At ZORA, Arielle Gray reflects on the lasting legacy of Toni Morrison‘s role as an editor and how she ushered in a generation of writers during her 19-year career at Random House. “When we think of an editor, we think of notes in the margins, strikethroughs, and (lots of) corrections,” Gray writes. “But Morrison’s role went beyond annotating and adjusting manuscripts. She was a caretaker of a blossoming universe of Black literature, stewarding a cadre of writers and thinkers who would change the world. Morrison considered everything, from book jacket designs to which cover colors would catch the eye in bookstore windows. Her hands played a part in everything, including the advertising of the books she edited to ensure the works reached the eyes of literary critics and academics.”
Daniel Orozco‘s Orientation collects many of his short stories in one attractive volume. Released last May, the collection features the classic story “Orientation” (Scribd) as well as newer ones such as “Shakers” (Scribd). It garnered enough hype to land him on the long list for this year’s Frank O’Connor Award.
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.”
Year in Reading alum Angela Flournoy writes about Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man for the National Book Foundation. “I return to Invisible Man often because it accomplishes so many things at once, but never at the sake of intelligent, moving storytelling.” Pair with our interview with Flournoy.
To add to the awards lists, Believer has announced its editors’ shortlist for the Believer Book Award, which looks to acknowledge “the strongest and most underappreciated” novels of the year. The shortlist includes Danielle Dutton’s Sprawl; Kira Henehan’s Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles (reviewed for The Millions); James Hynes‘ Next, Grace Krilanovich’s The Orange Eats Creeps (reviewed for The Millions); and Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies (reviewed here).