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Celebrate America with these book-inspired Fourth of July cocktails

Cocktails and conversation are a natural pairing—just ask Tessa Smith-McGovern, whose newest project shares drink recipes inspired by authors, quenching the thirst for both a great read and a satisfying libation.

“The book came about for a few reasons,” Smith-McGovern tells EW. “It’s always a thrill to share great writing, and many of these authors are under-appreciated—Gail Godwin and Alison Lurie come to mind instantly, but also Junot Diaz. Plus, cocktails are the height of elegance and say ‘fun time.’ Who doesn’t need more fun in their lives?” READ FULL STORY

Bronte sisters' two-inch books to display at Harvard library

Thanks to poet Amy Lowell, the Harvard Library has come across some very tiny, very valuable literary treasures from the Bronte family.

In the 1800s, Charlotte Bronte and her sisters lost their mother and their two eldest siblings. At the young ages of 9 and 10, Charlotte and her brother Branwell then started writing plays about the adventures of their toy soldiers set in a fictional world. Soon afterwards, Charlotte’s two youngest sisters, Emily and Anne, followed with stories of their own. The siblings called themselves “scribblemaniacs,” a name that followed them into early adulthood.

Most of the Bronte family’s childhood stories ended up in hand-sewn books that stood just two inches tall. And after a donation from Lowell, Harvard Magazine is reporting that Harvard’s Houghton Library has worked hard to preserve and protect the miniature pieces. The library is set to display nine of the approximately 20 books, one of which is the beginning of a novelette called “An interesting passage in the lives of some eminent personages of the present age,” written by Charlotte under the name “Lord Charles Wellesley.” Get a glimpse of the books themselves—so teeny!—at Harvard Mag.

'A Series of Unfortunate Events' author Lemony Snicket will host the National Book Awards

Today, the National Book Foundation announced that A Series of Unfortunate Events author Lemony Snicket, whose real name is Daniel Handler, will host the 65th National Book Awards ceremony this fall. Handler will be the first author of both adult and children’s books to emcee the event, which is scheduled to take place on November 19 in New York City. Last year’s ceremony was hosted by Mika Brzezinski, host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

This is not the first time that Handler has participated in the proceedings.  In 2008, the best-selling author chaired the panel that gave out the way award for best young people’s literature book.

“Daniel Handler is witty, charming, and one of the best writers in America,” the foundation’s executive director, Harold Augenbraum, said in a press release. “We are looking forward forward to a wonderful National Book Awards evening this year with him as host.” In a statement, Handler said that when the foundation’s executive director Harold Augenbraum contacted him about hosting, he thought he had won an award. “Um, guess again,” Augenbraum told him.

In addition to the A Series of Unfortunate Events book series, Handler has also written the All the Wrong Questions series under his pen name, and he is currently working on We Are Pirates, the story of a pair of high school girls who steal a ship and attack other boats in the San Francisco Bay. His work as Daniel Handler includes 2006’s Adverbs and 2011’s Why We Broke Up.

 

 

What We're Reading Now: 'The Vacationers' by Emma Straub

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I’ve been moaning about wanting the perfect summer read for a while now (let’s not count the number of posts I’ve mentioned it in, mkay?). Everything was falling a teensy bit short of expectations: a flat character here, a lame plot twist there, something always sitting a bit wrong. I’d all but dashed my hopes for the season when Stephan came across this one, emailing me immediately about having the book for me / this blog / any upcoming trips / summer days / lazy afternoons / quiet moments by the pool / longish hours on the plane / do you get what I’m saying?

I didn’t want Stephan to get a big head, thinking he was my only book-friend in this office so I wagged my finger, chiding him, “Maybe someone else wants to give me a book this week.” The Vacationers would have to wait, or so I thought.

And then…

Well… READ FULL STORY

PEN American Center releases 2014 literary award shortlists

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Today, the PEN American Center—the largest branch of the PEN International organization—released shortlists for nine of its literary prizes today, and some of the names among them are Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls author David Sedaris, Forty-one False Starts author Janet Malcolm, and The Sports Gene author David Epstein.

