MacArthur Genius Grants, the Rise of Feminist Dystopian Fiction, 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:

Poet Natalie Diaz, fiction and nonfiction writer John Keene, and fiction writer Kelly Link have received 2018 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships. They will each receive $625,000 over five years. The annual grants are given to “encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.” Read more about the winners at the G&A Blog.

The Atlantic looks at the rise of dystopian feminist fiction, including recent books by Louise Erdrich, Leni Zumas, and Bina Shah—whose fictional worlds increasingly seem all too real.

“His lies and self-serving exaggerations (words matter to us writers), as well as his snarling hostility toward women with the temerity to question him, don’t suggest a person who is deeply committed to the principles of fairness, or, for that matter, objective truth.” In advance of the vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, more than eighty writers from Maine—including Stephen King, Michael Chabon, Ann Packer, Christina Baker Kline, and Jonathan Lethem—have sent a letter to Senator Susan Collins urging her to vote “No.” (Portland Press Herald)

Meanwhile, in an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition, author Rebecca Traister talks about how the hearings relate to her new book, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger

“I hear what’s roaring in the silence of this line.” And at the Paris Review, novelist Idra Novey writes about the silence of sexual assault in literature in the wake of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony.

Novelist Angela Flourney profiles Moonlight director Barry Jenkins about his forthcoming adaptation of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk. (New York Times Magazine)

“I’m not into shame.” Man Booker Prize finalist Rachel Kushner on the books that shaped her life and writing career—and the ones she’s not ashamed to have missed. (Guardian)

“The language is so grotesque and damaging and fascinating.” In a new multimedia interview series at Guernica called Miscellaneous Files, English novelist Olivia Laing uses screenshots—of Tweets, notebooks, and a novel-mapping board (which she says resembles a “serial killer wall”)—to illustrate her writing process.

Lang’s debut novel, Crudo, published last month by Norton, pays tribute to the late experimental writer Kathy Acker. (New York Times)