Category Archives: Books

That College Cheating Scandal and My New Novel ‘Around Harvard Square’

Yale Peabody Museum
Yale Peabody Museum

I saw all over the news today that an FBI sting codenamed “Varsity Blues” resulted in a slew of Hollywood actors, CEOs and others being charged in a multimillion dollar college entrance scheme. According to the various reports I read, wealthy parents allegedly paid off coaches and administrators to identify their kids as athletes and bribed others to take tests, all as part of a plot to get their children into places like Yale and Stanford.

John Bonavolonta, FBI special agent in charge, was quoted by NBC News as saying “We believe everyone charged here today had a role in fostering a culture of corruption and greed that created an uneven playing field for students trying to get into these schools the right way through hard work, good grades and community service.”

My novel “Around Harvard Square” is about many of the same things–the cutthroat competition to get into top colleges, suspicious admissions practices, corrupt rich folks pulling strings to give their kids unfair advantages when they apply to elite schools. As one character says near the end of my novel “But admissions people know that the worst students elite college admit are the legacies, children of millionaires and billionaires.”

I don’t think truth is stranger than fiction, but it certainly is weird when the two collide.

‘Around Harvard Square’ is Coming to Harvard Book Store

AroundHarvardSquarecoverAround Harvard Square” is coming to Harvard!

I’ll be discussing my new novel at Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138 on April 30, at 7pm. The store is right across the street from Harvard Yard.

I started writing “Around Harvard Square” when I was a freshman at Harvard and now I’m bringing the finished book back to where it began. It only took 30 years or so.

For more details you can visit the Harvard Book Store website.

“Around Harvard Square” is available for pre-order right now!

I Join the Tech Revolution at Amazon Inc.’s Audible

42478969_10156819770367608_8552965862863142912_nI’ve left my post as a senior editor at the Wall Street Journal–I’m now an Executive Editor at Amazon Inc.’s Audible! I’m working with actors, entertainers, comedians, celebrities, public intellectuals, journalists, screenwriters, authors and others to create original audio content. It’s all very exciting stuff!

I also have a new novel coming out, “Around Harvard Square,” due out April 1, 2019. More about that later!

‘Around Harvard Square’ and the Harvard Lampoon

Sketch by Susan Arena.
Sketch by Susan Arena.

I just watched a “60 Minutes” segment about the Harvard Lampoon. Part of the segment dealt with the fact that women and people of color haven’t been very well represented in the ranks of Harvard Lampoon staffers and on the roster of comedy TV shows. That’s one of the themes of my upcoming novel, “Around Harvard Square,” about a Jamaican-American freshman competing to get on the staff of a certain Ivy League humor magazine. Erich Segal called my book “the funniest book about Harvard since ‘Love Story,’ or at least he might have said that if “Love Story” were a comedy and if Segal hadn’t died in 2010. I also think John Updike and George Plimpton would have totally agreed with Segal about my book if not for that same they died years ago problem.  Anyhoo, you can read the book next year and judge for yourself. Comedy is never having to say you’re sorry.

‘Around Harvard Square’ by C.J. Farley Coming on Akashic Books in 2019

EmmaLampoonMy new novel “Around Harvard Square” is set to be published by Akashic Books in 2019!

Here’s how it was described on GoodReads and Publishers Lunch: “a satirical novel about a Jamaican-American freshman and his misfit international friends who compete against ridiculous odds to join the staff of Harvard University’s legendary humor magazine, in a story exploring race and class, sex and philosophy, collegiate pranks and Ivy League secrets.”

Back in the day, I was an editor at the Harvard Lampoon. I’m not saying it’s about the Harvard Lampoon, but I’m not not saying it’s about the Harvard Lampoon.

More to come!

‘Forged in Crisis’ Author Nancy Koehn Dines with the Wall Street Journal

I had a great interview last week with Harvard Business School professor Nancy Koehn, author of “Forged in Crisis,” as part of the Wall Street Journal’s C-Suite Book Club series. “Forged” is a really fascinating book about how various leaders, from Frederick Douglass to Rachel Carson, coped with turbulent times and what we can learn from them.

Here I am with author Nancy Koehn at New York's Bouley Botanical, the restaurant that hosed my C-Suite Book Club event.
Here I am with author Nancy Koehn at New York’s Bouley Botanical, the restaurant that hosted my C-Suite Book Club event.

My Interview with Nobel Prize Winner Kazuo Ishiguro

Novelist Kazuo Ishiguro just won the Nobel Prize for Literature and back in 2015 he stopped by the Wall Street Journal to talk to me for a video interview. Our discussion was a wide-ranging one, covering his new fantasy-influenced book “The Buried Giant” as well as his classic novel “The Remains of the Day.” You can watch clips from the interview below.
Ishiguro on his storytelling influences:

Ishiguro on “The Remains of the Day”:

Ishiguro in conversation at the WSJ Cafe in London:

Ishiguro reads from his work:

Andrew McAfee on the Future of Artificial Intelligence

McAfee1 I had an on-stage discussion for The Wall Street Journal with author and MIT research scientist Andrew McAfee about artificial intelligence, the future of work, and his new book “Machine Platform Crowd” at Daniel restaurant in New York City. The talk took place on September 28, and the audience featured C-Suite executives who seemed particularly interested in how AI might affect the quality and quantity of jobs available to their workers in the future.