Iris Murdoch’s Legacy, Amazon Responds to Criticism, and More


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.

“To allow her name to fade from the list of the most elite writers in English of the second half of the twentieth century is to begin to take our bearings from the wrong landmarks.” One hundred years after Iris Murdoch’s birth, Dwight Garner asks why the prolific novelist and writer’s reputation is in “semi-shambles.” (New York Times)

Amazon has responded to the New York Times’s charge that the tech giant’s lax approach to policing its website has spurred a flood of counterfeit books. In a blog post, Amazon stated that the company takes “proactive steps to drive counterfeits in our stores to zero.” (Publishers Weekly)

The Orwell Foundation has named two books about the Troubles in Northern Ireland the winners of its 2019 prizes for political writing. Anna Burns’s novel Milkman won the inaugural award for fiction, while Patrick Radden Keefe’s book Say Nothing won the nonfiction award. The £3,000 (approximately $3,806) awards were announced yesterday—the late George Orwell’s birthday. (Guardian)

In the past week, Pulitzer Prize–winner and former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove has seen her lifetime of work honored twice. Last week the City College of New York named Dove the recipient of its 2019 Langston Hughes Medal, to be presented on November 14. This week the Hurston/right Foundation announced Dove as the winner of the organization’s highest honor, the North Star Award for career accomplishment and inspiration to the writing community. The foundation also announced that Glory Edim, founder of the Well-Read Black Girl book club, will receive the Madam C. J. Walker Award for her dedication to supporting and sustaining Black literature. The Hurston/Wright awards will be presented at the 2019 Legacy Awards Ceremony on October 18.

Two copies for the Brontë sisters, two million for Gillian Flynn: Literary Hub considers the first year of sales for (now) famous books.

“The original memory is like the crime scene. And they say: Don’t walk on it! By writing it, you’re walking on the crime scene and you’re changing it by the very act of writing about it.” Novelist, essayist, and translator Lore Segal on the moral minefield of writing. (Paris Review)

The Los Angeles Times remembers Holly Prado, the poet, novelist, and educator who championed the Los Angeles literary scene. Prado died earlier this month, at the age of eighty-one.

“I get that as an audience—whether a reader or a journalist or a jury—you want a clear, explicit, detailed narrative. But, as I hope I help elucidate a little in the book, that desire is impossibly complicated to fulfill.” Poet Samantha Giles talks to the Rumpus about trying to convey the illegibility of trauma and memory in her new collection, Total Recall.