Nell Painter Appointed Chair of MacDowell, the Writing Life With Charles Yu, 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 MacDowell Colony announced that Nell Painter has been selected as the new chairman of the board. She is a two-time MacDowell fellow, and the author of many critically acclaimed works, including The History of White People and Old In Art School. She succeeds Michael Chabon, who held the post since December 2010. 

Adam Sternbergh profiles Charles Yu for the New York Times. He charts the author’s unique creative trajectory: Yu started out as a corporate lawyer before shifting to TV writing, all while writing short stories and novels on the side. While his fourth book, Interior Chinatown, comes out next week, Yu says he is just beginning to feel comfortable identifying as a writer. “Even to this day, it all feels a bit D.I.Y. It’s like I don’t play an instrument, I play a shoebox guitar I made in my garage.” 

Celina Su reflects on growing up between languages. Born to Taiwanese parents, but having grown up in Brazil and the United States, she remembers focusing primarily on Portuguese and English in her childhood. Now, on a trip to Taiwan, she reencounters Mandarin, marveling at the language, while also feeling frustrated that she must approach it, in some respects, as a foreigner. “To inherent snippets of histories and language, to be supposedly of but never steeped in them—this is yet another of my liminal states, an embodiment of migration, an embrace without belonging.” (Harriet)

At Literary Hub, Emily Temple has assembled a calendar of notable literary events in 2020: birthdays, anniversaries, price announcements, buzzworthy publication dates, TV adaptation premieres, and more. 

Jeff Zentner talks to the Los Angeles Review of Books about how his musical ambitions eventually evolved into a desire to write a novel for young adults. He recalls writing his debut on his phone during commutes

Edward Platt considers the political nature of travel narratives and recommends ten of his favorite political travelogues. Two highlights: The Jaguar Smile by Salman Rushdie and Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit. (Guardian)

“I was and am aware of dual identities as natural, very much tied to my being and living in America.” Aisha Sharif discusses her debut poetry collection, To Keep From Undressing, and how writing has helped enrich her understanding of intersectionality. (Rumpus)

Joanna Kavenna recommends five of her favorite works of absurdist fiction. (Book Marks)