Pultizer Prize winner for fiction (and Year in Reading alum), Viet Thanh Nguyen, speaks about writers who “blazed the path” ahead of him at The Washington Post. For all of the Pulitzer Prize finalists, head to our comprehensive list.
We’ve recommended reading up on Jenny Zhang‘s Sour Heart before, this interview in Hazlitt is one of our favorites. “And maybe this is crude to talk about, it’s not even that I don’t want to write a memoir. Beyond that, do you understand how vulnerable it makes someone to call something nonfiction? Not just emotionally vulnerable but financially vulnerable, do you realize someone that makes $40,000 a year cannot be hit by a lawsuit by some angry ex who objected about a chapter about him? Some guy sees one line about him, missing thousands of lines not about him. That’s why celebrities are the ones who write memoirs.”
Could this be the start of a trend? HarperCollins paid the singer Billy Joel $3 million for a memoir back in 2008. Joel wrote The Book of Joel, the publisher edited it, and a June publication date was set. Last week, however, Joel abruptly backed out of the deal and apparently will return the portion of the advance he’s been paid. His reason? He told the Associated Press he “was not all that interested in talking about the past.”
“Of all the literary genres, poetry has proved the most resistant to digital technology, not for stodgy cultural reasons but for tricky mechanical ones.” Looks like that might be changing, however, as Open Road releases Flow Chart, Your Name Here and 15 other John Ashbery digital poetry collections.