W. W. Norton Pauses Support for Blake Bailey’s Book Due to Sexual Assault Allegations, O. Henry Prizewinners, and More

by Staff
4.22.21

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.

W. W. Norton has stated it will cease shipments and promotion of Blake Bailey’s book on Philip Roth due to sexual assault allegations against the biographer. In addition to those allegations recently reported in the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate, publishing executive Valentina Rice has come forward and stated Bailey raped her in 2015. A few years later, Rice used a pseudonym to write to Julia A. Reidhead, the president of W. W. Norton, to report the assault, but did not receive a direct response from Reidhead. The note was, however, forwarded to Bailey, who wrote to Rice and refuted the allegations. A spokesperson for the publisher commented: “We did take steps, including asking Mr. Bailey about the allegations, which he categorically denied, and we were mindful of the sender’s request for a guarantee of anonymity.” (New York Times)

The winners of this year’s O. Henry Prizes, which honor outstanding short stories published in literary periodicals, have been revealed. The twenty winning stories will be collected in a single volume and published by Anchor Books in September. For the first time in the prize’s history, the editors considered stories in translation. The prize also introduced a new guest editor system, “so that each edition can reflect one brilliant artist’s unique vision.” This cycle, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie joined series editor Jenny Minton Quigley to select the winning stories. (Literary Hub)

Untold Stories of Liberation and Love—a poetry collective by and for women of color in Ypsilanti, Michigan—has been at work on a new zine, Ypsi On My Mind. The zine is just one of the collective’s recent projects conceived to support women writers of color during the pandemic. (Concentrate)

“I realized that this is what I needed, a personal relationship. Once you meet the right people it takes so much worry off your mind.” Margaret F. Chen recalls a positive experience self-publishing with Opus, which is operated by Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C. (Kirkus)

“Unlike the cozy bookstore in your town, online booksellers don’t choose each book they’re offering. The role of curator—if it exists at all—has effectively been passed from seller to customer.” Ron Charles writes about the piecemeal database management at major online book retailers, such as Bookshop.org and Amazon. (Washington Post)

“Reading it, I couldn’t recover the person I’d been back then, or whatever I might have been trying to encode into the sentences. So, working on this book has felt a lot like editing somebody else’s stories.” Garielle Lutz discusses repurposing old materials in order to write her new story collection, Worsted. (Rumpus)

Mary Norris describes a new exhibit on English grammarians and grammar books as “the Grammarama ride at Disneyland for Nerds.” (New Yorker)

Penguin Random House has hired Kimberly Ayers Shariff to serve as its first executive vice president, director of strategy for diversity, equity, and inclusion. (Publishers Lunch)