Congratulations are in order for Vanessa Veselka: PEN American has awarded her debut novel Zazen the Robert W. Bingham Prize. I first heard about the novel last year, from what was then the brand-spanking-new LARB, though this Minnesota Public Radio profile of Veselka is also a great way to get acquainted with her exciting talents.
Stephen King’s next book is a thriller set in a Midwestern town suffering from unemployment. Before this sounds a little too close to home, the synopsis reveals it’s about a retired cop trying to stop a mass murderer. Mr. Mercedes will be out June 3rd. Pair with: Our own Lydia Kiesling’s essay on her love of King novels.
The finalists for the John Leonard Prize — for a first book in any genre — were announced by the National Book Critics Circle. This year’s finalists are Lesley Nneka Arimah‘s What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Julie Buntin‘s Marlena, Zinzi Clemmons’ What We Lose, Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas, Carmen Maria Machado‘s Her Body and Other Parties, and Gabriel Tallent‘s My Absolute Darling. The winner will be announced in January. Pair with: Buntin’s 2017 Year in Reading entry.
“Writers are not often great lovers but pathological inventors of explanations. Sex induces a kind of cowardice in them, a fear of experimentation, of being vulnerable, of stepping naked onto the stage to examine all the presumptions that pass without question when everyone still has their pants on.” Michael Thomsen makes the case that dating writers is a bad idea.
The New York Times dives into why prisons fear the New Jim Crow certain states have gone to great efforts to allow their prisons to ban it and in other states it’s fairly difficult to obtain if you’re a prisoner. We’re big fans of the New Jim Crow here; it was a Millions staff pick and extremely popular on Year in Reading lists back in 2013.
After passing through the House, a new bill establishing a four-year term limit for the state’s Poet Laureates is set to reach the Florida governor’s desk in the near future. The Sunshine State has been without a Poet Laureate since Edmund Skellings died in 2012.