RITA Awards Canceled, New York Times Book Review Launches New Column, 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 Romance Writers of America (RWA) has canceled its 2020 RITA Awards after numerous judges and entrants withdrew from the competition in protest of the organization’s recent actions against romance author Courtney Milan. In December, the RWA announced it would suspend Milan from the organization for one year and bar her from leadership positions in perpetuity; the decision was made partially in response to an ethics complaint filed by romance author Kathryn Lynn Davis, who claimed Milan hurt her career by calling out racist stereotypes in her work. Met with widespread criticism, the RWA ultimately rescinded this decision, but continues to face backlash for its lack of transparency in the handling of the case. (Guardian)

The New York Times Book Review has announced a new column to help readers kickstart book clubs: Group Text. Every month, Elisabeth Egan will recommend a new release and provide discussion questions and suggestions for further reading.

“I still don’t know how to write what I think of as a real or traditional novel; even within the realm of a short story, I struggle with plot.” Miranda Popkey talks to Literary Hub about the unconventional structure of her debut novel, Topics of Conversation

Benjamin Nugent reflects on his experience interviewing George Saunders for the Paris Review. He recalls his own journey as a writer—his various attempts to imitate Saunders, and how his understanding of the exercise (and of Saunders’ writing) has shifted over the years. (Paris Review Daily)

An interview with George Saunders appeared in the March/April issue of Poets & Writers Magazine in 2017.

“I have to let the dark stuff in too or it’s just not going to be a very full portrait.” James Arthur discusses engaging with questions of psychology and sociology in his most recent poetry collection, The Suicide’s Son. (Los Angeles Review of Books)

ZORA has curated a list of one hundred books by African American women authors, featuring titles from 1859 to 2019. 

The judges for the 2020 Booker Prize have been announced. Lee Child, Margaret Busby, Lemn Sissay, Sameer Rahim, and Emily Wilson will make up the jury. (BBC News) 

Leah Schnelbach recommends five science fiction and fantasy books to read this year. (Book Marks)