Lin-Manuel Miranda Rescues a Bookstore, the Story Prize Finalists, and More 

by Staff

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.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and three of his Hamilton collaborators—Thomas Kail, Jeffrey Seller, and James L. Nederlander—have bought New York City’s Drama Book Shop, saving the beloved store from closure. As well as stocking scripts and books about theater and film, the Drama Book Shop houses its own black box theater, and hosts readings, classes, and book signings. (NPR)

You Know You Want This, the much-anticipated debut short story collection by Kristen Roupenian, author of “Cat Person,” the New Yorker’s second-most-read piece in 2017, has received its first reviews, in the New York Times (“This is a dull, needy book”) and Slate (“Will readers who identified with ‘Cat Person’ be turned off by Kristen Roupenian’s weirder, pervier debut collection?”).

The finalists for this year’s Story Prize are Jamel Brinkley for A Lucky Man, Deborah Eisenberg for Your Duck Is My Duck, and Lauren Groff for Florida. The winner of the $20,000 prize, which honors outstanding books published the previous year, will be announced on February 28.

Read an excerpt from Jamel Brinkley’s A Lucky Man in First Fiction 2018, and listen to Lauren Groff read from Florida on Episode 20 of Ampersand: The Poets & Writers Podcast.

“We are ‘the caretakers of the dignity of the species,’” said W. J. T. Mitchell, editor of Critical Inquiry, while discussing the importance of small literary journals with Novel editor Nancy Armstrong; Helena Gurfinkel, editor of Papers on Language and Literature; and Early American Literature advisory editor Sandra M. Gustafson at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association. (Inside Higher Ed)

For more on the work that goes into small publications, read “No Slush Piles: Notes From A Literary Journal Editor” by Stephen Corey, editor of the Georgia Review. (Poets & Writers Magazine)

“We live in a world of wildly shifting norms, proliferating dangers, unstable systems and leaders—a world, in other words, in which the future’s menace feels more or less imminent.” At Vulture, Cody Delistraty considers what the “dystopian novel” means today.

At the New York Times, meanwhile, Brian Morton asks us to pause before rejecting writers of earlier generations for their opinions. “When we pick up an old novel, we’re not bringing the novelist into our world and deciding whether he or she is enlightened enough to belong here; we’re journeying into the novelist’s world and taking a look around.”

Is J. K. Rowling suggesting that the best writers are Gryffindors? (Guardian)

The Millions offers a list of six notable books of poetry publishing in January, including Dorianne Laux’s Only as the Day Is Long: New and Selected Poems; the Washington Post recommends new voices in poetry, including Kristen Tracy’s Half-Hazard.