T. S. Eliot Prize Finalists, Peter Handke Responds to Critics, 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.

Ten collections have been shortlisted for the 2019 T. S. Eliot Prize for poetry. The winner of the £25,000 award—the United Kingdom’s most valuable prize for poetry—will be announced in January 2020. Shortlisted titles include Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky and Arias by Sharon Olds, who won the 2012 prize for her collection Stag’s Leap. (Guardian)

Austrian writer Peter Handke, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature last week, continues to face criticism for his support of Slobodan Milošević, the Serbian leader responsible for committing genocide in the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. On Tuesday night, Handke spoke to Austrian media and responded to being repeatedly asked about his politics. “It’s only questions like how does the world react,” he said. “Reactions to reactions to reactions. I am a writer, I come from Tolstoy, from Homer, from Cervantes. Leave me in peace and don’t ask me questions like that.” (Guardian)

Two Australian online retailers, Booktopia and Amazon Australia, have suspended sales of Ronan Farrow’s new book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators. While Amazon Australia did not respond to requests for comment, the chief executive of Booktopia confirms the company was acquiescing to warnings from lawyers representing Dylan Howard, an executive of American Media, Inc. In a letter, Howard’s lawyers notified booksellers they may pursue a defamation lawsuit that would include distributors. Farrow’s publisher, Little, Brown, responded: “That one tabloid editor may seek to suppress women’s stories by threatening booksellers only amplifies the powerful message of Mr. Farrow’s book.” (New York Times)

PEN America has announced the launch of six regional chapters in Austin, Birmingham, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, the Piedmont Region of North Carolina, and Tulsa. In a press release the organization explained the decision to expand: “After the 2016 presidential election, PEN America became convinced that the organization’s mission to both celebrate and defend free expression demanded reaching beyond the coasts.”  

James Wood considers the life and legacy of literary critic Harold Bloom, who died this week at age eighty-nine. “He wrote too much, and wrote too fast. But the powerful writer is easy to parody because of a certain strangeness and consistency.” (New Yorker)

The Library of Congress has awarded the first Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film to a documentary about Flannery O’Connor directed by Elizabeth Coffman and Mark Bosco. The accompanying $200,000 grant will help the filmmakers with postproduction costs and outreach for the film, which is set to premiere at a festival in Arkansas this Friday. (New York Times)

At the New York Times, Parul Sehgal reflects on the history of the memoir and describes the new wave of “epistolary memoirs.” She remembers James Baldwin’s The First Next Time, and turns to contemporary writers including Ta-Nehisi Coates, Kiese Laymon, and Ocean Vuong.  

Viet Thanh Nguyen talks to the Millions about The Sympathizer, his work’s reception in Vietnamese and Vietnamese American communities, and the many sacrifices of the writing life.