The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- The Iranian poet Hashem Shaabani was reportedly executed last month as an "enemy of God," according to human rights groups. Shaabani was a founder of the Dialogue Institute, which promoted Arab culture in Iran. In a statement last week, the human rights group Freedom House condemned the execution, saying: "His judicial murder underscores two important trends in Iran: Violent repression of ethnic minorities, of which Shaabani's execution is only one among many examples, remains government policy. And the government's human rights record has not improved under President Rouhani. During the first two weeks of January, some 40 individuals were executed; Iran is believed to be second only to China in the number of executions." Al-Jazeera adds that Shaabani was reportedly hanged along with another man on Jan. 27 and that, "according to BBC Persian, officials from the Ministry of Information informed the condemned men's families that they had been hanged, and they would be subsequently informed on the location of the men's burial site."
- The Unbearable Lightness of Being author Milan Kundera will publish a book with Harper in fall 2015. According to Publisher's Weekly, the book, The Celebration of Insignificance is "an altogether serious comedy that is the synthesis and culmination of his oeuvre."
The full Wonderland interview with J.K. Rowling – the one that caused such a stir last week when snippets were released — is finally out. In it, Rowling says that, in some ways, she regrets matching Harry Potter characters Ron and Hermione: "It was a young relationship. I think the attraction itself is plausible but the combative side of it. ... I'm not sure you could have got over that in an adult relationship, there was too much fundamental incompatibility. I can't believe we are saying all of this — this is Potter heresy!" Rowling added that, "Oh, maybe she and Ron will be alright with a bit of counseling, you know. I wonder what happens at wizard marriage counseling? They'll probably be fine. He needs to work on his self-esteem issues and she needs to work on being a little less critical."
Lena Dunham's book, Not That Kind of Girl, will come out on Oct. 7. In a note quoted on the book's Amazon page, Dunham writes that, "I'm already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you with this book, but also my future glory in having stopped you from trying an expensive juice cleanse or having the kind of sexual encounter where you keep your sneakers on. No, I am not a sexpert, a psychologist, or a registered dietician. I am not a married mother of three or the owner of a successful hosiery franchise. But I am a girl with a keen interest in self-actualization, sending hopeful dispatches from the front lines of that struggle."
This week's New Yorker features George Packer's 13-page report on the past, present, and future of Amazon: "Amazon's warehouse jobs are gradually being taken over by robots. Bezos recently predicted to a gobsmacked Charlie Rose that, in five years, packages will be delivered by small drones. Then Amazon will have eliminated the human factor from shopping, and we will finally be all alone with our purchases."
Rush Limbaugh's second children's book, Rush Revere and the First Patriots, will come out from Simon & Schuster on March 11th. According to the press release, in the book, the "fearless middle-school history teacher...Rush Revere is transported back to the people and events leading up to the American Revolution."