The Nickel Boys

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“You pick the right tool for the job, and sometimes fantasy is a way to open up a story and convey a universal truth, and sometimes realism.” Colson Whitehead speaks with PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown about his writing process and the true story that inspired his latest novel, The Nickel Boys, which was published this week by Doubleday.

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Esmé Weijun Wang on Taking Compliments

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“We can be unrelentingly hard to ourselves, and under such circumstances, it’s a shame to not let the world’s light stick to us when we have the chance.” Esmé Weijun Wang, author of The Collected Schizophrenias (Graywolf Press, 2019), speaks about the importance of prioritizing compliments over criticism in this PBS NewsHour video.

Summer Reading Recommendations

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In this PBS NewsHour video, NPR’s Maureen Corrigan and the Washington Post’s Carlos Lozada highlight their favorite books for summer reading, which include Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin Press, 2019), Jill Ciment’s The Body in Question (Pantheon, 2019), and José Olivarez’s Citizen Illegal (Haymarket Books, 2018).

Nathan Englander on Ritual

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“I adopted the six days for creation and a seventh for rest model. I figured, if it worked for building this world, it should work for fictional ones as well.” Novelist Nathan Englander, author of kaddish.com (Knopf, 2019), shares how his religious upbringing has influenced his writing rituals in this PBS NewsHour video.

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Willie Perdomo on Letter Writing

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“Letter writing is a pure act of devotion, a place where, if not storytellers, we all become human again.” In this PBS NewsHour video, Willie Perdomo, the author most recently of The Crazy Bunch (Penguin Books, 2019), talks about the value of writing letters and how they are “where we attempt to tell the truth and wait.”

Lost Children Archive

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“What are the ethics around documenting political crises? How much do you become a parasite of people’s suffering? What good do you do to a situation by documenting it or fictionalizing it? These are all questions that are in the novel.” Valeria Luiselli discusses the unique challenges of writing about the ongoing migrant crisis at the U.S. southern border in her most recent novel, Lost Children Archive (Knopf, 2019), with PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown. An interview with Luiselli by Lauren LeBlanc appears in the March/April issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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Erica Dawson

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“The other night, somebody asked, is Black poetry back? Like, we penned one verse, and it got lost at sea or slipped inside a big old crack in the big old earth, and then re-returned when everything was chaos.” In this PBS NewsHour video, Erica Dawson reads a poem about her experience while on tour for her poetry collection When Rap Spoke Straight to God (Tin House Books, 2018).

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Reginald Dwayne Betts

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Poet, memoirist, and teacher Reginald Dwayne Betts speaks with PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown about his experience as a teen in prison and how poetry gave him a new identity. Betts is the author of Bastards of the Reagan Era (Four Way Books, 2015) and Felon, forthcoming from Norton in October, and is a recipient of the 2019 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award.

A House of My Own

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“It is a map of how this writer had to break many barriers to find not a room of her own, but a house of her own.” Sandra Cisneros speaks with PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown about her essay collection, A House of My Own: Stories From My Life (Knopf, 2015), her path to writing, and what home means to her. Cisneros was recently named the winner of the 2019 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.

Franny Choi

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In this video for PBS NewsHour’s “Brief but Spectacular” series, Franny Choi reads her poem “Introduction to Quantum Theory” and discusses the importance of asking unanswerable questions and imagining alternate realities. Choi is the author of Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014) and Soft Science, which is forthcoming from Alice James Books in April.

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