Penelope Fitzgerald has been getting a lot of attention lately, largely due to Hermione Lee‘s newest biography. In an article for the Paris Review, Bridget Read considers the impact a better understanding of Fitzgerald’s life could have on her modern reputation, and argues that “it is not extraordinary that she became a prize-winning novelist, though you may have heard otherwise. … It is vital to emphasize that Fitzgerald’s novels were not achieved in spite of her domestic life; they were borne directly out of it. Her work is radical in that it suggests that, in fact, a feminine experience, a liminal experience, might be better equipped than a male one to address the contradictions of human existence taken up by the greatest literature.”
“On the level of narrative possibility, I was really drawn to the sense of aloneness that rose from so many of these images—the terrifying possibility of being the last person left on earth, or even the last person left in a neighborhood, a swamp, a freeway. That stark haunting irony of living in a world of excess that has eventually collapsed on itself, emptied out.” Guernica interviews Leslie Jamison and Ryan Spencer for their new collaboration, Such Mean Estate.
Though traditionally a cultural staple, Irish poetry’s popularity has been on the decline for some time now. The best way to reignite public interest? A contest, of course, and Seamus Heaney just won. His sonnet “When all the others were away at Mass” was voted “Ireland’s best-loved poem written over the past 100 years.”
“Bertelsmann’s 7% decline in 2016 revenue was due entirely to a drop in sales at Penguin Random House. The lack of a big new bestseller hurt results at the company, and it divested some smaller divisions in the year.” For those interested in inside baseball, Publishers Weekly takes a look at how the world’s 50 largest publishers are faring. (TL;dr: Although their total revenue topped $50 billion, more than half of the list’s publishers reported sales declines – oh, and Harry Potter still really, really sells). As a counterpoint to all that capitalism, read our own Edan Lepucki‘s survey of self-published authors.
Ted Thompson, whose novel The Land of Steady Habits was released earlier this year, writes for Salon about his experience publishing his first book. Pair with this conversation between our own Bill Morris and Edan Lepucki, who both have novels coming out this month.