Boom in Afghan Book Industry, Publishers Write Letter to Booker Foundation, 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:

Thirty publishers have signed a letter to the Booker Foundation, urging the organization to reverse its 2014 decision making American books eligible for the Man Booker Prize. Previously, the prestigious award was open only to authors from the British Commonwealth and Ireland. George Saunders won the 2017 prize for his novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. (Guardian)

“I think in any environment, but perhaps especially places at war, book reading creates a pause from day-to-day life and isolates a reader from their surroundings while they’re buried in a book. This is powerful anywhere, but in a place like Afghanistan, it can be a means of emotional survival.” Jamshid Hashimi, who runs an online library and book club in Kabul, is among the growing number of publishers, booksellers, and readers in Afghanistan. (New York Times)

Publishers Weekly investigates whether Instagram helps publishers and writers sell poetry.

“When I was young, all the writers I looked up to shared this idea of literature as something sacred. But the attitude toward writing is much more casual today, and there are plenty of people who are more likely to think of writing as self-expression and self-help.” Fiction writer Sigrid Nunez talks with the Rumpus about literature today and her most recent novel, The Friend.

“Ocean metaphors—those are terrible.” Daniel Handler and several writers, including Jennifer Weiner, Stephen King, Carmen Maria Machado, and Geoff Dyer, weigh in on how to write about sex in fiction. (New York Times)

More than two hundred years after the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Jill Lepore considers the story behind the novel and its many disparate contemporary readings. (New Yorker)

Inigo Thomas describes attending the book party for Michael Wolff’s Fire & Fury in New York City. (London Review of Books)

Fantasy writer Tamora Pierce talks about writing her first male protagonist in her forthcoming book, Tempests and Slaughter, and what science fiction and fantasy can teach young readers. (NPR)