We cover a decent number of literary awards here at The Millions, but we, like most magazines, have a tendency to focus on the present. At the LARB, Andrew Nicholls makes up for this by recounting the very first book awards, in which Mooluu’s “The Beast Attacked” goes head-to-head with Kurtan the Elder’s “Why Half My Face is Missing.” You could also read our own Mark O’Connell on why we care about literary prizes to begin with.
As Kevin Jackson notes in Prospect Magazine, Edgar Allan Poe differs from many of his contemporary American authors in that he's often treated with "a hint of condescension and a splash of pity somewhere in the mix" by modern English students. And yet his influence perseveres. He is, after all, the only author with an NFL namesake. And he's apparently huge in France. So what gives?
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.
"For a novelist, writing letters is writing that is not writing," Ed Park says of P.G. Wodehouse's collected correspondence, A Life in Letters. The Year in Reading alum goes on to note that "a collection of letters is the unconscious narrative the author generates over the years."
A new study out of Stony Brook University employs a complex statistical model to figure out what makes a book successful. Judging books on the basis of Amazon sales, awards won and Project Gutenberg downloads, the scientists determined that successful books have a higher-than-average ratio of self-references, prepositions and coordinating conjunctions. Unsuccessful books, on the other hand? A high ratio of adverbs and location markers.
“I started keeping a journal when I was eight, but even before then I was a kid who loved making long lists of everything I could see or remember. Coconut, tricycle, jeepney, air freshener, I would write, for example, and my lists would lengthen and become even more specific as I grew to know the world around me. […] Reading and writing always seemed a part of my life and identity.” For The Rumpus, Swati Khurana interviews Janine Joseph about writing poems as teenagers, writing from experience, and what it meant for Joseph to “come out” as an undocumented immigrant.