PEN presents awards in categories ranging from best debut work to best work of poetry in translation, and today’s shortlists are culled from longlists announced earlier this year. The announcement doesn’t cover the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award for the best work of fiction by an American author or the PEN/Malamud Award for a short story author. The Faulkner Award went to Karen Joy Fowler for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, and the Malamud Award hasn’t been announced yet.

From PEN America’s website, here are the full shortlists. The winners will be announced on July 30th.

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2013—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

Judges: Charles Bock, Jonathan Dee, Fiona Maazel, and Karen Shepard

  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth), Anthony Marra
  • Brief Encounters With the Enemy (The Dial Press), Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
  • Everybody’s Irish (FiveChapters Books), Ian Stansel
  • Godforsaken Idaho (Little A/New Harvest), Shawn Vestal
  • The People in the Trees (Doubleday), Hanya Yanagihara

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2013 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.

Judges: Geoff Dyer, Stanley Fish, Ariel Levy, and Cheryl Strayed

  • Forty-One False Starts (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Janet Malcolm
  • Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls (Little, Brown and Company), David Sedaris
  • The Faraway Nearby (Viking Adult), Rebecca Solnit
  • Critical Mass (Doubleday), James Wolcott

PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000): For a book of literary nonfiction on the subject of the physical or biological sciences published in 2013.

Judges: Akiko Busch, Rivka Galchen, and Eileen Pollack

  • The End of Night (Little, Brown and Company), Paul Bogard
  • Five Days at Memorial (Crown), Sheri Fink
  • High Price (Harper), Carl Hart
  • Surfaces and Essences (Basic Books), Douglas Hofstadter & Emmanuel Sander
  • Wild Ones (Penguin Press), Jon Mooallem

PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2013.

Judges: Catherine Chung, Randa Jarrar, and Monica Youn

  • Duppy Conqueror (Copper Canyon Press), Kwame Dawes
  • Leaving Tulsa (University of Arizona Press), Jennifer Elise Foerster
  • domina Un/blued (Tupelo Press), Ruth Ellen Kocher
  • Cowboys and East Indians (FiveChapters Books), Nina McConigley
  • Ghana Must Go (Penguin Press), Taiye Selasi

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2013.

Judges: James Atlas, Lisa Cohen, and Wendy Gimbel

  • Lawrence in Arabia (Doubleday), Scott Anderson
  • Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Linda Leavell
  • Margaret Fuller (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Megan Marshall
  • American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Deborah Solomon
  • A Life of Barbara Stanwyck (Simon & Schuster), Victoria Wilson

PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2013.

Judges: Joel Drucker, Chad Harbach, and Jackie MacMullan

  • Collision Low Crossers (Little, Brown and Company), Nicholas Dawidoff
  • The Sports Gene (Current), David Epstein
  • League of Denial (Crown Archetype), Mark Fainaru-Wada & Steve Fainaru
  • The Emerald Mile (Scribner), Kevin Fedarko
  • Their Life’s Work (Simon & Schuster), Gary M. Pomerantz

PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing ($5,000): To a writer for an exceptional story illustrated in a picture book published in 2013.

Judges: Mac Barnett, Ted Lewin, and Elizabeth Winthrop

  • Train (Orchard Books), Elisha Cooper
  • Tea Party Rules (Viking), Ame Dyckman
  • The King of Little Things (Peachtree Publishers), Bil Lepp
  • Crabtree (McSweeney’s McMullens), Jon & Tucker Nichols

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2013.

Judge: Kimiko Hahn

  • Even Now: Poems by Hugo Claus (Archipelago), David Colmer
  • Diaries of Exile by Yannis Ritsos (Archipelago), Karen Emmerich & Edmund Keeley
  • Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson by Yosa Buson (Copper Canyon Press), Takako Lento & W.S. Merwin
  • Paul Klee’s Boat by Anzhelina Polonskaya (Zephyr Press), Andrew Wachtel
  • Cut These Words Into My Stone: Ancient Greek Epitaphs (Johns Hopkins University Press), Michael Wolfe

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2013.

