Author Archive for Mark Athitakis

Philip Roth Will Not Speak at National Book Festival, Says Library of Congress

Philip Roth (Portnoy's Complaint, American Pastoral) was one of the biggest names on the National Book Festival's lineup when the schedule was revealed in May. But Roth's name is now conspicuously absent from the fest's website.
Library of Congress spokesperson Gayle Osterberg confirms it's not a mistake. "Unfortunately Philip Roth is now not able to attend," she [...]

Gore Vidal, 1925-2012

Gore Vidal—novelist, essayist, contrarian of the pre-Slate-contrarianism era, source of Michelle Bachmann's conservative awakening, squabbler with Norman Mailer, squabbler with William F. Buckley, squabbler with Christopher Hitchens, squabbler with most interviewers in his later years, gay literature pioneer, failed political candidate, screenwriter, author of the novel that inspired what's considered by many to be among [...]

The National Book Festival Is Four Months Away. Get Cracking.

Yesterday the Library of Congress disclosed the long list of authors who are scheduled to appear at this year’s National Book Festival. For the second straight year it’ll run for two days, Sept. 22 and 23, bringing big names in fiction (mass-market and literary), history, YA, graphic novels, poetry, children’s books, and more to the [...]

“Like a Hidden Track on a CD”: A Conversation With Tania James

More evidence of globalization at work: Novelist and short-story writer Tania James lives in D.C., but her most recent publication is a story about two brothers from Lahore, India, and it was published in the new, England-themed issue of Granta. That story, "Lion and Panther in London," is also included in her first story collection, [...]

Five New-Age Picks From Chris Richards

Previewing Glide, Chris Richards' new-age DJ night at Cafe Saint-Ex, gave me a chance to make two points about the genre. First, you can argue that the music is a home-grown development, with roots in the guitar style John Fahey developed in Takoma Park. (For more on that, check out David Dunlap Jr.'s stellar [...]

New Grit: Optimistic Noir in George Pelecanos’ What It Was

What It Was, the 18th novel by D.C. crime novelist George Pelecanos, is priced to move. The trade paperback costs what a typical ebook does ($9.99), and the ebook is priced like one of the Funkadelic and Stylistics tunes that bubble under the plot: Ninety-nine cents if you buy it within a month of its Jan. [...]

Six Great Works of Short Fiction From 2011

Short-story collections have a way of getting, er, short shrift when top-10 season rolls around. In part that's because they have to meet an impossible standard: A novel is usually obligated to sustain only one tone and a handful of themes across its pages, while the short-story writer has to play with multiple tones and [...]

Scenes From Day 2 of the National Book Festival

Every author who speaks at the National Book Festival enjoys an extra benefit onstage, one that doesn't come with the typical reading or appearance. No, on the National Mall, each author gets a straight man—somebody who has to stay poker-faced while the writer gets to crack wise. In this case, the straight men are the [...]

Scenes From Day 1 of the National Book Festival

The organizers of the National Book Festival, now in its 11th year, know how to draw a crowd early. The fest has typically slated the biggest names for the opening slots, and on Saturday tents filled at 10 a.m. for PBS anchor/novelist Jim Lehrer, longtime Post columnist Eugene Robinson, and Nobel-winning novelist Toni Morrison, who [...]

The National Book Festival’s Supersize Lineup

This week the Library of Congress announced the names of many of the authors scheduled to appear at this year’s National Book Festival. As usual, it’s a high-wattage lineup that includes Jennifer Egan (whose A Visit From the Goon Squad has won a host of fiction awards in the past year), Toni Morrison, Dave Eggers, [...]