The Women Warriors

"As I read her words, I experienced a feeling previously unknown to me: recognition. I had always turned to books for pleasure, as portals to other places. Reading The Woman Warrior, for the first time I saw myself on every page and in every word." For Catapult, Alexis Cheung writes about representation, being an Asian-American writer, and reading and interviewing Maxine Hong Kingston. From our archives: Kingston's work was featured in Alexander Chee's 2015 Year in Reading.

2017 John Leonard Prize Finalists Announced

The finalists for the John Leonard Prize — for a first book in any genre — were announced by the National Book Critics Circle. This year's finalists are Lesley Nneka Arimah's What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Julie Buntin's Marlena, Zinzi Clemmons' What We Lose, Layli Long Soldier's Whereas, Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body and Other Parties, and Gabriel Tallent's My Absolute Darling. The winner will be announced in January. Pair with: Buntin's 2017 Year in Reading entry.

YiR Alums In Spook

Are you familiar with Spook magazine founded and edited by Jason Parham? It focuses on promoting artists of color and their work. This month the fiction issue, was released and it features work from beloved writers (and Year in Reading alums!) Junot DiazAngela Flournoy, and Vinson Cunningham. Along with YiR favorite Justin Torres. You can buy it here! Perfect read for the snowy weekend.

Ayobami Adebayo: Rising Star

Ayobami Adebayo is interviewed by Abigail Bereola for Hazlitt and it's fantastic. They discuss proverbs, romantic love, sickle cell anemia and writing your first book. "At the risk of sounding very narcissistic, I’m going to say I write for myself ultimately. And maybe my sister. I think that when I’m working, it’s very difficult for me to think about an audience, perhaps because sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming. I’m trying to figure out so many things that I really don’t start thinking about the idea that other people might read this thing until, 'Oh my God, it’s publication day' and I have a panic attack like 'Oh my God, what have I done?' I think the awareness of an audience is something I’m just coming into because this is a first book."

Asian American Writers, Generation Next

The Guardian's Max Liu highlights several rising star Asian American authors, including Year in Reading 2017 participant Jenny Zhang. "After years on the peripheries of US fiction and poetry, Asian American authors have stepped into the spotlight during 2017. Books by writers of east and south-east Asian heritage are one of the hottest trends this year. [...] Transcultural writers, born to immigrant parents in the US or immigrants themselves as children, they are channelling their experiences into writing that, with perfect historical timing, challenges readers to resist attacks on immigrants’ rights and to see refugees as individuals with unique stories."

William Gass, 1924-2017

“He was a glutton for books who treated each text as a plate he was required to clean.” Author and critic William Gass died this week at 93, reports The Washington Post. The recipient of three National Book Critics Circle awards for criticism and four Pushcart prizes, Gass was awarded the PEN/Nabakov Award for lifetime achievement in 2000.  See our reviews of Middle C, a novel that took Gass almost 20 years to finish, and his most recent essay collection Life Sentences, which amply demonstrated his background as “a former philosophy professor, but more appropriately a philosopher of the word and an esthete.” We were also lucky enough to have him pen a Year in Reading entry for us back in 2009: “I miss the leisure that let me read just for fun, not to critique, or pronounce, or even to put on a list, but simply to savor,” Gass lamented. Nonetheless, he continued,“I do, from time to time, pick up old friends who never disappoint but will promise me a page or two of pleasure between art and ordinary life.”
Curiosities, New Releases

Tuesday New Release Day: Diski; Şafak; Olafsson; Krasznahorkai; le Guin

Out this week: The Vanishing Princess by Jenny Diski; Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Şafak; One Station Away by Olaf Olafsson; The World Goes On by László Krasznahorkai; and No Time to Spare by Ursula le Guin. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.

Return of the Ferrante

"According to an interview with her publishers in the Italian literary newsletter Il Libraio, translated in The Guardian, Ferrante is putting pen to paper once more." A year after Elena Ferrante's alleged true identity was revealed by a journalist, the intensely-private author is writing again but has no plans to publish a novel in 2018. Pair with: staff writer Marie Myung-Ok Lee's essay on Ferrante, privacy, and woman writers.

The Best of the Best

Authors, including Jennifer Egan, George Saunders, Ali Smith, and our own Chigozie Obioma, chose their Best Books of 2017 in a two-part series for The Guardian. If you enjoyed that list, make sure to check out our  Year in Reading: 2017 series all throughout December.

She Said, He Said

"Ms. Cline, who was 27 when the novel came out, was celebrated as a major new talent. But for the last two years, her success has been overshadowed, in private, by legal threats levied against her by a former boyfriend." Emma Cline, bestselling author of The Girls,  and her ex-boyfriend, Chaz Reetz-Laiolo, have filed public lawsuits against each other including allegations of plagiarism, physical abuse, and intimidation, according to the New York Times. From our archives: staff writer Michael Bourne's review of Cline's debut novel.