Books: Hillary Clinton, National Book Award contenders, Demetri Martin and more

Welcome! To get things started, Salman Rushdie sat down and gave us a preview of how his thinking about Donald Trump played into his new novel, “The Golden House.” Join us with Rushdie on Sunday at our event at the Ace Hotel.


This week saw the publication of Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened,” her memoir of the 2016 presidential campaign. “If you’re looking for a takeaway beyond the soundbites,” writes David L. Ulin in our review, “you’ll have to read deep into the book.” Then he quotes Clinton: “At first, I had intended to keep relatively quiet…. But these weren’t ordinary times, and Trump wasn’t an ordinary president.”


The literary awards season cranked into high gear this week with a series of announcements. Four came from the National Book Award, one a day for the 10-book longlist in each category: nonfiction, fiction, poetry and young adult literature. Of special note to fans of Southern California writers: Two make their first appearances in contention for these prestigious awards, Robin Benway (in YA) and Charmaine Craig (in fiction). The prizes will be held Nov. 15 in New York.

Additionally, this week the Man Booker Prize announced its shortlist, winnowing from 13 titles down to six. With a prize of about $66,000, the Man Booker is one of the world’s most coveted fiction awards and is only in its third year of allowing American writers into its mix. Three of them — George Saunders, Paul Auster and newcomer Emily Fridlund — hold half the spots. Here’s our analysis.


Marking its second week on our fiction bestseller list, at No. 9, is “The Room of White Fire” by T. Jefferson Parker. Parker’s new mystery features a private investigator in San Diego — who used to be a Marine and, before that, a cop — who is asked to find a veteran who’s gone missing.

More stories:

In his prescient book “World Without Mind,” Franklin Foer, former editor of the New Republic, looks at the power Facebook, Google and other tech giants have to shape our world in ways we rarely see. Steve Zeitchik has our review.

Mark Lilla’s book “The Once and Future Liberal” is a scathing critique of the left. Newsweek’s Alexander Nazaryan reviews.

A poem, says Matthew Zapruder, is “something allusive or complex that’s being communicated, or attempted to be communicated, in the simplest way possible, which sometimes isn’t that simple.” His book is “Why Poetry”; read our interview.

Good news from Florida: Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West — and its famous six-toed cats — were spared by Hurricane Irma.

“Seven Days of Heroin,” a stunning work of journalism from the Cincinnati Enquirer, compiles the work of 60 reporters and photographers to chronicle the opioid epidemic in action. Its powerful online presentation is not to be missed.

Reynolds Price wrote his best-known work, the novel “Kate Vaiden,” in the 1980s; he taught at Duke University for decades. After he died in 2011, a friend and photographer took pictures of the Southern writer’s eclectic home for a new book, “Dream of a House,” which pairs his writing with the spaces he left behind. Take a look.

Comedian Demetri Martin has a new book of his one-panel illustrations. He plays with the idea that no one is quite sure what to call them — the book’s title is “If It’s Not Funny It’s Art.” He answered most of Agatha French’s questions in the traditional way, on the telephone, but he did a drawing as response to one. You can see it here in our interview.


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