“Familiar, well-behaved stories are dressed in nice book covers and sent to our bookstores; from there they march to our homes in an orderly manner.” On Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and how publishing understands the immigrant narrative. Pair with our review of Adichie’s second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun.
“Bertelsmann’s 7% decline in 2016 revenue was due entirely to a drop in sales at Penguin Random House. The lack of a big new bestseller hurt results at the company, and it divested some smaller divisions in the year.” For those interested in inside baseball, Publishers Weekly takes a look at how the world’s 50 largest publishers are faring. (TL;dr: Although their total revenue topped $50 billion, more than half of the list’s publishers reported sales declines – oh, and Harry Potter still really, really sells). As a counterpoint to all that capitalism, read our own Edan Lepucki‘s survey of self-published authors.
Right on the edge of Banned Books Week, Rainbow Rowell discusses when Minneapolis’s Anoka-Hennepin school district, the county board, and the local library board censored her from coming to speak about her YA novel Eleanor & Park. “When these people call Eleanor & Park an obscene story, I feel like they’re saying that rising above your situation isn’t possible,” she says.
“What I want to know is, since when does making art require participation in any community, beyond the intense participation that the art itself is undertaking? Since when am I not contributing to the community if all I want to do is make the art itself?” Meghan Tifft gives voice to the struggle of the introverted writer in an essay for The Atlantic.
Out this week: The Idiot by Elif Batuman; One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel; Before the War by Fay Weldon; Swimmer Among the Stars by Kanishk Tharoor; and White Tears by Hari Kunzru. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
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.)