Flannery O’Connor Archive Sold to Emory, Nobel Judge Condemns Western “Professionalization” of Literature, and More


Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—from publishing reports to academic announcements to literary dispatches—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories:

Emory University has acquired over thirty boxes of Flannery O’Connor’s papers and effects, which previously had only been partially available to a few scholars. The archive, which will soon be made public, includes more than six hundred letters from O’Connor to her mother, as well as early short stories, photographs, and journals. (New York Times)

In the run-up to tomorrow’s announcement of the 2014 Nobel Prize in literature, Nobel judge Horace Engdahl spoke with the French newspaper La Croix, condemning the culture of writing programs and the “professionalization” of Western literature, as well as writers’ financial dependence on grants and scholarships. “I think it cuts writers off from society, and creates an unhealthy link with institutions. Previously, writers would work as taxi drivers, clerks, secretaries, and waiters to make a living…. It was hard—but they fed themselves, from a literary perspective.” (Guardian)

At the New York Times, Alexandra Alter considers the growing market for children’s nonfiction books. In response to the recent success of young adult fiction, nonfiction writers like Laura Hillenbrand and Jon Meacham have published slimmer and less provocative versions of their biographies and history books for an even younger audience.

Bowker, a provider of bibliographic information and the official U.S. ISBN agency, has reported that more than 450,000 titles were self-published in 2013, a 16.5 percent increase from the previous year. (Publishers Weekly)

Simon & Schuster will release a collection of Bob Dylan’s song lyrics in November. British scholar Christopher Ricks edited the collection, which is over 960 pages long and includes annotations, art, and lyrics from Dylan’s thirty-three albums. Jonathan Karp, president and publisher of Simon & Schuster, described it as “the biggest, most expensive book we’ve ever published.” (New York Times)

In other music news, Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor will pen a memoir to be published in March 2016 by Penguin. (Irish Times)

As part of its effort to expand internationally, HarperCollins announced it will launch a new unit, HarperCollins Germany. The publishing house, which acquired Harlequin in May, plans to build on Harlequin’s existing offices abroad and establish new offices in Japan, Sweden, Holland, and Spain. (Publishers Weekly)

Emily Strong has solved the anagram riddle that J. K. Rowling tweeted on Monday about the author’s latest work-in-progress, a Harry Potter–related screenplay; Strong has since been dubbed by Rowling as “The One True Hermione of Twitter.” The Guardian rounds up other literary riddles from authors like James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges.