American Booksellers Association Proposes Reforms, Greenlight Bookstore Issues Apology and Action Plan, 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.

The American Booksellers Association has proposed two bylaw changes to address the lack of diversity and representation on its board: The organization seeks to increase the number of board directors from eleven to thirteen, and ensure that at least four of these thirteen seats be occupied by Black, Indigenous, and people of color booksellers—further stipulating that at least two must be Black booksellers. Members are invited to vote on these reforms through July 14, with the results due to be announced on July 15. 

Greenlight Bookstore of Brooklyn, New York, has issued an open letter to acknowledge “feedback about negative experiences of Black customers and employees in our stores.” The owners and managerial staff apologize for fostering an “unwelcoming environment,” commit to an internal audit, and outline several steps they plan to take to become an actively anti-racist business

Corinne Manning shares her evolving understanding of how to write about abuse in fiction. She warns against allowing society’s “limiting view of harm” to define the narrative, and advises writers to question how their own understanding of what constitutes abuse has been censored or tempered. “I consider fiction dangerous. Not readily because it is raw and pushes boundaries, but because it so often doesn’t. It is, more often than not, an opportunity to lie about what isn’t there or to manipulate the reader into thinking the world is more hopeful than it is. We want to be lied to.” (Autostraddle)

The Orwell Foundation has announced the winners of the 2020 Orwell Prizes. Kate Clanchy won the political writing category for her memoir, Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me, while Colson Whitehead won the political fiction prize for The Nickel Boys. (Guardian)

The National Book Foundation has announced that this year’s National Book Awards ceremony and all associated programming will be hosted online. “Though the medium is new, the entire Board and National Book Foundation staff remain committed to hosting a National Book Awards celebration that is a beacon of hope for all who attend,” said chair of the board David Steinberger. 

Indonesian author Intan Paramaditha interviews Stephen Epstein, who translated her novels The Wandering and Apple and Knife, about his path to becoming a literary translator of both Korean and Indonesian texts. (Margins)

“I’m trying to get at the stories we want to tell, beyond trying to appeal to a non-trans gaze, where we get to be complicated, flawed, and in a process of evolving.” Cooper Lee Bombardier strives to write without fear. (Lambda Literary Review)

Lynn Steger Strong reviews three new books that explore the relationship between mothers and daughters. (New York Times)

Molly Young recommends nine of her favorite books, including The Vices by Lawrence Douglas and Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight. (Vulture)