’s Chang said, “Seriously, I don’t hear any grumbling and I don’t think it’s going to dilute our brand.”

Esi Edugyan Wins Second Giller Prize for Washington Black

Tue, 11/20/2018 - 15:15
Esi Edugyan was announced as the winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize for her novel Washington Black during a televised awards banquet Monday night at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Toronto. The Giller is considered Canada's most prestigious literary prize.

Edugyan previously won the prize in 2011 for her novel Half-Blood Blues, making her the third two-time Giller winner, alongside M.G. Vasangi and Alice Munro.

Oxford Dictionaries designates 'toxic' its word of the year

Sun, 11/18/2018 - 14:38
The Oxford Word of the Year 2018 is… toxic.

The adjective toxic is defined as 'poisonous' and first appeared in English in the mid-seventeenth century from the medieval Latin toxicus, meaning 'poisoned' or 'imbued with poison'...

The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance.

In 2018, toxic added many strings to its poisoned bow becoming an intoxicating descriptor for the year’s most talked about topics. It is the sheer scope of its application, as found by our research, that made toxic the stand-out choice for the Word of the Year title...

First Lady memoirs, past and present

Sun, 11/18/2018 - 11:40
The Washington Post looks at First Lady memoirs past and present, starting with Julia Grant:

When former first lady Julia Grant finished her memoir in 1899, with the help of one Mark Twain, she couldn’t find a publisher for it.

“My book, on which I have built so many castles, is by the critics pronounced too near, too close to the private life of [her husband], and I thought this was just what was wanted. You can well imagine my great disappointment and sorrow,” the widow of Ulysses S. Grant wrote in a letter to a friend.

National Book Award Winners announced including first winner of the Translated Literature category

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 11:30
The 2018 National Book Award Winners have been announced. See them all on BookBrowse including the first winner of the new Translated Literature category.

Birdwatching with Jonathan Franzen: 'Climate change isn't the only danger to birds'

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 13:52
'The two things I love most are novels and birds, and they're both in trouble,' says The Corrections author, one of the world's most famous birdwatchers, in an extensive interview in The Guardian

500 indie bookstores to take part in sixth Indies First celebration on Small Business Saturday

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 11:52
With less than 10 days to go until Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday shopping season, independent bookstores around the country are finalizing their plans for the sixth annual Indies First celebration. Held every year on Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday, Indies First has grown to include more than 500 indie bookstores around the country.

Amazon Picks NYC, Arlington, Va., as New HQ Sites

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 11:37
Amazon confirmed Tuesday morning that it has chosen sites in New York City and Northern Virginia as the locations for its new headquarters. As previously reported, the New York City office will be located in the Long Island City neighborhood in Queens. The Northern Virginia site will be in the National Landing section of Arlington, about five miles away from Crystal City, which previously had been reported as the Amazon choice in the metro Washington, D.C., area.

Stan Lee, chief writer and editor of Marvel Comics dies aged 95

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 13:51
Stan Lee, who as chief writer and editor of Marvel Comics helped create some of the most enduring superheroes of the 20th century and was a major force behind the breakout successes of the comic-book industry in the 1960s and early '70s, died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 95.

Amazon backs down after booksellers in 27 countries protest

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 14:24
A worldwide strike by antiquarian booksellers against an Amazon subsidiary proved successful after two days, with the retailer apologizing and saying it would cancel the actions that prompted the protest.

It was a rare concerted uprising against any part of Amazon by any of its millions of suppliers, leading to an even rarer capitulation. Even the book dealers said they were surprised at the sudden reversal by AbeBooks, the company's secondhand and rare bookselling network.

The uprising, which involved nearly 600 booksellers in 27 countries removing about four million books, was set off by the retailer's decision to cut off stores in five countries: the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, South Korea and Russia. AbeBooks never explained its actions beyond saying it was related to payment processing...

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, long-time-serving New York Times book critic, dies at 84

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 11:42
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, a nationally influential literary critic for The New York Times for three decades, who wrote some 4,000 reviews and essays, mostly for the daily column Books of The Times, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 84.