Colson Whitehead to Receive Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, Strand Book Store Union Criticizes Owner for Layoffs, 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.

The Library of Congress has announced Colson Whitehead as the recipient of the 2020 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. The annual award honors “an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination.” At age fifty, Whitehead is the youngest writer to receive this distinction, which the library will formally confer during its virtual book festival at the end of September.

The union that represents workers at the Strand Book Store in New York City has issued a statement criticizing owner Nancy Bass-Wyden for laying off twelve employees, who she had just recently rehired when the store reopened to foot traffic. The union writes that Bass-Wyden has displayed a “long-standing pattern of wanton disregard for the physical, mental, and financial well-being of her employees.” Bass-Wyden says she was too optimistic about reopening and told Publishers Weekly, “We wanted to welcome our community and our booksellers back, but the harsh reality is that the foot traffic is nonexistent.” 

The Transpacific Literary Project at the Asian American Writers Workshop plans to publish a new folio of works on monsoon season that includes poetry, photography, and short stories. “Along the Pacific Rim, we experience monsoons viscerally. Our literature is a humid literature,” writes editor Esther Kim.

Three writers with disabilities reflect on visible and invisible disabilities, difficult conversations, and ableism. “Disability can be challenging, but it can also be sexy and stylish and fun and smart,” writes Krysten Chambrot. (New York Times)

The Chicago Review of Books talks to Heidi Zheng and Peter Hopkins about becoming the new owners of The Dial Bookshop in Chicago in the middle of the pandemic.  

Penguin Random House Canada is running a free virtual summer camp for young readers this week, dubbed “Camp Penguin.” The program includes activity packs and virtual events with authors. (CBC)

Hillary Kelly selects her favorite books of the year to date, including Real Life by Brandon Taylor, Temporary by Hilary Leichter, and A Burning by Megha Majumdar. (Vulture)

Eva Rosen recommends eight books of nonfiction that examine housing inequality in America. (Electric Literature)