The History of Racial Passing in Books, Finding Work-Life Balance, and More

by Staff
10.18.21

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.

“Since the late-nineteenth century, writers have used passing as a narrative tool to do everything from encouraging white readers to sympathize with the struggles of Black characters to scrutinizing the hypocrisy of America’s racial hierarchy.” Brittany Luse examines different discussions of racial passing in books by Black women, including Nella Larsen’s Passing and Mariah Carey’s recent memoir. (Vulture)

“I am finding moments of stillness in my day which allow me to keep moving at the pace I enjoy, without burning out.” Agent Silé Edwards of Mushens Entertainment writes about what the pandemic has taught her about work-life balance. (Bookseller)

Writer and translator Jennifer Croft and novelist Mark Haddon recently cowrote an open letter calling on publishers to credit translators on book covers. Publishers Weekly reports on the campaign.

Last week the Chicago Review of Books revealed the finalists for this year’s CHIRBy Awards, which celebrate Chicago-based writers. There are three book categories—fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—as well as a category for individual essays.

“What I’m slowly coming to terms with is the fact that, for me, full-time freelancing just isn’t worth it.” Gabrielle Drolet writes about the precarity of freelance writing. (Don’t Write Alone)

“For me, at least, that’s the way that I can most honestly communicate ideas. I need to sort of situate myself within the story—tell you why I feel this way about certain conventions or certain political ideas that I might disagree with.” Jay Caspian King reflects on using the personal to ground his new book on Asian America, The Loneliest Americans. (Nation)

Erin Overbey has assembled a reading list of reviews of classic books and writers from the New Yorker archive, including pieces on Toni Morrison’s Beloved and J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

Poking fun at Farrar, Straus and Giroux’s decision to promote Sally Rooney’s latest book with a bucket hat, Ward Sutton imagines outlandish literary marketing attire, including “Margaret Atwood bonnets and cloaks.” (New York Times)