Lack of Diversity in Romance Novels

The Ripped Bodice (the only bookstore in the United States dedicated solely to romance books) released a report looking at the state of diversity in 2016 romance novels. Last year there were only 7.8 published romance novels by writers of color for every 100 books from 20 major romance publishing companies. "Of particular concern is the suggestion, as revealed by the study, that publishers are not reflecting their readership base with any kind of parity. According to Pew Research, black women with college degrees are more likely to read a book than any other group. Since romance readers are approximately 84 percent female, this suggests there is a large swath of the population who don’t see themselves represented in authors or protagonists." Entertainment Weekly highlights some major takeaways from the survey, read the rest of the appalling stats and then go support romance writers of color.

Lit on YouTube

For Electric Literature Jennifer Baker interviews Yahdon Israel who hosts the weekly literary interview series LIT on Youtube. On his inspiration for starting the show; "I watch a great deal of interviews on the Breakfast Club, James Lipton’s Inside the Actors Studio, Sway in the Morning, Hot 97, Between Two Ferns. And the people who are seldom interviewed are writers. In many ways being Black has taught me to notice what isn’t there. That lens lends itself to what I notice about pop culture: We’re missing from the conversation. Better put: We’re not included. And by “we” I mean writers." Watch the show and subscribe, some interviews include Kaitlyn Greenidge, Claire Messaud, Victor LaValle and Jesmyn Ward.

Toni Morrison Changed the Literary Canon

Read our own Kaila Philo's essay on Toni Morrison's new book The Origin of Others and then pair it with Nell Irvin Painter's reflection on 'Toni Morrison’s Radical Vision of Otherness.' "Morrison’s history of Othering represents an intervention in history on several fronts. Although the theme of desegregating the literary canon reappears in The Origin of Others, times have changed since Playing in the Dark. Surely thanks to the more multicultural, multiracial canon that Morrison helped foster, no respectable version of American literature today omits writers of color."

True Tragedy

“The way this propaganda works is you take something insane and wrap it in a little bit of truth, and then all those people swallow it because it’s wrapped in a little bit of truth.” Columbia Journalism Review talks to the victims of fake news, from Sandy Hook parents to election overseers. Also worth thinking about in this context, the American usage of modern English.

The 7 Habits of Self-Help

“I have learned to consume them in secret, in my own home, reading them the way you would eat a bag of M&M’s that you keep stashed behind the kale chips.” Jake Tobin Garrett for Electric Literature about the allure of self-help books. See also:“Unleashing the Essence of Self-Help Books in Three Simple Steps.”
Curiosities, New Releases

Tuesday New Release Day: Fridlund; Lagioia; Alderman; Keneally; Reid; Oberman; O’Hagan; Oliver

Out this week: Catapult by Emily Fridlund; Ferocity by Nicola Lagioia; The Power by Naomi Alderman; Crimes of the Father by Thomas Keneally; A Scattering and Anniversary by Christopher Reid; The Unstill Ones by Miller Oberman; The Secret Life by Andrew O'Hagan; and Devotions by Mary Oliver. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.

The Crash

“Throughout the Crash, I wrote free-hand, not caring about the style or if something I wrote in the afternoon contradicted something I’d established in the story that morning. The priority was simply to get the ideas surfacing and growing. Awful sentences, hideous dialogue, scenes that went nowhere – I let them remain and ploughed on.” Newly minted Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro on writing The Remains of the Day in four weeks.

Generally Five Stars

“Even weeks after its publication, no one agrees on What Happened and Clinton’s ability to assess her own past. But in post-truth America, the truth that becomes history may well be decided by star-rating.” The Guardian considers how Amazon reviews became the new battlefield of US politics. Namechecked in the piece: Nancy MacLean, whom we interviewed about her new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for Americahere.

The Complete Vonnegut

“It all adds up to a fascinating portrait-of-the-artist-on-the-make in the booming 1950s. And it makes you wish the stories were better.” Year-in-Reading alum Jess Walter reviews a new (911-page) collection of stories by Kurt Vonnegut. See also: “2 B R 0 2 B”, a “lost” Vonnegut story that first appeared in the sci-fi journal Worlds of If in January 1962.

“Sweetbitter” Comes to TV

Stephanie Danler’s best-selling, semi-autobiographical novel, Sweetbitter, has been given the green light by Starz network for a six-episode series. "As she learns the ropes of restaurant work, [Tess] falls for bad-boy bartender Jake, and makes her first forays into wine, drugs, lust, betrayal and adulthood," writes the Los Angeles Times.  Pair with Jason Arthur's essay on novels about work.