Catherine Lacey Wins Young Lions Fiction Award, Jennifer Szalai Pays Tribute to Janet Malcolm, and More

by Staff
6.21.21

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.

Catherine Lacey has earned this year’s Young Lions Fiction Award for her latest novel, Pew. Administered by the New York Public Library, the $10,000 prize honors a work of fiction by a writer age thirty-five or younger. “Just as Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man challenged us to interrogate who we see as it pertains to race, Catherine Lacey’s Pew challenges us to interrogate what we see when it pertains to sex and gender,” said Yahdon Israel, one of the three judges for this year’s prize.

“Whenever I would begin to read anything by Janet Malcolm, my expectations were split in two: a soothing sense that it would be confidently and exactingly written, paired with an apprehension—an almost exquisite dread—of the startling truths it was bound to reveal.” Jennifer Szalai writes in praise of Janet Malcolm, the longtime New Yorker staff writer who died last week at age eighty-six. (New York Times)

“Being in this place, standing on the same small island where the freedom of a quarter million people was proclaimed, I felt the history pulse through my body.” In an excerpt from his new book, How the Word Is Passed, Clint Smith writes about attending the commemoration of Juneteenth at Ashton Villa in Galveston, Texas. (Paris Review Daily)

A profile of Smith by Destiny O. Birdsong features in the current issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Publishers Weekly talks with Mikyla Bruder as she prepares to take the helm at Amazon Publishing. She addresses the importance of tackling issues of diversity and inclusion both at Amazon and at the industry-wide level: “We need to do it together—people need to be willing to be uncomfortable in facing some of these issues.”

“I sat down and the story poured out of me like a faucet that couldn’t be shut. Despite only being able to write for two hours a day due to poor health, I finished a draft in under half a year.” Yan Lianke describes the “revolutionary language” that propels his novel Hard Like Water. (Literary Hub)

“The library was practically a babysitter. You could leave yourself and enter worlds. It’s such a rich life when you get to be a reader. Books can give you multiple lives.” Anthony Doerr characterizes his next novel, Cloud Cuckoo Land, as “a love letter to libraries and books.” (Millions)

“I grew into it as all these new conditions were being revealed.” Jennifer Caspar talks to the Los Angeles Times about opening her independent bookstore, Village Well Books & Coffee, during the pandemic.

Annabel Aguiar writes about how novelist Kristen Arnett became “a self-appointed ‘gay dad’ to people online who need one.” (Washington Post)