Amazon is kicking off the year-end deluge of lists with its 100 best books of 2012.
“WHAT DO YOU DO? If you go to the elder debate and support gay marriage because all members of your village should have the right to a love that’s recognized by the State, close the book now. You will not impress the elders whose support you will so desperately need on your journey. Instead, your bravery will be met by an angry horde who throws you into Deadman’s Bog. If you oppose Zylorg’s marriage until a more politically opportune time — perhaps, after several gay bogmen sitcoms become popular — then congratulations, advance to page 38.” These excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s imagined, dystopian, choose-your-own-adventure YA novel are enlightening.
“In publishing, we see this play out in a number of ways. Marginalized writers are told by white editors, we need your stories now more than ever, as if we have not always needed them urgently. We are told our experiences are timely, exotic, and trendy. We are told our stories are not authentic if our characters do not suffer, as if the only way to prove that we are human is to bleed.” Natalia Sylvester on the erasure that comes when marginalized writers are constantly being told by the publishing industry and others that your book about your marginalized identity is ‘timely’.
Five finalists have been named for this year’s PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction: Daniel Alarcón’s At Night We Walk in Circles, Percival Everett’s Percival Everett by Virgil Russell, Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, (Year in Reading alum) Joan Silber’s Fools, and Valerie Trueblood’s Search Party: Stories of Rescue. One winner will be selected on April 2, 2014, and a celebratory dinner will be held in its honor on May 10. You can read up on all of the finalists over here.
Look, we get it. You’re as sad as the rest of us that Frank Ocean’s new album didn’t actually drop on Friday. Luckily, there’s a fantastic essay over at The Atlantic which examines Ocean in the context of Harper Lee and the myth of the reclusive artist: “Channel Orange, like Mockingbird, is an unapologetic masterpiece for people defining themselves at the intersection of lived experience and possibility.”