Vilcek Foundation Literature Prizes Announced, On Gatekeeping in the Publishing Industry, 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 Vilcek Foundation has announced the recipients of its 2020 Literature Prizes given to “immigrants who have made outstanding contributions in contemporary literature.” Edwidge Danticat has received the $100,000 Vilcek Prize for Literature, and Yaa Gyasi, Valeria Luiselli, and Jenny Xie have won the $50,000 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Literature. (Yahoo)

At Gay Mag, Latinx author Wendy C. Ortiz challenges the publishing industry to take a hard look at “its racism and small-mindedness about who gets published and who does not; who gets massive advances and who does not.” She calls out the industry for giving a seven-figure advance to white author Kate Elizabeth Russell for her forthcoming debut novel, My Dark Vanessa, while rejecting Ortiz’s memoir, Excavation—which Ortiz asserts has “eerie story similarities” with Russell’s novel—in 2013 on the claim that it wouldn’t sell well. “It appears that once again a white woman has written a fictional experience of a subject and publishers find it more palatable, worthy, and marketable than when a writer of color writes it from lived experience,” writes Ortiz.

Meanwhile at Slate, Rachelle Hampton chronicles the controversy surrounding My Dark Vanessa, including Russell’s response to Ortiz’s essay.

“Queen of suspense” Mary Higgins Clark died on Friday at the age of ninety-two. Higgins Clark wrote dozens of best-selling crime novels, as well as children’s books, a memoir, and short stories. (Washington Post)

Jenna Bush Hager has selected Abi Daré’s debut novel, The Girl With the Louding Voice, as her February book club pick. (Today)

Daré speaks with the New York Times about writing the book in pidgin English, the importance of education, and the divide between the poor and the rich in Nigeria.

In honor of Black History Month, USA Today recommends ten recently published books by Black authors, including Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age, Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, and Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist.

“I do not understand literary creation without mixing, without travel, without hybridization and without dialogues between cultures.” Writer and critic Jorge Carrión on his creative triggers, his role as a cultural critic to “guide and to connect,” and his obsessions. (Creative Independent)