On the Books: Authors feud over Jonathan Franzen essay; Man Booker Prize goes global

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Image Credit: Greg Martin

Double the feuds, double the fun essays, with the Man Booker Prize and Jonathan Franzen stirring up literary controversies left and right. But even without the fighting, Thursday’s headlines include appearances by Junot Diaz and James Franco. Find out more below on today’s top books news:

The Man Booker Prize trustees officially announced that beginning next year, the award will be open to any novel written in English “regardless of the nationality of the author.” Unsurprisingly, reactions are pouring in: Philip Hensher says the announcement means “the end of the Booker prize,” while Robert McCrum says it was an inevitable amendment. [The Man Booker Prize Announcement]

Now on to even more feuding. Last week, Jonathan Franzen penned a rant titled “What’s Wrong with the Modern World?” which name checked Jennifer Weiner as one of the many authors propagating self promotion with Twitter. Weiner responded with an essay of her own. Here’s an excerpt:

Franzen can choose to be horrified by what he sees as shocking new developments on the literary landscape, instead of modern writers continuing the long-time practice of getting their books into readers’ hands by any means necessary. But he cannot pretend that literary writers have been ensorcelled into a headlong rush for clicks and ‘add to carts,’ pure souls who’ve been corrupted by exposure to commercial Philistines with itchy Twitter fingers. If Franzen’s being honest, he’ll acknowledge that the problem isn’t just writers like me — it’s also writers like him.

You can read the full piece over at The New Republic.

But not everyone’s angry with Franzen. “The whole thing struck me as eminently silly in the first place, since the most pointed of Franzen’s claims in the essay are so obviously true, or, at the very least, worthy of serious consideration,” writes Maria Bustillos. “What on earth are people so furious with him about?” [The New Yorker]

Meanwhile, Mario Batali is set to publish two cookbooks with Grand Central Publishing. The first, to be released in fall 2014, will look at farmers and their top products. The second, to be released in fall 2015, will be Batali’s take on American regional cuisine and include more than 250 recipes. “I am extremely excited to join my pals Daniel Boulud and Gwyneth Paltrow at the legendary Hachette/Grand Central and as I prepare to embark on a new path in a new way, discovering, recovering and loving the fantastic and delicious cooking of America,” Batali said in a press release.

Finally, here’s your must-read interview of the day: Junot Diaz talks The Onion, Miley Cyrus and rapping. Just because. [Salon]

But wait! Here’s one last link to finish off your morning: The Internet did its thing and put James Franco on the cover of classics after last week’s reveal of the silly cover art for the As I Lay Dying movie tie-in. We have to admit: The one for Dorian Gray is spot on. [Bookriot]

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