Orwell’s 1984 Hits Amazon’s Best-Seller List, Writers on Activism, 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:

As of today, George Orwell’s 1948 dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is the top-selling book on Amazon. Sales surged after Presidential Advisor Kellyanne Conway used the phrase “alternative facts” in a recent interview. Some have connected the phrase to “newspeak,” a term used in Orwell’s novel for a fictional language meant to eliminate personal thought. (Townhall)

Philip Roth, meanwhile, considers the similarities between his 2004 novel The Plot Against America and the current presidency. In Roth’s novel, the presidency of the fictional Charles Lindbergh “upends not only politics in America but life itself.” Though Roth is aware of the similarities, he says “it is easier to comprehend the election of an imaginary president like Charles Lindbergh than an actual president like Donald Trump…. [Lindbergh] had character and substance…. Trump is just a con artist.” (New Yorker)

At Slice, creative nonfiction writer Melissa Febos and novelist Garth Greenwell discuss their political activism and how the political informs their art. Febos’s new essay on writing about personal trauma, “The Heart-Work: Writing About Trauma as a Subversive Act,” is featured in the latest issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

“As an LGBT family, we are writing content for the kids we used to be.” Married transgender authors Allison Glock and T Cooper speak with the New York Times about their young adult novel series, Changers, which explores a diverse set of teenage characters’ lives as they change identities at the beginning of each school year.

Poet Ron Padgett talks about the original poems he wrote for the new Jim Jarmusch film Paterson. “Maybe a film like Paterson will help some people say, huh, maybe I could write something like this too.” (PBS NewsHour)

“The fact that cultural capital can evidently be correlated with actual capital is another way of saying that a wall of books has nothing necessarily to do with the literary ambitions of the resident reader.” Writer and historian James McWilliams weighs in on the future of physical books, which he says will endure, but perhaps not for the right reasons. (Millions)  

At Literary Hub, Emily Temple explains how to properly celebrate Burns Night, which celebrates the birthday of Scottish poet Robbie Burns, who was born on this day in 1759.

Meanwhile, at the Guardian, Scottish writer and editor Stuart Kelly argues that Burns is not the Scottish poet who should be celebrated, as he treated women “appallingly.”