Seattle Tops Well-Read Cities List, Thin-Slice Historical Fiction, 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:

Seattle is America’s most well-read city, according to an annual list released by The list ranks cities with more than 500,000 residents based on their per-capita purchases of books and periodicals. (Business Wire)

Do you need more Beat-writer-punk-psychedelic music in your collection? If so, you’re in luck. Canadian musician King Khan has set audio of William S. Burroughs reading “obscene passages” from his 1959 novel Naked Lunch to music, resulting in a thirteen-song “psychedelic spoken word album.” The album, Let Me Hang You, will be released July 15 on Khan’s record label. (Independent)

At New Statesman, a writer explains why it is problematic for booksellers and readers to treat translated fiction as its own genre. “By giving translated fiction a separate section in bookshops and online stores and suggesting it is possible to ‘like’ translated fiction, just as one might like crime or sci-fi, booksellers imply that there is something that unites all of these books. Yet it is the broadest possible category.”

James Carver, brother of famed fiction writer Raymond Carver, writes a tribute to the late author and reflects on their lives together. (Electric Literature)

After an almost year-long global campaign advocating her release, Azerbaijani reporter Khadija Ismayilova has been freed from prison. Ismayilova was originally sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for her investigative work that linked Azerbaijani corruption to the highest rungs of the Azeri government, including President Ilham Aliyev. (

At Signature, best-selling historical fiction writer Erik Larson discusses his approach to writing about history—what he calls “thin-slice history”—and how he selects topics to write about based on their novelistic qualities.

Actor and writer B. J. Novak talks about democratizing writing, the influence of his father’s career as a ghostwriter on his own path, and his thoughts about actors playing writers in movies: “Nothing bothers me more in a movie than an actor playing a writer, and you just know he’s not a writer…Ethan Hawke is too hot to be a writer.” (New York Times)