The New Yorker magazine, which has always provided top-notch literary content and coverage, relaunched its online books offerings Tuesday (or, for those of us who stumbled across the change, Monday night).
It's got a spiffy books landing page, and its active book blog, the Book Bench, has been renamed Page-Turner. The blog has a new pink-and-red logo, of a reader surrounded by books, that appears on its rebranded Twitter feed. Page-Turner editor Sasha Weiss explains what to expect of the blog:
We'll debate about books under-noticed or too much noticed, and celebrate writers we've returned to again and again. We'll look to works in translation and at the politics of literary scenes beyond the English-speaking world. We'll think about technology and the reading life. We'll recommend and we'll theorize. Daily essays will be the blog's mainstay, with books as an anchor for wide-ranging cultural comment.
The blog is staking out its elite territory by bringing some of the magazine's star contributors into the mix. The opening two days' sirocco of literary goodness included Salman Rushdie on censorship, Giles Harvey critiquing "Death of a Salesman," Ryan Bloom's corrective translation of the first sentence of Camus' "The Stranger," Nick Thompson on running, and Mary Norris from the magazine's copy desk on an obsolete medieval alphabetic character.
When the blog launched in 2008 as the Book Bench, it was named for the place where books up for grabs piled up in the magazine's hallway. There was a scrappiness to it, of ideas caught on the fly, and often wrangled by people whose names didn't appear on the contributor page. But the work of co-founder Macy Halford made the blog and Twitter feed essential parts of the ongoing online discussion of books and media. Halford's reach stretches beyond the world of books; she was named one of the New York Observer's 50 media power bachelorettes in 2011.
That's a strong tradition, one that I hope the newly branded blog continues.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Image: Screenshot of the New Yorker's Page-Turner book blog.