For the first time ever, this year’s National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” winners are all women. Congrats to Molly Antopol (The UnAmericans), NoViolet Bulawayo (We Need New Names, which was also just shortlisted for The Booker Prize), Amanda Coplin (The Orchardist), Daisy Hildyard (Hunters in the Snow), and Merritt Tierce (Love Me Back).
“Now, I’m not going to lie. It’s annoying, to have to take time out of my incredibly busy writing schedule in order to spell it all out for young people, just because they spend most of their daylight hours being urged by hoary old theorists in threadbare sweaters to write experimental fiction that will never sell. But I care deeply about the young—all of them, the world’s young—so of course I am humbled and honored to share the trade secrets embedded in my rigorous daily work schedule.” Heather Havrilesky on her writing life.
Over at Salon, Joel Whitney explains how The Paris Review worked with the CIA and “served, in part, as a covert international weapon of soft power.” While the possibility is certainly tantalizing, it’s necessary to read Whitney’s article alongside Carolyn Kellogg’s piece in the LA Times, which notes how “the threads of the article … become unsupportably tenuous” as it carries on.
A startling conclusion from this data visualization of where in words each letter of the alphabet tends to fall: “the most common word may be ‘the, but the most representative word is ‘toe.’ ” (Also available: detailed methodology and algorithms for the data geeks; an explanation of data-viz as a narrative form for everyone else.)
It has become increasingly common for publications to charge a fee upon submitting work. According to The Atlantic, this practice spells disaster for the writing community at every level. Quit paying out to big journals and just charge yourself the fee instead–here’s a piece on the efficacy of self-publishing.
“I have come to realize how much I have, throughout my life, bought into the narrative of this alluring myth of personal responsibility and excellence. I realize how much I believe that all good things will come if I—if we—just work hard enough.” Year in Reading alum Roxane Gay writes for VQR Online about “The Price of Black Ambition.” Pair with our review of An Untamed State.