Judges: Ann Goldstein, Becka McKay, and Katherine Silver

  • An Armenian Sketchbook by Vasily Grossman (New York Review Books), Elizabeth & Robert Chandler
  • Transit by Anna Seghers (New York Review Books), Margot Bettauer Dembo
  • The African Shore by Rodrigo Rey Rosa (Yale University Press), Jeffrey Gray
  • The Emperor’s Tomb by Joseph Roth (New Directions), Michael Hofmann
  • Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (New York Review Books), Joanne Turnbull & Nikolai Formozov

 

Kevin Kwan Q&A: Update on 'Crazy Rich Asians' movie adaptation, and book sequel title announced -- EXCLUSIVE

Live sharks in living rooms, a private jet with a yoga studio — what can be more over-the-top than the lives of the über-rich Kevin Kwan put on the page in Crazy Rich Asians? His upcoming sequel, China Rich Girlfriend — the title of which is being revealed on EW exclusively — promises more.

“I’ve definitely not used up the crazy,” Kwan says. “I have so many more stories. But this is, once again, going to be based on a lot of what I’ve seen and witnessed.” China Rich Girlfriend will likely be one of next year’s popular beach reads upon its release on June 16, 2015.

Kwan also updated us on the movie adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians. It’s being written by playwright Keith Bunin, who also scripted Daniel Radcliffe-starrer Horns, adapted from the book by Joe Hill. Casting news is being held tightly under wraps, but Kwan said that he’s heavily involved in the production process and that, at this point, he and other producers are in talks with studios to collaborate with.

Check out a condensed version of our interview below: READ FULL STORY

See the cover for 'We Are Pirates,' an upcoming novel by Daniel Handler

Daniel Handler is still working on the All the Wrong Questions series, but he’s also taken his Lemony Snicket hat off to work on another project. We’ve got an exclusive cover reveal for We Are Pirates, his upcoming novel for adults (above), to be released on February 3rd, 2015. The book follows the story of a couple of high school girls who steal a ship and attack other boats in San Francisco bay. We’ve also got an exclusive Q&A with the author — check it out below.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you choose piracy as the topic for your new novel?

DANIEL HANDLER: When I was in high school, everyone had to take a survey on what careers they had in mind.  Every occupation you could possibly imagine was listed, and at the very bottom was a box marked “other.”  A friend and I got everyone in our homeroom to check “other” and then, in the blank, write “pirate.”  The authorities were not amused, but since then the idea of piracy, how impractical and unusual it is in our era, has burned in my mind.

You were born in and live in San Francisco, the same place as the girls in the novel. How important is the setting to you, as an author?

Setting’s always a crucial part of a story.  While there are other cities in which We Are Pirates could have been set, I’m in an informal competition with Andrew Sean Greer over writing the great San Francisco novel.

What can you tell us about the next book in the All the Wrong Questions series?

The four volumes in All The Wrong Questions center around crimes arranged in ascending evil.  The first volume centers on a theft; the second on an abduction; and the third, Shouldn’t You Be In School?, on arson.

What are you reading and recommending now?

I am wandering the streets telling people to read Kathryn Davis’s eerie and wondrous novel Duplex, although lately I have been further distracted by the poetry of Dorothea Lasky and a comic I just discovered called Sex Criminals.

What would your name be if you were a pirate?

“The One Who Stays Below Board During All The Mayhem And Then Serves Gimlets To The Survivors.”

'Brutal Youth': EW's Anthony Breznican reveals inspiration behind his dark coming-of-age novel

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EW senior writer Anthony Breznican’s first novel, Brutal Youth, hits shelves and e-readers on June 10. As part of the release, we asked Breznican to write about his teen years and how they inspired his coming-of-age debut.

I never liked to fight. Maybe that’s because I was bad at it.

I didn’t like to get beaten up.

