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John Grisham apologizes for controversial child-pornography comments

Author John Grisham has apologized after making controversial comments about child pornography to The Telegraph.

In an interview published Wednesday, Grisham claimed the U.S. judicial system had “gone crazy” over the last 30 years, citing what he saw as the unfair imprisonment of white-collar criminals, minor drug offenders, and viewers of child pornography. It was that last part that caused problems—especially after Grisham explained his logic.

“We have prisons now filled with guys my age,” Grisham said. “Sixty-year-old white men in prison who’ve never harmed anybody, would never touch a child. But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn.”

Grisham attributed his stance on child porn charges to something that happened to an old law school friend of his; Grisham said his friend struggled with alcoholism, foolishly poked around on a site advertising 16-year-old prostitutes, and served three years in prison as a consequence.

“He shouldn’t ‘a done it,” Grisham said. “It was stupid, but it wasn’t 10-year-old boys.”

Grisham issued an apology and clarification through his publisher, Doubleday, on Thursday:

Anyone who harms a child for profit or pleasure, or who in any way participates in child pornography—online or otherwise—should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. My comments made two days ago during an interview with the British newspaper The Telegraph were in no way intended to show sympathy for those convicted of sex crimes, especially the sexual molestation of children. I can think of nothing more despicable. I regret having made these comments, and apologize to all.

Take a first look at Nick Hornby's new novel 'Funny Girl'

Funny-Girl-Nick-Hornby

The author of About a Boy is bringing you a new novel about a funny girl. In Funny Girl, Nick Hornby takes us to the London of the swinging sixties. Sophie Straw, a former beauty queen who cares more about humor than looks, mesmerizes the nation as the star of a sitcom. It dives deep into the world of TV comedy writing and female comics. Take a look at the mod U.S. cover of Funny Girl, exclusively revealed here, and read on for a quick Q&A about the novel, available on Feb. 3. READ FULL STORY

New York Comic-Con: The biggest comic news from this year's show

While it isn’t quite the pop culture juggernaut that San Diego Comic-Con has become, New York Comic-Con is still a very big, very crowded show with lots to see and do. However, not having the media circus that is Hall H comes with its perks: NYCC feels much more focused on comics—even if there aren’t as many new titles announced.

This year was a bit light on comics news when compared to San Diego, but the industry has a large number of conventions held throughout the year, and big news can come out of any of them. Here’s the most exciting stuff to come out of New York last weekend:

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On the Books: John Green celebrates 10 years since debut 'Looking for Alaska'

Looking-For-Alaska

- Bestselling young adult author John Green unveiled the cover of a special 10th-anniversary edition of his debut novel Looking for Alaska via Twitter yesterday. Green said on his Tumblr that the new cover was designed by Rodrigo Corral, the man behind the now ubiquitous cover of his young adult sensation and The Fault in Our Stars. He also shared that the new edition of the award-winning book—which became a bestseller in 2012, seven years after its release—will include a new introduction, an in-depth Q&A, editor notes and a few scenes that were cut from early drafts of the work.

“It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed,” Green wrote. “I feel so lucky that Alaska is still in print and still finding readers (some of whom were in preschool when it was first published). Thanks to everyone who has read it and shared it this past decade, and I hope you enjoy the anniversary edition,” currently available for preorder. Alaska is the coming-of-age story of new boarding school student Miles Halter who falls in love with a girl named Alaska. Green announced this spring that Alaska was being developed for the big screen by Sarah Polley, several weeks after the release of Josh Boone’s smash-hit adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars.  READ FULL STORY

Cassandra Clare and co. to launch Shadowhunter e-series

Shadow-Hunter

The Mortal Instruments series may have come to an epic conclusion earlier this year, but author Cassandra Clare is far from done telling Shadowhunter tales. Case in point: EW has learned that Clare will partner with bestselling authors Sarah Rees Brennan, Robin Wasserman, and Maureen Johnson for a new series of e-novellas titled Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy.

The series will launch with one story a month beginning in February, in the same vein as Clare’s Bane Chronicles. (The Bane Chronicles, co-written by Brennan and Johnson, will publish a special print edition next month.) READ FULL STORY

2014 National Book Award finalists announced

ROZ-CHAST

This morning on NPR’s Morning Edition, the National Book Foundation announced the 20 finalists for the National Book Awards in four categories.

