On the Books: Tina Brown pens memoir; Man Booker Prize to include American writers

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Image Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Shaking up the literary world today: big-name memoirs, book-award announcements and an essay by Jonathan Franzen. Read on for more book news:

The National Book Foundation announced this year’s Young People’s Literature Longlist for the National Book Award; finalists will be unveiled on October 16. [Full list at the National Book Awards website.]

In more controversial awards news, the Man Booker Prize — the most prestigious British literature honor — announced Sunday that it will consider American writers starting next year. [The Independent]

Jonathan Franzen is stirring up controversy with an essay titled “What’s Wrong with the Modern World.” In it, he targets Jeff Bezos of Amazon for the site’s self-publishing and promotion. [The Guardian] Here’s an excerpt:

In my own little corner of the world, which is to say American fiction, Jeff Bezos of Amazon may not be the antichrist, but he surely looks like one of the four horsemen. Amazon wants a world in which books are either self-published or published by Amazon itself, with readers dependent on Amazon reviews in choosing books, and with authors responsible for their own promotion. The work of yakkers and tweeters and braggers, and of people with the money to pay somebody to churn out hundreds of five-star reviews for them, will flourish in that world. But what happens to the people who became writers because yakking and tweeting and bragging felt to them like intolerably shallow forms of social engagement? What happens to the people who want to communicate in depth, individual to individual, in the quiet and permanence of the printed word, and who were shaped by their love of writers who wrote when publication still assured some kind of quality control and literary reputations were more than a matter of self-promotional decibel levels?

Speaking of “the quiet and permanence of the printed word,” we’re sure Franzen would have a lot to comment about this next item: A bookless public library opened in Texas on Saturday, offering about 10,000 free e-books and audio books. [NPR]

Moving on to book releases, recently outed Tina Brown announced Friday she’ll be writing Media Beast, a memoir “of her years at the top of the media world,” says publisher Henry Holt in a press release. The book will be published in 2016.

Joining Brown in memoir-writing is former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. His book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War will cover his time as the only defense secretary to serve under a Republican president — George W. Bush — and a Democratic one — Barack Obama. “This is a book about my more than four and a half years at war,” Gates writes in his introduction. “But this book is also about my political war with Congress each day I was in office and the dramatic contrast between my public respect, bipartisanship, and calm, and my private frustration, disgust, and anger.” The book is slated for release January 14.

Meanwhile, Ricky Martin will also be penning a book, but in this case, a picture book for children titled Santiago the Dreamer in ‘Land Among the Stars,’ about a young boy who dreams of performing on stage. “I hope this book inspires young readers to believe that dreams woven from their imaginations can become reality,” Martin says in a press release. The book, which will be simultaneously published in English and in Spanish, hits shelves on November 14.

Finally, Nicholas Sparks is launching a home decor collection. Yes, you read that right — beginning Tuesday, his “hand-picked decor collection inspired by his most memorable story plots” will be available for sale through home site Joss and Main for The Nicholas Sparks Curate for a Cause Event, with proceeds benefitting The Nicholas Sparks Foundation, according to a press release. We’re betting the collection includes some decorative tissue boxes.


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