"As a writer, it’s not like all experience is useful, but when something is troubling, a form can present itself as a way to think. To put what is essentially chaotic into a container where it can be what it is." The Rumpus interviews John Freeman, the Executive Editor of LitHub, about his recent literary projects, the death of his mother, and empathy. Pair with: Contributing Editor Nick Ripatrazone's Year in Reading which includes Freeman's debut poetry collection, Maps.
is the Handmaid's Tale! Makes a lot of sense. Read how Amazon figured this out and the runner ups here.
"A few weeks ago, I texted my writing group, 'All I really want is to be just famous enough to have my own celebrity book club.' I was kind of kidding. But I kind of wasn’t. Because, like portion-packaged organic snacks delivered to your door, isn’t book club ownership one step closer to having it all?" Laura Briskman on the faux intimacy of celebrity book clubs, as more and more celebrities start their own post Oprah.
Anwen Crawford reflects on newly published letters from Sylvia Plath; "The belief among many of Plath’s devotees seems to be that if we can get clear of other people’s fingerprints on her texts, allowing Plath to 'fully narrate her own autobiography,' as the editors here describe it, we will at last solve the riddle of her. The extremities of her poetry will balance against the circumstances of her life; the latter will equal the former. But her griefs were ordinary; it is what she did with them that wasn’t. Plath turned her common sorrows—dead father, mental illness, cheating husband—into something like an origin story for pain itself, as if her own pain preceded the world." In the New Yorker
"Their reporting led to Mr. Weinstein’s firing and set off a national conversation about the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment." New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey will publish a book with Penguin Press about the recent sexual abuse and harassment allegations that have rocked the country. From our archives: Hannah Gersen's essay about seeing and hearing women in film.
"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.
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.
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 Diaz, Angela Flournoy, and Vinson Cunningham. Along with YiR favorite Justin Torres. You can buy it here! Perfect read for the snowy weekend.
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."