Critique of New Library of Congress Subject Headings, Naomi Jackson Chronicles Mental Health, 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.

Writer and former librarian Kelly Jensen reacts to the news that the Library of Congress has introduced “noncitizen” and “illegal immigration” subject headings as replacements for “aliens” and “illegal aliens.” Jensen challenges framings of the announcement as progressive: “By retaining the word ‘illegal,’ the cataloging hierarchy continues damage and showcases its inability to be as progressive and inclusive—and indeed, socially just—as it should be.” (Book Riot)

“I know that just below these heights of creativity, there is a winding staircase that leads to mania. Still, I write as if I may never write again. I want to get it all down. In case my mind betrays me, let me say one last thing.” Novelist Naomi Jackson writes about living and making art with bipolar disorder. (Harper’s)

“I don’t believe in writing scenes for shock value, or using violence as a tool for ‘plot development’ or ‘characterization.’ But these moments just needed to happen. The book kept telling me this over and over again.” Janice Lee describes writing through difficult material in her new book, Imagine a Death. (Believer)

“All the stuff that I was hearing described as tacky was stuff I really liked. I didn’t know what the word tacky meant, but I knew it was bad.” Rax King discusses claiming and celebrating tackiness in her new essay collection, Tacky: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer. (NPR)

Novelist Patricia Engel shares a slate of book recommendations: Fiebre Tropical by Juli Delgago Lopera made her laugh and Secret by Philippe Gimbert made her cry. (Book Marks)

“I speak about the violence that took place in Korean history. But with these stories, I am able to show the resilience of the people who lived through these hardships.” Keum Suk Gendry-Kim shares how both her family history and the stories of other Korean families informed her new graphic novel, The Waiting. (Margins)

The Millions spotlights four new books arriving in bookstores this week, including Noor by Nnedi Okorafor and The Four Humors by Mina Seçkin.

Organizers are preparing a hybrid program for the 2022 Jaipur Literature Festival, which is scheduled to open on January 28. (Publishers Weekly)