Diversity Gains at Hachette, Celebrating Asian American Literature, 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.

An investigation by the Competition & Markets Authority in the U.K. has approved the acquisition of Simon & Schuster by Bertelsmann, owner of Penguin Random House. The news helps clear the way for the $2.2 billon deal Bertelsmann made last November to acquire the publisher from ViacomCBS. The U.S. Department of Justice is still scrutinizing the deal, which many claim will lead to imbalances in the book industry. (Bookseller)

Publishers Weekly reports that 47.8 percent of the hires the Hachette Book Group made in 2020 were BIPOC. While the company also increased the number of titles it acquired by BIPOC authors and illustrators, CEO Michael Pietsch says that much more must be done to improve representation at the publisher.

In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, NPR has compiled a reading list celebrating Asian American writers, spanning genres and featuring narratives that “delve into weightier questions of race, identity, and societal pressure, yes, but are also alive in their illustrations of the ordinary—the habits, nuances and expressions of love that make us who we are.”

“Reading those books by Vietnamese diasporic writers, and editing and learning more about Vietnamese writers working now gave me the permission, or the freedom, to take my story wherever it needs to go, and not have it limited by what mainstream American literary culture would say about what the Vietnamese American experience is.” Eric Nguyen talks about his debut novel, Things We Lost to the Water, and its depiction of the Vietnamese community in New Orleans. (Chicago Review of Books)

“Though Phase Six was almost entirely completed before the current pandemic became a full-fledged disaster, the novel pushes on a number of sharp wounds created by extremely recent history.” Bradley Babendir reviews Jim Shepard’s new novel and considers what happens when life imitates art. (Los Angeles Times)

For Electric Literature, Ben Philippe discusses his memoir-in-essays, Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend: Notes From the Other Side of the Fist Bump, and “the quirks and maybe the light trauma of having been the Black friend in white spaces.”

“The porridges in Undset’s book are good and nourishing but plain (though in one scene, a young Kristin eats hers with ‘thick cream’ off her father’s spoon). Mine, on the other hand, were ridiculous.” Valerie Stivers recreates the foods of Sigrid Undset’s medieval historical romance Kristin Lavransdatter in the latest installment of her Eat Your Words series. (Paris Review Daily)