Best-Sellers of 2020, Ella Baker Initiative Promotes Civic Engagement, 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.

Publishers Weekly reports on the best-selling titles of 2020. Political books performed especially well: A Promised Land by Barack Obama was the overall best-seller of the year, while Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump came in fourth. Several books examining race and racism also made the top twenty-five, including How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi and Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. 

Zenzele Johnson discusses her work as manager of the Ella Baker Initiative, a new civic engagement project at the Schomburg Center. “As a steward of this initiative, my intention is to create programming that spans across generations and that disrupts the history we’ve been taught regarding Black women’s impact on civic action in this country.” (New York Public Library)

“Sometimes I am boggled by the gallery of souls I’ve known. By the lore. The wild history, unsung. People crowd in and talk to me in dreams.” Novelist Rachel Kushner presents scenes from her youth in San Francisco. (New Yorker)

Laura Cappelle of the New York Times reports on the breakout success of Pauline Harmange’s I Hate Men in France. An English translation of the book is due out in the United States later this month. 

“I know what would go in between if I were to write it, it’s not a mystery to me. I’m not trying to withhold exactly, but rather to distill.” Jenny Offill talks to the Guardian about her signature fragmentary style

“It’s a truism that historical fiction reveals more about its own age than the one it portrays.” Paraic O’Donnell, the author of The House on Vesper Sands, recommends historical fiction set in the Victorian period. (Electric Literature)

Author and illustrator Brooke Barker has drawn a visual guide to the Little Free Library boxes in her neighborhood. (New York Times)

Five authors with new books—Mateo Askaripour, Kevin Barry, Keisha Bush, Susan Conley, and Anna North—answer the Lit Hub Author Questionnaire