National Book Foundation Announces 5 Under 35, Jesmyn Ward on Health Care, 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:

The National Book Foundation has announced the recipients of its annual 5 Under 35 awards, given to debut fiction writers “whose work promises to leave a lasting impression on the literary landscape.” Chosen by previous winners or finalists of the National Book Awards, the 2017 honorees are Lesley Nneka Arimah, Halle Butler, Zinzi Clemmons, Leopoldine Core, and Weike Wang.

“My extended family presents a stark picture of what it is to live in a state, in a country, that does not think that access to quality physical and mental health care is a human right.” At Harper’s, Jesmyn Ward depicts what life in Mississippi is like for those without health insurance and argues against repealing Obamacare.

After a reportedly high-stakes bidding war, Showtime has secured the adaptation rights to the forthcoming political thriller written by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. A release date for the series has not been set; Knopf and Little, Brown will copublish the book, The President Is Missing, in June 2018. (Vulture)

Felicity Dahl, Roald Dahl’s widow, revealed last week that the protagonist of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was originally black. At the New York Times, Maria Russo shares the plot of that early draft, “Charlie’s Chocolate Boy.” (Guardian)

Charse Yun considers recent controversy over Deborah Smith’s Man Booker International Prize­–winning translation of Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, which contains basic mistranslations, as well as a “strikingly different” tone and voice from the original. (Los Angeles Times)

Alex Ross considers how the Nebraska prairie and the town of Red Cloud influenced the work of writer Willa Cather. (New Yorker)

“More gay writers have begun to complicate the myth of open farmland, heterosexual masculine know-how, and pioneer spirit that stretches back to our country’s origins, and which has gone on to be recorded and revised by generations of American writers.” Poet Bruce Snider takes a look at the work of rural gay writers. (New England Review via Literary Hub)

The Guardian profiles Jennifer Egan, who shares why she loves journalism, when she decided to become a writer, and her latest novel, Manhattan Beach.