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Book News: Museum, Kelly Clarkson Vie For Jane Austen's Ring

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

  • An anonymous donor has given £100,000 (about $155,000) to Jane Austen's House Museum in its effort to buy back the author's gold and turquoise ring from American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, who got it at auction for £152,450 (about $235,700) last year. After Clarkson purchased the ring, British culture minister Ed Vaizey issued a temporary export ban in the hopes that a British buyer would be found and the artifact would stay in the country. Austen had given the ring to her sister Cassandra, and it stayed in the family until it was sold at auction. The museum has until December to match what Clarkson paid. Museum fundraiser Louise West told The Associated Press that "it is very good for Jane Austen PR that a young, famous American pop star expresses a love for her."
  • Salman Rushdie describes the famously reclusive novelist Thomas Pynchon while speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival: "Thomas Pynchon looks exactly like Thomas Pynchon should look. He is tall, he wears lumberjack shirts, and blue jeans. He has Albert Einstein white hair and Bugs Bunny front teeth."
  • The novelist Jane Vandenburgh has written an open letter to New York Review of Books editor Robert Silvers about the magazine's most recent issue, which features a stunning lack of female reviewers and authors. She writes: "Really? the only female 'author' the NYRB exhibits any interest in this time is the unfortunate Amanda Knox, where the theme of the review seems to be which lines are this poor girl's and which belong to her work-for-hire ghostwriter?"
  • Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has a book deal for an as-yet untitled book coming out in the fall of next year, Ballantine books announced Monday. In a statement, the senator said, "I am incredibly excited about this opportunity to expand on the work I have been doing through my Off the Sidelines initiative, encouraging all women — whether they're in the halls of government, executive boardrooms and corner offices or attending local government meetings, PTA meetings and even neighborhood gatherings — to make their voices heard." Political memoirs can be gateways to presidential runs, but Gillibrand has said she supports Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.
  • In Granta's travel issue, Jamal Mahjoub describes being stuck in Djenné, Mali:
    "The car sat in the square. It looked as though it might have been left there by an alien race visiting from another planet. I watched the dust blow little eddies around the bald tyres as evening, once more, began to fall. I thought about the lizards that awaited me back at the hotel."
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