A Return to Form

"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

Scrutinizing Letters from Sylvia Plath

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

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.

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."