The Fiction shortlist includes Anthony Doerr’s best-seller All the Light We Cannot See, Phil Klay’s debut collection of wartime short stories, and Emily St. John Mandel’s breakout post-apocalyptic novel Station Eleven. The Nonfiction list is most notable for its inclusion of Roz Chast for her graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?—Chast is the first cartoonist nominated in an adult category.

See below for a full list of finalists in all categories. READ FULL STORY

Australian author Richard Flanagan wins the Man Booker Prize

Australian author Richard Flanagan has won the Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North—plus the £50,000 (about $80,000) prize and the great prestige that come with it.

Flanagan, born in Tasmania and living in Australia, is the third Aussie to win the award, which he received at a ceremony on Tuesday in London. The judges described his sixth book, published by Chatto & Windus, as “a harrowing account of the cost of war to all who are caught up in it.” Set in World War II, The Narrow Road tells the story of a surgeon in a Japanese POW camp along the Thailand-Burma Death Railway. The novel was partly inspired by Flanagan’s father’s experiences as a Japanese POW—he died at age 98 on the day his son finished the book.

“The two great themes from the origin of literature are love and war: this is a magnificent novel of love and war,” said chair of the judges A.C. Grayling. “Written in prose of extraordinary elegance and force, it bridges East and West, past and present, with a story of guilt and heroism.”

Flanagan’s win carries a special historical significance because this year marked the first time ever that the competition was open to writers from any country, as long as their work was published in English in the U.K. (Previously, only citizens of the U.K. Commonwealth, Ireland or Zimbabwe were eligible.) Brits still nabbed half of the spots on September’s shortlist, and British author Neel Mukherjee was the favorite to win for The Lives Of Others, set in 1960s India.

Flanagan is as surprised as anyone else by his win. “In Australia, the Man Booker is sometimes seen as something of a chicken raffle,” Flanagan said. “I just didn’t expect to end up the chicken.”

 

 

See the trailer for 'Breaking Bad' parody cookbook 'Baking Bad'

Baking-Bad

Are you the one who bakes?

Drugs and sweet snacks have a long history together, so of course it’s about time there was a Breaking Bad parody cookbook that offers up recipes for Walter Wheat’s specialties—including “Buried Barrel Dessert,” “Heisen(Batten) Burg Cake” (yes, there’s an edible black hat), and “Box Cutter Doughnuts.” Load up on your blue rock candy, go easy on the chili P., and watch the exclusive trailer below to get ready for Baking Bad: A Parody in a Cookbook, available on Oct. 28. READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Lemony Snicket releases new web series

In September, Lemony Snicket released Shouldn’t You Be In School?, the third installment in the Series of Unfortunate Events prequel series All the Wrong Questions. To promote the series, Snicket has uploaded 34 interactive “You Choose the Mystery” videos to YouTube. Done in a faux-’50s mystery style, the goofy videos let viewers—you guessed it—choose their own mysteries via clickable options in the video. They’re silly.

Snicket, of course, is the pen name of Daniel Handler, who will release his next novel for adults, We Are Pirates, on Feb. 3, 2015. [Mediabistro]

Another popular children’s writer, Jeff Kinney, is quickly approaching a milestone. The next Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, The Long Haul, hits shelves Nov. 4, and its first printing will carry the series’ total sales past the 150 million-copy mark. That a decidedly unwimpy figure. [Publishers Weekly]

One of Kinney and Snicket’s forebears, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, died last week in San Francisco. The author specialized in books for preteen readers, often writing creepy tales about witchcraft and murder. She wrote nearly 50 books, which often combined realism and the supernatural for ambiguous endings. She was 87. [The New York Times]

China is cracking down on authors in a response to recent unrest in Hong Kong. To stifle pro-democracy protesters, the Chinese government has banned books by eight writers, including Taiwanese writer and director Giddens Ko and Chinese-American historian Yu Ying-shih. The government also detained a scholar, Guo Yushan, who helped activist Chen Guangcheng escape house arrest in 2012. [NPR]

Marvel confirms end of 'Fantastic Four' comic book series

Recent rumors have suggested Marvel’s First Family would be seeing an end in comic book form, and the publisher confirmed those suspicions during a panel at New York Comic Con this weekend.

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