National Book Award Finalists From University Presses, Niela Orr and Ismail Muhammad in Conversation, and More

by Staff
11.2.20

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.

Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies and Jerald Walker’s How to Make a Slave and Other Essays are the first-ever National Book Award finalists at their respective publishers, West Virginia University Press and Mad Creek Books of Ohio State University Press. Publishers Weekly checked in with the two presses to learn more about their operations.

At the Believer, deputy editor Niela Orr and criticism editor Ismail Muhammed share excerpts from their correspondence in July. The pair discuss the work of writing and editing in times of crisis and injustice, and celebrate the Black creative community that sustains them. “Mostly I feel grateful to be alive and to be able to be processing this moment with you, and with everyone else,” says Orr. 

“This book is a way of saying thank you to many writers for the pleasure they’ve brought me.” Dwight Garner introduces his forthcoming book, Garner’s Quotations: A Modern Miscellany, which collects the critic’s favorite sentences from decades of reading and listening. (New York Times)

“In my callow youth, I loved to write searing critiques of really bad books.” Barbara Lane shares her guidelines for writing negative literary criticism. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Bookshop has launched its U.K. platform today. At the Guardian, Alison Flood reports on the initial reactions from the British bookselling and publishing communities. 

“How do we live in a broken time and not shut down? How do we keep faith in the people we’ve loved and the things that we believe in?” Julia Alvarez discusses the fundamental questions behind her latest novel, Afterlife. (Electric Literature)

“These books reframe climate change as a humanitarian crisis, not merely an economic one.” Amy Brady highlights five books that address the climate crisis. (Literary Hub)

Lily Meyer recommends four “otherworldly” works of fiction in translation. (NPR)