Annalisa Quinn

Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.

Quinn studied English and Classics at Georgetown University and holds an M.Phil in Classical Greek from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Cambridge Trust scholar.

In 1997, Emily Nussbaum was a PhD student at NYU, studying literature and "foggily planning on becoming a professor," when an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer changed her life.

At the turn of this century, television was still considered unserious, "a disposable product, like a Dixie Cup," Nussbaum writes. It was also bad for you — in "the much-quoted (although possibly apocryphal) words of nineties comic Bill Hicks," it was "a spiritually harmful act, like 'taking black spray paint to your third eye.'"

As the most visible reporter to regularly spar with the president, CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta is a disputed icon.

President Trump has called Acosta a "rude, terrible person" and "fake news." To many on the right, he represents deep media bias; to some on the left, he represents media pushback against Trump's frequent lies. In his daily life, he is subject to near-constant abuse, insults and threats — along with some praise and a lot of selfie requests.

"In truth, no one expects any kind of story from a woman like me," writes the narrator of Sara Collins' intricate gothic novel, The Confessions of Frannie Langton. "Like me" means a former slave from Jamaica, awaiting trial for the brutal murder of her new employers.

Long considered fringe, the right wing radio host Mark Levin has had a few good years: He picked up a weekly Fox News show ("Life, Liberty & Levin"); he counts conservative political commentator Sean Hannity as his best friend; and the president recently tweeted in support of his new book, "Word is out that book is GREAT!"

"Sometime in the last few years," American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis writes in White, his aggrieved new book about political correctness, he began feeling a near-constant sense of "disgust and frustration that was all due to the foolishness of other people."

"We're your oldest friend, your ancient enemy ..." warn the chorus of Namwali Serpell's lush speculative novel The Old Drift.

Can you guess who they are? "We're perfectly matched ..." they say. "We're both useless, ubiquitous species. But while you all rule the earth and destroy it for kicks, we linger and loaf, unsung heroes. We've been around here as long as you have — for eons before, say the fossils."

The scene could have come from a novel: an unlocked door, a screaming maid, and an "unobtrusive minor aristocrat" lying in bed with his throat cut.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were once seen as moderating influences within the White House. A new book by longtime Vanity Fair journalist Vicky Ward, Kushner, Inc., portrays them instead as coiffed agents of chaos — lying, scamming and backstabbing their way through Donald Trump's Washington.

"Everyone knows there is a good Jill and a bad Jill."

In her new book, Merchants of Truth, Jill Abramson writes that this is what New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said to her before he gave her the job of executive editor in 2011.

The Water Cure, a tart, uncanny debut novel by Sophie Mackintosh, is an unlikely thought experiment that asks: What if men were literally as well as figuratively toxic?

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