AWP Under Fire, Ferrante Fever, and More


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

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference—the annual event that drew roughly 15,000 writers last year—has been the subject of a growing controversy surrounding diversity and discrimination. After the conference announced its 2016 panels earlier this month—a lineup that, among other disparities, rejected all disability-related panel proposals—the writer Laura Mullen made a call on Twitter for the organization to release a race and gender breakdown of panels. In response, AWP executive director David Fenza wrote a letter to Mullen (copying her colleagues at Louisiana State University), accusing the writer of “casting aspersions” against the organization. (Both Fenza’s letter, and Mullen’s subsequent response, can be read on Mullen’s blog.) A petition was then created last week calling for the organization to "improve diversity, accessibility, and transparency." On Monday, Red Hen Press founder and managing editor Kate Gale, who is a member of the 2016 conference planning committee, published a piece in the Huffington Post in defense of the organization; it was received by much of the literary community as highly offensive and indicative of the problematic culture of the conference, and led to a number of critical responses. AWP has since responded, stating that the organization is considering collecting demographic information, and in a Tweet yesterday, that it did not endorse Gale’s article, which has since been removed and replaced with with an apology. Fenza, meanwhile, defended Gale's remarks today. (Publishers Weekly)

In other literary drama, the Los Angeles Review of Books offers a detailed account of the pre-publication turmoil surrounding Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.

In the latest installment of the New York Times By the Book series, short story writer Ann Beattie—whose new collection, The State We’re In: Maine Stories, is just out from Scribner—talks about her love of cookbooks and distaste for mysteries. To hear an interview with Beattie about her new book and her writing process, listen to the latest episode of Ampersand: The Poets & Writers Podcast.

The Boston Review explores the relationship between marriage, writing, and the work of twentieth-century Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector—whose collected short stories were recently published for the first time in English—along with that of Edith Wharton and the French author Colette.

At Literary Hub, fiction writer Justin Taylor—the author of a novel and two short story collections, most recently Flings (Harper, 2014)—writes about the total weirdness of the book tour.

Attention, literary-minded graphic artists: Little, Brown is hosting a cover design contest in honor of the twentieth anniversary of David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest. The book was first published in February 1996. (GalleyCat)

The antidote for Ferrante Fever is nearly here, whether we're ready or not. The elusive Italian author of the addictive Neapolitan novels, Elena Ferrante, has “finished the story that [she] never thought would end.” Read about the fourth and final book in the saga, The Story of the Lost Child, at the New York Times Sunday Book Review.