You may know that The Butter founder Roxane Gay had a banner year in 2014. The Year in Reading alum published a collection of essays and her debut novel. At Salon, she talks with Sara Scribner, sharing her thoughts on modern feminism, Lena Dunham and her plans for her next book.
The University of California Press is updating its e-books collection, adding new titles all the time, and allowing the general public to access over 770 titles published between 1982 and 2004. The full collection can be found over here, and Open Culture highlights some of the gems within the treasure trove.
In more “Dylan at 70” news, the knowledgeable Ed Ward reviews the compilation How Many Roads: Black America Sings Bob Dylan for The Oxford American. (Editor’s Note: The omission from this album of Nina Simone‘s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” and Ben E. King‘s “Lay Lady Lay” are both unconscionable.)
Recommended recommendations: The Airship has rounded up the best recent additions to Project Gutenberg, the online collection of free digitized books.
Claire Vaye Watkins’s essay on pandering has gotten a lot of responses, including one from Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James. Over at NPR, they discuss the issues of sexism and racism in publishing, cultural ventriloquism, narrative authority, and more.
Not only does China employ some two million censors to monitor microblogs and the internet, but the nation also has a formidable staff – both official and unofficial – to monitor literature and print publications. Indeed, reports Andrew Jacobs for The New York Times, “It is the editors at Chinese publishing houses themselves who often turn out to have the heaviest hands. ‘Self-censorship has become the most effective weapon,’ said the editor in chief of a prominent publishing house in Beijing … ‘If you let something slip through that catches the attention of a higher-up, it can be a career killer.’”
This past Wednesday Tracy K. Smith officially began her term as the new U.S. Poet Laureate. After adding her name to the guest book traditionally signed by poet laureates upon the start of their one year term, she read aloud from previously published poetry collections and introduced new work. Ron Charles from the Washington Post reports “[a]mong her most powerful new pieces were ‘found poems’ constructed from archival letters that African American veterans sent to President Lincoln asking for pensions they were owed.” Smith is the first poet laureate appointed by the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. Stay tuned for her upcoming efforts to engage rural communities in poetry discussions.