Debut Fiction Writers on Publishing in a Pandemic, New Mentorship Collective for BIPOC Writers, 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.

At the Toronto Star, ten debut fiction writers reflect on publishing their books during a pandemic. John Elizabeth Stintzi, the author of Vanishing Monuments, describes the experience as “a whirlwind of grief and gratitude: grief for what should have been, but gratitude for the space and time those readers who found my work—despite the world—have afforded it.”

A group of nearly fifty established writers have formed PERIPLUS, a new mentorship collective to support BIPOC writers who are based in the United States. The collective is currently soliciting applications for its first cohort. Each established writer will take on one mentee for 2021. 

“I thought, what if you wrote a Western? But instead of Clint Eastwood riding into town to challenge the forces that be, you had, a nineteen-year-old pregnant labor activist.” Jess Walter on the labor movement that inspired his latest novel, The Cold Millions. (NPR)

“By remembering Tituba, Condé has made a loving gesture to remember all of the Black women forgotten and abused by history.” J. Nicole Jones recommends Maryse Condé’s I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem, which fictionalizes the life of one of the first women accused of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. (Paris Review Daily)

“When we get faced with big questions, we go back to the myths. We go back to the old stories.” Appearing at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Marlon James discusses the appeal of speculative fiction

“The country had been brutal for a very long time, from the beginning actually. And now the rhetoric began to mirror reality.” Actor and playwright Wallace Shawn reflects on the evolution of American politics in his lifetime. (New York Review of Books)

Robert Becker, a cousin of the late W. S. Merwin, is a key figure on the leadership team maintaining and expanding the Merwin Conservancy. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The New York Times recommends sixteen new books forthcoming in November, including Barack Obama’s highly-anticipated new memoir, A Promised Land