The Table 4 Writers Foundation was founded in memory of Elaine Kaufman, a larger-than-life literary personality and hostess who supported NYC writers at her restaurant for many years, and awards grants to promising writers for unpublished work. The 2014 winners have just been released, and their prizewinning work can be read online. There will also be a gala in honor of the winners on April 30 in NYC, and tickets can be purchased here.
At the Missouri Review blog, our own Tess Malone writes about the supposed death of the English major, which has lost a considerable amount of popularity in the last forty years in favor of “practical disciplines.” Among other things, she links to New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier’s Brandeis commencement speech, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.
Lots of new releases this week, among them a new paperback edition of Tenth of December by George Saunders. Also out: Leaving the Sea by Ben Marcus; The Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah; On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee; The Scent of Pine by Lara Vapnyar; The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd; The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Abani; and Little Failure by Year in Reading alum Gary Shteyngart. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Jacob Silverman tackles the niceness epidemic besieging literary criticism at the moment. Where have the hatchet jobs gone? Is social media’s “communalism” robbing critics of their fangs? Each time a publication refuses to print a negative review, the act amounts to “a victory for a publicist, but not for readers,” he writes. (Just a few notes: Silverman’s piece is based on a blog post he wrote recently; Emma Straub has responded on her own blog; and, for what it’s worth, our own Michael Bourne’s recent review of Richard Ford’s Canada was pretty toothy.)
Surprising news emerged today about This American Life‘s Mike Daisey episode on Apple’s Foxconn subcontractors (previously mentioned on The Millions here, and later here). Apparently portions of Daisey’s visit to Chinese Foxconn factories were fabricated, and TAL‘s producers failed to ensure factual accuracy because he misled their efforts. As a result, the show has retracted the broadcast (PDF), Daisey has issued a statement of defense, and the next TAL episode will cover the entire fiasco.