Best-Seller Algorithm, Women Protagonists in Film Adaptations, 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:

Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers’s new book, The Bestseller Code, details an algorithm built to predict best-selling novels, “replac[ing] gut instinct and wishful thinking with data.” This makes financial sense for the publishing industry, but some fear that data and analytics-driven publishing may narrow readers’ tastes overall. (Wired)

Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Edward Albee died Friday at age eighty-eight. Among the “most honored of American dramatists” in his generation, Albee’s plays include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1962), A Delicate Balance (1966), and Seascape (1975). (New York Times)

“I didn’t want to keep my head down and wait thirty years to be discovered…so I thought I’m going to do something bold.” Ottessa Moshfegh discusses the impetus behind writing her novel, Eileen, which is shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize. (Guardian)

Meanwhile, at BookForum, Khanya Mtshali speaks with fiction writer Lidudumalingani Mqombothi about his story “Memories We Lost,” which won the 2016 Caine Prize for African Writing.

Does Hollywood find its most complex and interesting women characters from books? Writer and editor Meg Miller looks at the history of book-to-film adaptations, suggesting literature’s positive impact on women in film. (Atlantic)

In a discussion with her editor, Jordan Pavlin, fiction writer Yaa Gyasi talks about the origins of her acclaimed debut novel, Homegoing, and the process of structuring a story that spans two hundred fifty years. Gyasi’s Homegoing was featured in Poets & Writers’ “First Fiction 2016” roundup. (Barnes & Noble Review)

Have you ever wondered how long it took authors to write their most famous novels? This infographic shows the length of time it took to write thirty popular novels, from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy—which took sixteen years—to Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, which was completed in just three weeks. (Electric Literature)