Blog Profile / LA Times: Books


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Archived Since:March 9, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Books: Susan Straight and David L. Ulin take on innovative memoirs and more in books

Good morning! Or afternoon — whenever you’re reading this. I’m books editor Carolyn Kellogg with this week’s books newsletter. THE BIG STORY We’ve got a pair of really interesting stories this week that explore innovative memoirs and how we tell autobiographical stories. The first is by critic...

'The Widows of Malabar Hill' is a thrilling mystery set in a changing India, a century ago

Unless you’re a member of England’s Lincoln’s Inn or an avid Google Doodles follower, odds are you’ve probably never heard of Cornelia Sorabji or Mithan Tata Lam. Sorabji was the first woman to graduate from the University of Bombay, the first woman to read law at Oxford and India’s first female...

Peter Mayle, author of 'A Year in Provence,' dead at 78

Peter Mayle, the British author whose midlife relocation to France inspired his bestselling "A Year in Provence" and other works set in his adopted country, has died in a hospital near his home in the south of France. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf announced that Mayle died Thursday after a brief illness....

New Orleans comes alive in Nathaniel Rich's 'King Zeno'

‘What do we want out of a historical novel? History, sure. But history is complicated, and American novelists have handled it in different ways over the last century. In his “U.S.A. Trilogy,” John Dos Passos shaped three decades of American history into a kind of cubist portrait. At midcentury,...

Annie Ernaux caps a remarkable stretch of unorthodox memoirs with 'The Years'

Annie Ernaux is ruthless. I mean that as a compliment. Perhaps no other memoirist — if, in fact, memoir-writing is what Ernaux is up to, which both is and isn’t the case — is so willing to interrogate not only the details of her life but also the slippery question of identity. Beginning with her...

Susan Straight on the powerful connection between memory, photos and the stories we tell

Since I was a child, I’ve been obsessed with photographs, probably because I’m of the generation between nothing and everything. Our grandparents often left behind so few photographs that we try to excavate their history with words alone. But our children, with smartphones, can document their lives...

Elena Ferrante, whoever she is, will be a columnist for the Guardian

Elena Ferrante, the reclusive, internationally bestselling Italian novelist, will write a weekly column for the Guardian. The tricky part is “Elena Ferrante” isn’t a person — it’s a pen name. The Guardian announced its columnist coup on Thursday. The news seems sure to come as a relief to Ferrante's...

PBS, with help from celebrities and authors, aims to find 'The Great American Read'

PBS has enlisted the help of several celebrities to determine “The Great American Read” in an upcoming competition series, the network announced Wednesday. The network's eight-part show will begin with a two-hour special on May 22. Throughout the series, stars such as Gayle King, Lauren Graham...

David Simon is adapting Philip Roth's 'The Plot Against America' for television

David Simon, the award-winning writer and producer of the hit series “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “The Wire,” is adapting Philip Roth's novel “The Plot Against America” into a six-part television miniseries. The news was announced in a New York Times interview with Roth, which noted that...

Books: An editor with a vision, the late Denis Johnson and more book news

Hello, book lovers! I’m book editor Carolyn Kellogg with this week’s literary news. THE BIG STORY John Freeman’s name is in lights — literary lights, that is, on the cover of the journal Freeman’s. In it, he encourages some of our greatest writers — Mohsin Hamid, Valeria Luiselli, Dave Eggers —...

'Red Clocks' imagines a dystopia that feels eerily close to home

How many of us made it through the chaotic past year without occasionally wishing to wake up in an alternative universe? Novelists have the tools to rearrange our reality, testing the limits of things we take for granted — politics, technology, gender, nature — and twisting them into new shapes....

John Freeman, the editor behind lauded literary journal Freeman's

The first time John Freeman lost his laptop, he panicked. He was traveling through Charles de Gaulle airport in summer 2016, and he only spoke “a smattering” of French. “I thought, ‘I’m never going to get this back.’ And it had three years of not-backed-up writing on it,” he recalled. Luckily,...

Denis Johnson' posthumous collection 'The Largesse of the Sea Maiden' is a poetic argument against toxic masculinity

In the title story of “The Largesse of the Sea Maiden” by Denis Johnson, an aging ad man struggles with his own relevance: “I note that I’ve lived longer in the past, now, than I can expect to live in the future. I have more to remember than I have to look forward to. Memory fades, not much of...

The creator of a crowdsourced list of allegedly abusive men in media reveals her identity

The creator of the Media Men List, an anonymous, crowdsourced spreadsheet documenting allegations of sexual misconduct by men in the publishing and other media, identified herself as Moira Donegan in a first-person essay for The Cut published Wednesday evening. Her essay preempted speculation that...

Arthur Miller's archive is going to the University of Texas

Almost 13 years after his death, playwright Arthur Miller's archive finally has a home — at the University of Texas at Austin. The school's Harry Ransom Center, a research library and museum, has acquired the archive of the theater legend, known for plays like “Death of a Salesman,” “The Crucible”...

Prisons are making new moves to control what books inmates can read

The book “The New Jim Crow,” about the mass incarceration of African Americans, was banned in two New Jersey prisons. But after a challenge by the ACLU, prisoners across the state will be able to read it. NBC News reports that Michelle Alexander's “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age...

PEN Center USA will merge with New York chapter to become PEN America

PEN Center USA, the Los Angeles branch of the literary and human rights organization PEN International and a vital force in the city’s literary community, will join forces with the New York PEN in 2018. The new combined entity will be known as PEN America and will be overseen by Suzanne Nossel...

More print copies of the controversial 'Fire and Fury' are on the way to meet extraordinary demand

The furor over journalist Michael Wolff's bestselling book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” showed no sign of abating, with publisher Henry Holt and Co. rushing to print more copies of the book, and responding to a cease-and-desist letter from President Trump's lawyer on Monday. CNN...

Books: The new Trump book, plus book reviews and news

For book lovers and politics fiends, 2018 has gotten off to a bang with the early publication of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff. Welcome to the new year! I’m Carolyn Kellogg with this week’s books newsletter. THE BIG STORY Excerpts from “Fire and Fury” that appeared...

Jacqueline Woodson will be America's next National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Jacqueline Woodson, the author who won a National Book Award for her young adult memoir “Brown Girl Dreaming,” has been named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. The appointment was announced by the Library of Congress, one of three organizations that selected Woodson, along...

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