National Book Award Finalists, Revisiting John Updike, and More


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 National Book Foundation has announced the twenty-five finalists for the 2019 National Book Awards for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature, and young people’s literature. The finalists include four debuts, two of which are listed in the fiction category: Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips and Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine. Sarah M. Broom’s debut, The Yellow House, is shortlisted for the nonfiction prize. (Vanity Fair)

“Offensive criticism of him is often reductive, while defensive criticism has a strong flavour of people-are-being-mean-to-my-dad.” At the London Review of Books, Patricia Lockwood leaves “blood on the ceiling” in a review of John Updike, with commentary on titles from throughout his career. 

Dan Wells, publisher of Biblioasis, talks about Lucy Ellmann’s Booker-shortlisted novel Ducks, Newburyport and shares details about the title’s printings and sales. “If Biblioasis is given a footnote in the history of publishing and remembered for anything, it will be for publishing this book.” (Publishers Weekly)

Kim Michele Richardson has noted uncanny similarities between her historical novel The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and Jojo Moyes’s The Giver of Stars. Richardson is not currently pursuing legal action, but BuzzFeed News interviewed Richardson and published her copyright complaints online

Jess Row, author of White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination, talks to the Millions about empathy discourse, whiteness in MFA curricula, and how to move forward.

Saeed Jones appears on NPR to discuss his memoir, How We Fight For Our Lives. In conversation with host Sam Sanders, Jones discusses inviting readers into his experience, and depicting internalized homophobia and violence on the page. “We say the mean thing first, before anyone else can say it.”

Heather Rose shares what she loves about Tasmania—her family’s home for seven generations and the setting of the majority of her stories—and discusses her latest novel, Bruny. (Guardian)