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Book News: Amazon Fires German Security Firm After Claims Of Intimidation

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

  • Amazon announced Monday that it has fired a German security company amid accusations that seasonal warehouse workers had been intimidated and harassed. In a documentary aired last week by a German TV station, foreign temporary workers claimed that guards from Hensel European Security Services (HESS) would frisk them and search their rooms. Footage also showed some guards wearing clothing made by Thor Steinar, a brand strongly associated with the neo-Nazi movement in Germany.
  • Haruki Murakami's Japanese publisher says the author of Kafka on the Shore and longtime front-runner for the Nobel Prize in Literature will publish a new novel in April. (In Japanese, that is — the rest of us will have to wait for a translation.)
  • Today in literary infographics: Young Adult heroines are mostly shy, plucky virgins with poor self-esteem and brown hair.
  • Atonement author Ian McEwan on fiction: "Like a late victorian clergyman sweating in the dark over his Doubts, I have moments when my faith in fiction falters and then comes to the edge of collapse."
  • The New York Times reports that short stories are on the rise and are a "Good Fit for Today's Little Screens." Although the Times' story isn't on par with the 2008 classic, "It's No Boo-Boo: Bandages As Fashion Accessories," it has all the makings of an egregious trend piece. Can we get some data, please?

The Best Books Coming Out This Week:

  • In the memoir After Visiting Friends, author Michael Hainey searches for the truth about his father's death.
  • Nothing Gold Can Stay by Ron Rash is a collections of short stories set in Appalachia, NPR's Scott Simon calls it "pointed, fierce, funny and tightly packed."
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NPR

A Sense Of Self: What Happens When Your Brain Says You Don't Exist

In his new book, The Man Who Wasn't There, Anil Ananthaswamy examines the ways people think of themselves — and how those perceptions can be distorted by certain brain conditions.
NPR

Squeezed By Drought, California Farmers Switch To Less Thirsty Crops

Water scarcity is leading farmers away from planting staples and towards planting higher-value, lower-water specialty crops. Think wine grapes and pomegranates instead of citrus and avocados.
WAMU 88.5

Obama's Trip To Africa & Foreign Aid

By visiting Africa this month, President Obama is drawing attention to one of the diplomatic tools that most directly shapes America's relationships with other countries: foreign aid and assistance. But now all policy makers at home feel the United States is pursuing the soundest strategy when it comes to providing aid abroad. We explore the issue with the official in charge of the Africa portfolio for the United States Agency for International Development.

NPR

As Twitter Flirts With Hearts, Will You Miss The Stars?

A different Twitter greeted some users when they logged on Tuesday as the social media company tries to win more hearts — and users.

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