Mobile Refugee Library, Laila Lalami on Assimilation, 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:

Two women have turned an old minibus into a mobile library for refugees in Greece. The vehicle holds 1,300 books, welcomes 115 readers a week, and has created a space for refugees to read and find community. (Guardian)

“For those who believe that assimilation is a matter of identity—as many on the far right do—nothing short of the abandonment of all traces of your heritage will do.” Laila Lalami considers what assimilation means in America. (New York Times)

Novelist Alissa Nutting shares a week’s diet, which includes copious amounts of Diet Coke, chips, and beer, while on the road promoting her new novel, Made for Love. (Grub Street)

Listen to Nutting read from Made for Love, which was featured in Page One: Where New & Noteworthy Books Being in the latest issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

The New York Times visits writer and former gossip columnist Jeannette Walls at her home on a horse farm in Virginia. A movie adaptation of Walls’s best-selling memoir, The Glass Castle, about her unconventional childhood spent on the road and in poverty, will be released this week.

Publishers Weekly breaks down the dip in book sales in 2016, which were 5.1 percent lower than in 2015. Adult fiction sales fell 7.8 percent, while sales of religious books and fiction for children and young adults rose 6.9 and 6.7 percent, respectively.

“It is disingenuous to collect a variety of traumatic narratives and present them to the West as a kind of feminist ethnography under the mantle of confession, while only vaguely acknowledging those whose stories inspired the poetry.” Chiara Giovanni argues that poet Rupi Kaur’s stated attempts to speak for oppressed South Asian female voices are problematic. Kaur’s 2014 poetry collection, milk and honey, sold over a million copies. (BuzzFeed)

Anna Solomon points out a trend in book covers of titles by women featuring “headless women” and “sexy backs,” and how these covers are “code for ‘women’s fiction’—i.e. breezy, easy, accessible.” (Millions)

NPR interviews David LaBounty about the First Line, the literary quarterly he cofounded with his wife, Robin Labounty, in 1999. The quarterly publishes stories and poems that all start with the same line, provided by the magazine staff.