A Childhood Diary From Terezín, Jhumpa Lahiri on Italian Short Stories, and More


Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—publishing reports, literary dispatches, academic announcements, and more—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories.

“I wrote, with naïve caution, ‘Until the age of eight I led a normal life… but then a foreign nation entered my country,’ which I must have imagined would be less offensive to a potential Nazi reader than saying straight out that Germany had invaded Czechoslovakia.” Seventy-five years later, Zuzana Justman returns to the childhood diary she kept in the Czech concentration camp Terezín. (New Yorker)

At the Paris Review, Jhumpa Lahiri describes the joy of reading Italian short stories. “Language is the substance of literature, but language also locks it up again, confining it to silence and obscurity. Translation, in the end, is the key.”

At Electric Literature, Mona Awad talks about why an exclusive MFA program proved the perfect setting for the Gothic fairy tale of her new novel, Bunny. “A small group of people have been sequestered away from their usual lives, and they’re being asked to tap in to their emotions and create something. They have to do that in front of other people and expose themselves. A lot can go wrong if you really think about that situation.”

“Toni Morrison didn’t win the Nobel Prize for dispensing banal platitudes; she got it for writing scabrous, gorgeous, complex books like Song of Solomon.” Sandra Newman on the problem with remembering authors by sharing their most popular quotes. (Washington Post)

Although Kurdish writer and refugee Behrouz Boochani is winning some of Australia’s most prestigious literary awards, he still can’t leave the Australian island where he was detained for six years. “In an era when simply being a person in need of international protection makes a man a criminal, he cannot live in the society that has showered him with praise,” writes Masha Gessen. (New Yorker)

At BOMB, editors Shelly Oria and Lilly Dancyger discuss the joys of artistic collaboration and the shared concerns of their respective anthologiesIndelible in the Hippocampus: Writings From the Me Too Movement and Burn It Down: Women Writing About Anger. “I hope you and I are both part of something much bigger than either of our books, that in a few years there will be countless books representing this shift in our collective understanding of gender dynamics and their consequences,” Oria says.

Millions of books published between 1923 and 1964 are in the public domain, but not easily accessible. VICE covers the most recent efforts of librarians, archivists, and volunteers to identify and upload public domain titles to various online databases.

Writer Ruth Reichl pays tribute to editor and Random House publisher Susan Kamil, who died earlier this week, and remembers her exacting eye and dedication to the art of editing. “She was a reader, in the fiercest sense. Susan knew exactly what she wanted.” (New York Times)