Highs and Lows in the Publishing Industry, Jess Zimmerman on Not-Reading, and More

by Staff
12.29.20

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.

Elizabeth A. Harris of the New York Times shares an end-of-year report on the publishing industry. The pandemic, among other factors, has led to an unusual and unbalanced year: Independent bookstores and educational publishers are struggling to stay afloat, even though print, audiobook, and e-book sales are all up compared to 2019. 

“Every piece of bad news felt like a heavy new weight pierced through the surprisingly tender flesh of my brain. Who can make use of something so shot through with holes?” Electric Literature editor Jess Zimmerman writes about the struggle to read in 2020

“With the passage of time, you see that some people forget what happened because it didn’t happen to them. It didn’t happen to their family members; the pain was not theirs.” Laila Lalami reflects on historical erasure in America and offers a window into her writing process. (Guernica)

“It is often in the home where the plainest expressions of politics appear.” Kelly Coyne examines the white mother figure in three new novels: Luster by Raven Leilani, Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan, and Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. (Vulture)

“Of course, no single one of us can save the places we love, but we do what we can.” Bryan Washington writes about the restaurant staff and takeout orders that have buoyed him through the pandemic. (New Yorker)

“We’ll all find our better selves and our energy again on the other side.” Novelist Sonya Chung reflects on life under the pandemic. (Millions)

“Coronavirus has, once again, collapsed my cycle, scratching my lungs and tightening my heart.” Poet Alec Finlay shares his experience with COVID-19. (Harriet)

Independent booksellers share reading recommendations, highlighting The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw and Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn. (Book Marks)