Los Angeles Times Book Prize and PEN/Faulkner Finalists, Historic London Library Faces Closure, 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.

The Los Angeles Times has revealed the shortlists for its annual literary awards, which include the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction. The Times also announced the recipients of three special awards: The Book Industry Charitable Foundation will receive the Innovator’s Award, Leslie Marmon Silko will receive the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement, and Andrew O’Hagan has earned the Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose for his latest novel, Mayflies.

Five books have been selected as finalists for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction: The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw, Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear by Matthew Salesses, The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe, Mother Daughter Widow Wife by Robin Wasserman, and Scattered Lights by Steve Wiegenstein. The winner of the $15,000 prize will be revealed on April 6. (Publishers Weekly)

Writer Kate Thompson speaks out against proposals to reduce the opening hours or close Bethnal Green Library in east London. She reminds the public of the library’s unique history, including when its staff set up an underground library in a nearby tube station during World War II. (Guardian)

In personnel news, Mensah Demary has been named editor in chief of Soft Skull Press, succeeding Yuka Igarashi, who is moving to Graywolf Press. Meanwhile, Scribner promoted Sally Howe and Sarah Goldberg from associate editors to editors. (Publishers Lunch)

“At some point in the last decade, platform went from being a writer’s ability to reach the right audience to their ability to reach that audience via social media.” Courtney Maum writes about navigating the pressure to develop a social media presence as an author. (Medium)

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation is accepting applications to its higher education scholarship program until April 15. Seven $3,500 scholarships will be awarded to booksellers, comic shop employees, or their dependents. (Shelf Awareness)

“Try spending some time each day with a poem. Don’t worry too much about what anything means at first. Instead, just try to find the poem speaking inside you.” Tess Taylor recommends poetry as a salve for isolation. (PBS NewsHour)

Minari left me deeply moved. I enjoyed parsing the structure, the way it seemed to be a story, for example, about how all of the family members were starting over.” Alexander Chee finds himself reflected in Lee Isaac Chung’s latest film, Minari. (Medium)