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Four Writers on the Future of Books

Gillian Reagan | February 15, 2011

On Saturday Feb. 12, at Powerhouse Books, the cavernous store and publishing house located under the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, four writers were sitting on a couch, invited to discuss “the future of the novel.” More than 100 guests still wearing their winter coats, crossing their leather boots, waited for an answer.…

Zadie Smith on Writing, Reviewing, and Cultivating the Banal

Gillian Reagan | February 8, 2011

“Having an audience does bother me,” said Zadie Smith, the British novelist, on stage at New York University’s Kimmel Center, where more than 300 students, professors, editors and readers had gathered on Feb. 2 for her coming out party as Harper’s Magazine’s new book reviewer. Her editor, Gemma Sieff, editor of the Reviews section, had…

Can Storyville Bring Short Fiction to the Water Cooler?

Gillian Reagan | February 1, 2011

Paul Vidich fell in love with short story writer Mavis Gallant’s work when he was getting his Master’s of Fine Arts at the Rutgers-Newark in New Jersey. In 2006, Vidich left his post as a senior executive at AOL and Time Warner, where he worked for 19 years, negotiating the first major label license agreement…

Editor, Agent and Author Betsy Lerner on What’s Wrong with Writers

Gillian Reagan | January 18, 2011

Sovereign book editor and star literary agent Betsy Lerner was “burning with rage.” She was sitting in the Booth Theatre this past Sunday after a production of Next to Normal, the Pulitzer-Prize winning musical about a manic depressive mother and her troubled family, surrounded by sniffling theater-goers, some with tears streaking their cheeks. “I didn’t…

6 Under 40: New Yorker’s Favorite Young Authors Read in Tribeca

Gillian Reagan | January 4, 2011

It was one of the first blustery winter nights outside the 92nd Street Y in Tribeca when six of the fiction writers who made the New Yorker’s much-discussed 20 Under 40 list, read short passages from their work in the main low-lit lounge, then took questions from a crowd. Several of the young writers who…

A Christmas Carol, New York-Style

Gillian Reagan | December 21, 2010

Sam Lipsyte, the novelist whose literary satire has been celebrated for making misery hilarious, was the first to channel Scrooge. “Bah, humbug,” he said in a low, throat-vibrating bark. On Sunday, Dec. 19, he was standing on the balcony of Housing Works Bookstore on Crosby Street dressed in a modest black sweatshirt and weekend jeans,…

Introducing Our New Bookish Blogger: Gillian Reagan

staff | December 6, 2010

Today, we’re excited to announce that original Bookish blogger and superstar reporter, Leon Neyfakh, has accepted an offer to become the Boston Globe’s new Ideas reporter. We hate to see Leon go, but our loss (and The Observer’s for that matter) is the Globe’s big gain. It’s the perfect gig for a genuinely great reporter. Congrats,…

Words & Money: A (Not So) New Publishing Model from the Old World

Leon Neyfakh | November 29, 2010

According to the new book by Andre Schiffrin, founder of the not-for-profit indie publisher The New Press, the survival of the American book business as we know it will require the generosity of wealthy individuals and intervention from the government. Schiffrin argues that neither book publishers who seek to publish important or difficult works nor…

Esopus: Not Another Art Mag

Leon Neyfakh | November 15, 2010

I met Tod Lippy last winter, right as I was starting to report on the art beat for the New York Observer. An artist I’d met recently put me in touch with him because she saw I was trying to figure out how the art world worked, and thought Lippy, a magazine editor who knew…

Philip Roth Doesn’t Feel Like Telling Nemesis

Leon Neyfakh | October 4, 2010

Just as his new book is getting ready to end, Philip Roth provides the following description of its main character: “He was largely a humorless person, articulate enough but with barely a trace of wit, who never in his life had spoken satirically or with irony, who rarely cracked a joke or spoke in jest.”…