Today in books and publishing: Depp to publish "authentic" books; a female version of Holden Caulfield; the First Amendment protects phone books; a Chinese writer receives a prestigious German prize.
Johnny Depp is a publisher now. Johnny Depp is a very literary guy. He even played a writer once in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. And now HarperCollins is more than happy to entrust him with his very own imprint. Called Infinitum Nihil, Depp's project will only trade in the most "authentic, outspoken, and visionary" of books. Book like Douglas Brinkley's The Unraveled Tales of Bob Dylan, coming in 2015. It will also print Woody Guthrie's unpublished novel House of Earth, which Brinkley and Depp wrote about in The New York Times Book Review recently. "We will do our best to deliver publications worthy of people's time, of people's concern," Depp writes in a statement. "Publications that might ordinarily never have breached the parapet." [USA Today]
Holden Caulfield returns. Who does The Catcher in the Rye's narrator belong to? J.D. Salinger's estate predictably argues that Holden Caulfield belongs to them and them alone. But is there ever a point when characters like Caulfield become so widely read, so intertwined with pop culture writ large, that they start to belong to everyone? Y.A. author Mary O'Connell thinks she has some claim to the character, because she's using Salinger's creation as the protagonist of her first novel for adults, In the Rye. In this story, Caulfield is a female high school senior who sets out to find her literature teacher who vanished somewhere in Manhattan. Amy Einhorn Books will publish the book, but not without some pushback. John David California was prevented from publishing his book 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye by the Salinger estate's lawyers in 2009. [The New York Times]
Chinese exile awarded prestigious Frankfurt Book Fair award. Fresh off the announcement of Chinese novelist Mo Yan's Nobel, the German Booksellers' and Publishers' Association has announced a very different type of Chinese author as their recipient of this year's German Book Trade Peace Prize. Liao Yiwu has no kind words for Yan (a "state poet," in his words) or China, which he calls an "inhuman empire with bloody hands." Yiwu is famous for the Tiananmen Square protest poem "Massacre," which landed him four years in prison. After getting out he escaped China by walking to Vietnam, eventually settling in Germany. The German Book Trade Peace Prize is considered the country's second most prestigious award after the Georg Büchner Prize, and is presented at the world's largest book expo, the Frankfurt Book Fair. Previous winners include Orhan Pamuk, Vaclav Havel and Peter Esterhazy. The Corpse Walker, The Fall of the Holy Temple, and Yiwu's other books are banned in China. [The Local]
Phone books exercise freedom of the press. So much for San Francisco's plan to ban unwanted deliveries of the Yellow Pages. Three judges of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals have struck down a similar ordinance in Seattle requiring phone book publishers to obtain permits before dumping the heavy tomes on doorsteps. Letting people opt out of receiving phone books is unconstitutional, the judges ruled. The judges get that no one with an Internet connection wants these books anymore, but they say that preventing their distribution would come at the expense of free speech. "Times have changed, and today phone books, like land-line telephones themselves, are not so universally accepted," Judge Richard R. Clifton writes. "The 1st Amendment does not make protection contingent on the perceived value of certain speech." Rejoice, bros everywhere! Your supply of fresh phone books is safe, meaning you'll get to keep impressing gullible people with your favorite party trick. [Los Angeles Times]
Booker Prize announcement coming today. Tune into this BBC News live stream at 5:30 EST to find out the winner of this year's Booker Prize. Will Self and Hilary Mantel are the favorites, but critics are rooting for underdogs Jeet Thayil, Sarah Crown, Alison Moore, and Tan Twan Eng. If Mantel gets the award, she'll be the first woman and the first Brit to win the Booker twice. [BBC]