Toni Morrison doesn't need to write another book. She's published 1o celebrated fiction titles and won nearly every award there is to win as an author (a Nobel, Pulitzer Prize, and Presidential Medal of Freedom are among her honors). But, no matter! Toni Morrison is pulling a Toni Morrison—again. The distinguished author is set to release her new novel, God Help the Child, in April.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, President Obama, along with daughters Sasha and Malia, stopped by Politics and Prose, an independent bookstore based in the nation's capital. The First Family purchased 17 books in total—ranging from Jacqueline Woodson's brave memoir in verse Brown Girl Dreaming to Katherine Rundell's magical Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms.
On Wednesday night Jacqueline Woodson won the 2014 National Book Award for Young Peoples Literature. After she left the stage the host of the National Book Awards, Daniel Handler, told the crowd that she, a Black woman, "was allergic to watermelon" and then implored the crowd at the National Book Awards to "let that settle in your mind." I found myself staring at my laptop and choking on a waterfall of watermelon seeds.
Over the weekend, a YA novelist named Kathleen Hale published a piece in The Guardian that sent up a social media mushroom cloud. The piece tracked, in painstaking detail, her obsession with a Goodreads reviewer who'd given her novel only one star accompanied by snarky review. The saga ends in a trip to the reviewer's house.
I don't think it's any surprise the publishing industry—print and digital—is overwhelmingly white. But the statistics are far more upsetting than you might imagine: a recent Publisher's Weekly survey revealed the makeup of the industry to be 89 percent white, 3 percent Asian, 3 percent Hispanic, 3 percent mixed race, 1 percent black, and 1 percent other. Twenty-eight percent of respondents admitted that many publishing houses suffer from a lack of racial diversity.
Every year when Nobel time rolls around, people say America's Last Top Novelist Philip Roth should get it. Sometimes, those people are Philip Roth. In the New York Times, Dwight Garner quotes him today: "I wonder if I had called 'Portnoy's Complaint' 'The Orgasm Under Rapacious Capitalism,' if I would thereby have earned the favor of the Swedish Academy."
“Writing in general by black men from the south is very slim. To the degree that it exists—it’s women.” It’s a Thursday in early October and we’re at The Lamb’s Club in Midtown, a high-priced food depository where hundred-dollar business lunches have become daily rituals. Amid the clatter of silverware and conversation, New York Times columnist Charles Blow opens up about his new memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones—a stirring testimony of growing up in Louisiana and discovering what it means to be a man.
Flavorwire interviewed Matthew Klickstein, a man you've never heard of before, about his book, SLIMED! An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age. Mid-interview he decided to wax philosophic about diversity in the terms above. Now, I suspect, his "woman" publicist and "woman" editor both wish he were dead.
Deborah Mitford, the last of the "Mitford Girls," died this week in England at the age of 94. She and her five sisters, Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity and Jessica (called Decca), were the Middletons of their day. That is, if Kate had literary talent, and was ever called upon to utter a political opinion. And if Pippa married a fascist.
Last season, the Minnesota Vikings paid a man named Jared Allen more than a million dollars per game to maul opposing quarterbacks. The "market"— meaning us, the fans—has determined that Allen's value is roughly $18.5 million per year. The State of Minnesota pays an elementary school teacher an average of $38,000 per year. Paramedics make $42,000; cops, $28,000. That makes one quarterback mauler worth 474 elementary school teachers.