How to Navigate Rights in Book Contracts, Demand for Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Catalogue, 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.

“Your rights are your rights. They do not belong to the publisher until you grant them to the publisher.” Literary agent Kate McKean offers advice to authors on how to navigate rights and subsidiary rights. (Don’t Write Alone)

Booksellers and publishers are struggling to meet the demand for copies of Abdulrazak Gurnah’s books precipitated by his Nobel win. Alexandra Alter of the New York Times reports on the delay and recaps which U.S. publishers have published or will publish his work. Riverhead Books recently acquired the U.S. rights to three of Gurnah’s titles, including his most recent novel, Afterlives.

“I wanted to really understand what the word was made of linguistically, what materials constructed its meanings, and what one’s mouth had to do in order to speak it.” Poet Jonah Mixon-Webster seeks to understand “what is truly present in and represented by the N-word,” and considers how Black communities and artists are reshaping its meaning. (Harriet)

Ron Charles of the Washington Post decries Republican politicians in Virginia for raising objections to Toni Morrison’s Beloved as part of ongoing attempts to control what literature is taught in schools. “It’s likely that Murphy, Youngkin and their fellow Republicans don’t realize that they’re echoing nineteenth-century White readers who demanded that stories about the abuses of slavery defer to their delicate tastes.”

“You can only write a novel about a public figure if there is a distinction to be made between the masks they wear and their inner selves, which is probably inauthentic too.” Colm Tóibín explains his fascination with Thomas Mann, who is the subject of his latest novel, The Magician. (Believer)

The University of Toronto Press has hired Jessica Mosher to serve as president, publisher, and CEO. She brings leadership experience from two other education-focused publishers, Nelson and Pearson. (Publishers Weekly)

Emily Temple of Literary Hub delves into the origins of “It was a dark and stormy night.”