Analyzing Racial Diversity in Publishing, Bookshop Santa Cruz Employees Seek to Unionize, 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.

“Measuring progress isn’t easy, and requires a baseline to compare against: How many current authors are people of color? As far as we could tell, that data didn’t exist.” Conducting an analysis of racial diversity in publishing, a team of researchers looked at fiction books published by major publishers between 1950 and 2018, and found that, of the books for which they could identify the author’s race, 95 percent of the titles were written by white authors. The group shared this finding and other data in a report for the New York Times.  

Employees at Bookshop Santa Cruz in California are in the process of forming a union and have asked owner Casey Coonerty Protti for voluntary recognition. Announcing the move to the public, the workers cited a desire to negotiate “as a collective rather than as individuals.” Protti has since responded, and while she did not voluntarily recognize the union, she agreed to “abide by any vote of our workers in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.” (Shelf Awareness)

John le Carré, an acclaimed writer of espionage fiction, died on Saturday at age eighty-nine. He was the author of more than two dozen books, including the ever-popular Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. (Washington Post)

Poets & Writers Magazine takes a look inside the dispute between the former staffers and the board at Poets House over the suspension of the poetry nonprofit and library in November. 

“I had always thought that in Blue Joni had taught me about love, about being in love and losing it. Now I think it’s more that Joni taught me about longing.” Poet Amy Key writes on love, loss, and Joni Mitchell. (Granta)

“In my family, the women laugh most of all. It was the women who taught me how to laugh when a man leaves you, to laugh when a parent aims to hurt.” Writer Danielle Batalion Ola mourns the loss of her grandmother and shares how laughter has sustained her family. (Margins)

Arianna Rebolini and Tomi Obaro of BuzzFeed highlight twenty-nine of their favorite books of the year, including Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore and Cleanness by Garth Greenwell. 

Haruki Murakami will be celebrating New Year’s Eve by hosting a live radio special. (Literary Hub)