Woe betide our republic of letters! The shadowy culture arbiters who serve on the Pulitzer Prize board have withheld their favor from the field of American novels published in 2011. Booksellers, writers and critics have been up in arms ever since news of the non-award broke in mid-April. In a cri de coeur published in the New York Times’s op-ed pages, novelist Ann Patchett—who also runs an independent bookstore in Nashville—decried the committee’s abstention as a cause for “indignation” and, indeed, “rage.”
“I can’t imagine there was ever a year when we were so in need of the excitement the [fiction Pulitzer] creates in readers,” Ms. Patchett wrote.
It’s easy to miss, amid Ms. Patchett’s vehemence, the patent condescension that prize-dependent marketing visits upon American readers. In her distinctly arid account of readerly engagement, news of a prestigious laurel is what’s needed to generate “the buzz,” as she puts it, “that is so often lacking.” But the question is far better turned on its head: If an entire industry must rely on aloof prize boards to gin up sustained interest, then the trouble would seem to be the industry itself, rather than the prize boards or the consumers.
What was most remarkable about Chad Harbach’s book party at the Brooklyn Brewery last night was the bonhomie. An agent pointed it out to The Observer as we stood around the indoor picnic tables drinking lager from plastic cups: it helps that Mr. Harbach is a nice guy from the Midwest (there was a lot of Midwestern pride in the room last night), but it makes everybody in publishing happy when a work of literary fiction by a talented first-time novelist not only gets a big advance but also sells well. For all of publishing’s sometime dysfunction, something actually worked.
McNally Jackson, the book store in Soho, has compiled a list of baseball clichés for book reviewers of Chad Harbach’s new novel, The Art of Fielding, that really hits a fastball into our hearts.
British GQ gave Keith Richards its “writer of the year” award for his autobiography Life. The award was presented to Mr. Richards by Johnny Depp, whereupon Mr. Richards disclosed that Life was being made into a film. This is funny because there really is only one actor who might be qualified to portray Keith Richards in a film.
Summer is on the wane, the book publishers have vacated the city, and New York magazine can only look forward, towards fall, when we can all get excited again about big advances for debut novels and another article about debut novelist and big advance recipient Chad Harbach!
Now A Major Motion Picture
Chad Harbach, n+1 editor, novelist and now “consulting producer” has been snapped up in HBO’s general raid on everyone in New York City who has written a book.
“You should write about how boring BookExpo America is,” New York literary agent Ira Silverberg told Transom. “Yeah, right,” we thought.
But then there we were, at a BEA kick-off party thrown by Flavorpill and Electric Literature at Le Bain, on the rooftop of the Standard Hotel, which someone remarked was like standing atop a Read More
Chad Harbach, an editor at n+1, has sold his debut novel to Michael Pietsch at Little, Brown. It’s called The Art of Fielding, and it’s about baseball.
Agent Chris Parris-Lamb of the Gernert Company shepherded Harbach’s book through what publishing industry sources say was “an old-fashioned auction”–stretching from Wednesday to Friday and involving eight imprints, Read More