One time while riding the bus home in seventh grade, some guys who were getting bored of picking on me decided I might be a good candidate for one of their younger brothers to pulverize. That kid was three or four years younger than I was — and eager to kick my ass for no good reason. When we came to my street, the whole gang got up and walked off the bus, making a little semi-circle on the street corner. I trudged down the aisle behind them with my head down, then stopped short of the door and sat down in the front seat. The driver looked at me. “I’ll get off at the next stop,” I said. The guys on the street corner whooped and screamed with fury as the door hissed shut and I rolled safely away. (I’m not sure why they didn’t beat me up the next day. Maybe they were really bored.)

If I could find a way to get out of a fight, I would take it. Maybe I was a coward, but I also didn’t like the feeling of hitting another person. When you’ve been on the business end of enough fists, you’re not so quick to make one. I’m sure I said tons of mean and cruel things to other students over the years, which is its own form of bullying. But I never beat anyone up.

That’s kind of ironic, because in my new novel, Brutal Youth, I beat up a lot of kids. READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Do you want to die in the next 'Game of Thrones' novel?

If you know anything about Game of Thrones, you know that author George R.R. Martin kills off a lot of characters. If you’d like to join that esteemed company, here’s your chance. Martin is offering the opportunity to “meet a grisly death” in the next Song of Ice and Fire novel if you donate $20,000 to a fundraiser for the Wild Wolf Spirit sanctuary in New Mexico and The Food Depot of Santa Fe. You’ll be able to choose your position in the world (knight, peasant, whore, lady, etc) as well. But hurry! Offer only good while supplies last. Only one male and one female character are available. Other awards including sharing a breakfast with Martin, tickets to the show’s season 5 premiere, and even Martin’s hat. [Prizeo]

Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins will soon be joining the fray in the Amazon-Hachette war. According to Bloomberg News, their contracts are up for renewal next. This means that Amazon will be up against bigger arms — the publishers’ respective owners are News Corp. and CBS Corp. It also means that Veronica Roth and Stephen King will join J.K. Rowling and James Patterson in the controversy. Independent bookstore owners have also started yelling battle cries — the American Booksellers Association made digital banners reading, “Thanks, Amazon, the indies will take it from here,” “Independent bookstores sell books from all publishers. Always,” and “Pre-order and buy Hachette titles today.” Among all this, Hachette is laying off 3 percent of its staff. [Bloomberg]

Debut novelist Eimar McBride won the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, one of the most highly regarded prizes in English-language literature. You might have heard of it when it was called the Orange Prize, sponsored by the British telecom company Orange, but it switched names and sponsorship this year. The book, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, beat out Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah for the award, as well as four other novels on the shortlist. “I hope it will serve as an incentive to publishers everywhere to take a look at difficult books and think again,” McBride said at the ceremony. “We are all writers but we are all readers first. There is a contract between publishers and readers which must be honoured, readers can not be underestimated.” [The Guardian]

In honor of the upcoming World Cup, the curator of Brazilian literature festival FlipSide, Ángel Gurría-Quintana, gives a rundown of the country’s literature — and there’s plenty of it. “Despite the common complaint that not enough Brazilian literature is published in English,” Gurría-Quintana writes. “This is an auspicious moment for new Brazilian writing in translation.” [The Guardian]

Former EW editor Jeff Giles writing YA series 'The Mercy Rule'

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Former EW deputy managing editor Jeff Giles, who oversaw the magazine’s coverage of movies and books and edited plenty of Hunger Games cover stories, has a new young-adult series of his own coming soon. Bloomsbury Children’s has acquired the global rights to two books by him: The Mercy Rule, a fantasy novel about a teen girl trying to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance who meets a bounty hunter trying to escape the Lowlands (a.k.a. hell), and an as-yet-untitled sequel. Giles is represented by literary agent Jodi Reamer, who also represents John Green and Stephenie Meyer.

The Mercy Rule daringly straddles the line between realistic fiction and fantasy — the kind of book that takes hold of you and never lets go,” Cindy Loh, Publishing Director for Bloomsbury Children’s Books, says in a press release. “Jeff is an incredibly gifted storyteller and we knew from page one that this was a project to support in a big way. We have ambitious plans for Jeff and his stunning new series.”

The Mercy Rule is slated for publication in early 2016.

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