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Book News: George R.R. Martin Rails Against Sony's 'Corporate Cowardice'

Games of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin
Kevin Winter
Getty Images
Games of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin

The daily lowdown on books, publishing and the occasional author behaving badly.

Never one to mince words, George R.R. Martin has lately saved some of his strongest language for Sony Pictures. Using his blog as a platform, the Game of Thrones author has let loose a week-long volley of criticism against the studio and several movie theater chains for canceling the release of The Interview, following anonymous threats of violence.

"The level of corporate cowardice here astonishes me," Martin wrote in a post Wednesday, the first of several. "Whether it's the next CITIZEN KANE or the next PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, it astonishes me that a major Hollywood film could be killed before release by threats from a foreign power and anonymous hackers."

In the days that followed, Martin repeatedly coupled this criticism with offers to screen the film at his own theater, the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, N.M. In a post published in the wee hours Monday, Martin added: "I have been in communication with the owners and operators of other independent cinemas and arthouses, and representatives of some of the smaller [movie theater] chains, and I know that hundreds of these venues would gladly screen this film, if only Sony will make it available."

On NBC's Meet the Press, however, Sony attorney David Boies offered a defense that may placate critics like Martin. "Sony has been fighting to get this picture distributed. It will be distributed," Boies said. "How it's going to be distributed, I don't think anybody knows quite yet, but it's going to be distributed."

When The Mighty Tell-All Fell: The celebrity memoir has had a rough year in the U.K., according to numbers just published by Nielsen BookScan. The Guardian reports that "sales in the autobiographies and memoirs genre were down almost 4% compared with 2013," with big names such as Hillary Clinton and Julian Assange posting relatively disappointing sales. Readers have apparently grown tired of the celebrity tell-all books.

The drop has resonated deeply with at least one publisher. Charlie Redmayne, CEO of HarperCollins U.K., told the London Evening Standard, "We're moving away from big celebrity hit-and-miss stuff."

A Bad Seed's Book Of Words: As a young man, author and musician Nick Cave kept a dictionary of his own, scrawling words in black and blue pen across unlined journal pages. Now, you can see some of those pages for yourself. GalleyCat points to the website Dangerous Minds, where you can take a gander at some of Cave's favorite words.

Nobel's Swap At The Top: There's been a bit of a stir in the land of the Nobel. The Complete Review reports that Peter Englund will be stepping down as the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature each year. According to the site, Sara Danius will take up Englund's position later this year, which means we can expect to see a fresh face behind the podium announcing next year's recipient.

Flipping Ahead

New in print (and screen)

When photographer Diana Matar's father-in-law disappeared years ago, she had little doubt about the reason why. Jaballa Matar had been a Libyan opposition leader living in exile in Egypt, and she's sure he was delivered to the regime of now-ousted President Moammar Gadhafi. Matar responded to that loss the best way she knew how, embarking on a six-year project to photograph the sites where Gadhafi regime imprisoned and tortured its victims. Paired with notes from her diary over this period, Matar's photographs are now seeing release as a book called Evidence, a compelling visual record of how absences — when accumulated — can sway an entire country's history. Not long ago, Matar spoke with the Middle East Monitor about the project, and she features a number of the photographs on her website.

Rep. Steve Israel, a Democratic congressman from New York, is publishing his debut novel, a parody called The Global War on Morris. The comedy follows a hapless nobody named Morris Feldstein, who stumbles into a web of government antiterrorism programs. Kirkus Reviews isn't exactly sold on the book, however: "Israel has fun with the bureaucratic side of national security but offers few surprises, while his political jabs are rather flat and facile, and, after all, a decade late."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.