Year in Reading alumnus Alexander Chee writes about the impulse to write fiction, his first novel, and unpublished manuscripts in an essay for the Center For Fiction’s Why Fiction Matters series. “The first story I ever invented for public consumption was in a book report back in grade school. I had made a vow to read every book in my grade school library, and at some point, as I made my way through them, I remember very clearly understanding that there was simply no way my teacher would know about every book ever published—this was before the Internet—and so I decided I would make one up and see if she noticed.” Pair with this Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.
UNESCO announced this week that Krakow has been named the seventh City of Literature. The Polish municipality joins Edinburgh, the first UNESCO City of Literature, and Iowa City, Melbourne, Dublin, Reykjavik and Norwich. The city has been home to such notable authors as Nobel Prize winners Henryk Sienkiewicz, Władysław Stanisław Reymont, Czesław Miłosz, and Wisława Szymborska.
Would anyone write novels in a world without copyright? According to Tim Parks, they probably would not. For more on the relationship between the market and the product, see Parks’s essay on whether more money leads to better writing.
What is the price of diversity? Colleen Muir asks this question at The Rumpus in relation to the hefty cost of writers’ conferences. A piece of her essay: “I’m not claiming that Breadloaf [sic] lacks for talent, or that its writers don’t have interesting things to say. But it certainly lacks for diversity in at least one significant way, because most attendees share a privileged experience of the world.” Pair with Gail Gauthier’s essay on working in the kitchen crew at Bread Loaf.
Aimee Bender, Year in Reading alum and author of, most recently, The Color Master, writes for The New York Times about the structural genius of Goodnight Moon: “[The story] does two things right away: It sets up a world and then it subverts its own rules even as it follows them.”
“[P]ublishing is a behemoth that is trudging along slowly in the direction of progress. But it still has a long way to go.” GQ editor and Year-in-Reading alum Kevin Nguyen gets the interview treatment from Poets & Writers (and gives a few shout-outs to us while he’s at it!). Among the books he’s read in the last year that stood out: “White Tears by Hari Kunzru by a mile.”