Liu Xiaobo Dies at Sixty-One, Publishing Vets Launch New Imprint, 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:

Chinese dissident, writer, literary critic, and Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo died today in Shenyang, China, at age sixty-one. Xiaobo, a fierce supporter of free speech who famously kept vigil on Tiananmen Square in 1989 to protect student protestors, had been imprisoned since 2009 for protesting the Chinese government and advocating for democracy; he was moved to a hospital on medical parole in June after his liver cancer was beyond treatment. (New York Times)

Liu Xia, Liu Xiaobo’s wife, remains under house arrest. Listen to some of her poetry, read by translator Ming Di, from the November/December 2015 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Publishing industry veterans Jamie Raab and Deb Futter will start a new imprint at Macmillan, Celadon Books, which will publish fiction and nonfiction. The New York Times reports that Raab and Futter, who both left Grand Central Publishing last December after their contracts expired, were eager to return to editing and acquiring books and leave behind the bureaucratic challenges of running a large imprint.

The Center for Fiction has announced the longlist for its $10,000 2017 First Novel Prize.

Meanwhile, Gabe Hudson offers a guide for turning in your debut novel thirteen years late, after going down the “Unproductive Writer’s Hole.” (Literary Hub)

An exhibit featuring Agatha Christie’s private letters will open later this month at a crime writing festival in the United Kingdom. The letters reveal the publishing minutia behind Christie’s books: her frustration from being needled about her author photo, her battles over book covers, and her close bond with her publisher at HarperCollins. (Guardian)

Fiction writer Akhil Sharma meditates on why he now hates his most-lauded short story, which was inspired by his affair with a married woman that started when he was a teenager. (New Yorker)

“You’re not looking for a buddy, a confidante, or a yes-man. Chumminess is optional. Agents are often highly weird book-shilling savants who have rich friends and got invited to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.” At Catapult, Tony Tulathimutte offers advice on how to find a literary agent, including using the “nice plump database” maintained by Poets & Writers.

The Los Angeles Times reports on Immortal Perfumes, which since 2012 has been making perfumes inspired by literature with scents like Pemberley, inspired by Pride & Prejudice; Sylvia, inspired by The Bell Jar; and Catherine and Heathcliff, his-and-her scents inspired by Wuthering Heights.