London Book Heist, George Saunders’s Debut Novel, 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:

“But I would say the artist’s number one job is to fight for the idea that art can be basically useless if it wants to be. It’s a place of complete freedom. In this moment, if someone wanted to write a 400-page book about the creation of doilies, they should go for it. You have to protect that right or else art falls into propaganda.” Electric Literature interviews George Saunders, whose debut novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, came out yesterday. Read an in-depth interview with Saunders in the March/April issue of Poets & Writers Magazine, out today.

In related news, Publishing Perspectives covers the production process behind the short virtual-reality film the New York Times released to accompany Saunders’s novel. The film, which can be viewed online and through a virtual-reality headset, recreates the cemetery and many of the spirits President Lincoln encounters in the novel.

London police have confirmed that in late January three thieves stole 160 books from a London warehouse by boring holes into a glass skylight and rappelling down into the building. The books, which include texts by Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and da Vinci, are estimated to be worth £2 million. (Guardian)

Julie Bosman reports on how bookstores across the country have entered the political fray by hosting protests and giving out free books. (New York Times)

Penguin Random House has launched a new social-media initiative, #UnitedStatesOfBooks, which celebrates the literary spirit of the United States with Instagram posts of a book and object that is representative of each of the fifty states. The campaign kicked off with a post for Delaware that included a bottle of Dogfish Head IPA beer and Cristina Henríquez’s novel The Book of Unknown Americans.

Phillip Pullman announced that the first book in his new trilogy, The Book of Dust, will be released in October. The trilogy, which Pullman has been working on for more than a decade, will take place in the same fictional world as his popular young-adult series, “His Dark Materials.” (Publishers Weekly)

Morgan Parker talks with Nylon about black womanhood; how she used to hate poetry; and her latest collection, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, which came out yesterday from Tin House Books.

“What Tsiang lacked in public acclaim or attention, however, he made up for in sheer, convention-busting audaciousness.” A hundred years after the 1917 Immigration Act was signed into law in the United States, Floyd Cheung revisits the impact of Chinese activist and writer H. T. Tsiang. (Margins)