Carve out some time today, and let Evan Smith Rakoff show you how a wonderful essay about Andy Griffith can also be about Robert Burns, William Shakespeare, John Keats, ambition, nostalgia, the Hollywood blacklist, class, and grief.
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.
Boston Review’s Aura Estrada Short Story Contest is underway. This year’s submissions will be judged by What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank author (as well as Year in Reading contributor) Nathan Englander, and the victor will earn a $1,500 prize as well as publication.
Independent publisher Melville House worked straight through December to publish the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture in time for the New Year. Now co-founder Dennis Johnson talks with Vulture about why his press decided to publish the book at all, and about the varied moral and practical concerns at stake when working on such a project.
Over at Catapult, Benjamin Wood writes about his eulogy for his grandfather, which led to his writing of The Ecliptic. As he puts it, “Or maybe, in this time of grieving, I was thinking only with my heart until my head began to listen. Today, it seems as though the entirety of The Ecliptic was held within my consciousness before I ever glimpsed a piece of it, and grief was what enabled me to notice.” Pair with Nagihan Haliloğlu’s Millions review of the novel.