Notes on Survival, 2020 PW Star Watch Finalists, and More

by Staff

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.

In the new issue of the Believer, Tommy Pico, Mónica de la Torre, Lucy Corin, Souvankham Thammavongsa, Emerson Whitney, Tiphanie Yanique, and Kristen Arnett share notes on survival during these troubling times. “Survival, as the following writers tell us, is a group effort,” writes Camille Bromley, an editor at the Believer​​​​​​. “It requires constant maintenance. It’s a process, a healing, a daily prayer.”

Publishers Weekly has announced the finalists for its 2020 PW Star Watch, which honors “up-and-comers in the U.S. and Canadian publishing communities.” The finalists are Nicole Counts of One World, Nivia Evans of Orbit Books, Ryan Mita of Children’s Book Council, Quressa Robinson of Nelson Literary Agency, and Katherine Turro of Flatiron Books. 

Restructuring its education publishing program to focus on a “digital-first vision,” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has eliminated 525 positions, or 22 percent of its workforce. Publishers Weekly reports the changes do not affect the trade group. 

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has also recently discontinued three of its annual “Best American” series: Best American Comics, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Best American Sports Writing. Bill Kartalopoulos, the series editor for comics, reflects on the loss: “Comics will keenly feel the absence of an accessible, regularly-published mass market anthology that celebrates great work from diverse areas.” 

Patrick Bassett has been named CEO of Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. He succeeds Emily Powell, who will stay on as owner and president. (Bulletin

“I want to play voyeur and exhibitionist—maybe to be the voyeur of my own exhibition.” In conversation with Wayne Koestenbaum, Chris Campanioni recalls seeking “a mode of writing that insists upon transparency” in his latest book, A and B and Almost Nothing. (BOMB)

Early this year, a school district in San Bernardino County, California, voted to remove Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye from the district reading list, after receiving complaints from parents about the novel’s depictions of sexual violence. The Los Angeles Times reports on the ensuing community debate that led the book to be reinstated to the list in August. 

“A resistance to reduction has guided me in the kind of characters I’m drawn to inhabit.” Nicole Krauss discusses exploring the complexities of manhood and male-female relationships in her short story “To Be a Man.” (Atlantic)