American Booksellers Association Apologizes, Jordan Pavlin Promoted to Editor in Chief at Knopf, and More

by Staff

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.

Allison Hill, the CEO of the American Booksellers Association (ABA), and the ABA board have both issued apologies for two recent regressive actions the organization made. When Blackout, a new collaborative novel by Black authors Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon, appeared on the indie best-seller list in early July, the ABA posted the incorrect cover image, using the art from a book by a Black right-wing commentator also titled Blackout. “We erased Black authors, conflated Black authors, and put the authors in danger through a forced association,” wrote Hill. More recently the ABA included copies of Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters in this month’s box mailing, which Hill acknowledged “traumatized and endangered members of the trans community.” The literary community widely condemned the ABA when news broke on social media of the book’s inclusion. Some also called out the ABA’s initial apology statement, separate from the letters from Hill and the board, for using the passive voice; the statement began, “An anti-trans book was included in our July mailing to members.” (Shelf Awareness, Publishers Weekly)

Jordan Pavlin, who has worked with such notable authors as Yaa Gyasi, Tommy Orange, and Karen Russell, has been promoted from editorial director to editor in chief at Knopf. The death of publishing giant Sonny Mehta left the positions of both publisher and editor in chief vacant at the end of 2019. Reagan Arthur was hired as publisher and vice president in early 2020. (New York Times)

Pavlin discussed her editorial life and philosophies in Poets & Writers Magazine’s Agents & Editors series in 2017. “My job is to be a writer’s ideal reader. It’s an amazing thing to make a life out of: to be the most open, the most credulous, the most willing to surrender,” she told interviewer Michael Szczerban. “I am first and foremost a fan. That is where the work has to begin.”

In awards news from overseas, Amanda Lohrey received the Miles Franklin Literary Award, “arguably the most prestigious prize for Australian writing,” for her novel The Labyrinth. In Japan, Li Kotomi took home the Akutagawa Prize, which honors an emerging author, for her novel Higanbana ga Saku Shima. (Guardian, Kyodo News)

“A symptom of borderline is an unclear sense of self and unstable emotions. I think it lends itself to different forms, depending on what I want to speak about.” Courtney Cook discusses striving to write about borderline personality disorder with intimacy and vulnerability in her debut graphic memoir, The Way She Feels. (Kirkus)

Since opening in 2017 and throughout the pandemic, Cafe con Libros, an independent bookstore and coffee shop in New York City, has operated with a community-first mindset. “My bookstore felt like the next step in my activist life,” says owner Kalima DeSuze. (Forbes)

The staff at the Millions have compiled a mega-listicle of books coming out in the second half of the year.