MacArthur Fellowships Announced, Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Shortlist, and More

by Staff
9.29.21

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.

Hanif Abdurraqib, Daniel Alarcón, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Don Mee Choi, Ibram X. Kendi, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor are among this year’s MacArthur Fellowship recipients. Each recipient of the “Genius” award receives an unrestricted grant of $625,000. (New York Times)

The shortlist for this year’s Center for Fiction First Novel Prize has been revealed. The seven finalists are The City of Good Death by Priyanka Champaneri, Swimming Back to Trout River by Linda Rui Feng, The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith, No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood, Brood by Jackie Polzin, and The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade. The winner of the $15,000 prize will be announced on December 7.

Thanks to renewed support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Literary Arts Emergency Fund—which was established last year by the Academy of American Poets, Community of Literary Magazines and Presses, and National Book Foundation—will open for a second round of applications in November. The fund will distribute $4.3 million to eligible literary organizations and publishers.

Beloved publicist Gregory Henry died on September 17 at age forty-eight. He most recently served as a senior publicist for Melville House. “We’re still in a state of shock,” said Denis Johnson, the publisher of Melville House. “I think the astonishing, industry-wide outpouring of grief and affection for him that we’re seeing on social media gives you some sense of how talented a guy he was, how sweet a human being, and why we were lucky for our time with him.” (Publishers Weekly)

Anthony Doerr traces his latest novel, Cloud Cuckoo Land, back to its sources of inspiration: great horned owls, the Greek alphabet, an Enlightenment-era architectural drawing, and more. (Entertainment Weekly)

“Among writers, there’s a sense that pop culture weighs down ‘serious’ art—like we’re afraid of burdening our work with specific markers of the moment.” Sanjena Sathian discusses using the reality series The Bachelor as a device within her short story “The Missing Limousine.” (Atlantic)

“If you go by what we bookish types say, every fall is the best ever for new titles.” Critic Bethanne Patrick recommends ten forthcoming books for fall reading, including On Animals by Susan Orlean and The Days of Afrekete by Asali Solomon. (Washington Post)

“This month, I’m seeing bold blocks of color, fun with shapes, and a few different takes on pattern and cutouts.” Emily Temple of Literary Hub surveys the book covers of September releases.