Zadie Smith on the Power of Fiction, Ocean Vuong’s Reading List, 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.

“Has fiction, over the centuries, been the creator of compassion or a vehicle for containment? I think we can make both cases.” In an essay for the New York Review of Books, Zadie Smith considers our evolving understanding of the stakes of fiction writing: the contemporary dialogue on cultural appropriation, the rational fear of misrepresentation, but her enduring belief in the form and its possibilities for freedom. 

Ocean Vuong shares ten books that informed his creative development and the writing of his debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. The list includes David Wojnarowicz’s Close to the Knives, Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, and more. (Literary Hub)

At the Paris Review Daily, Leslie Jamison talks to Kaveh Akbar about her new book, Make It Scream, Make It Burn; grace; surprise; and “rigorous loving.” (Paris Review Daily)

Ben Lerner complicates the category “poet’s novel” in an analysis of The Hanky of Pippin’s Daughter by Rosmarie Waldrop, which was first published in 1986. (New Yorker)

In an interview for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Naomi Klein discusses the compounding forces of climate change and fascism, and why the Green New Deal is a way forward. 

Longtime journalist turned bestselling fiction writer, Chris Hammer talks to the Guardian about his new book, Silver; discipline; and ruthless revision. 

Is fiction ghostwriting on the rise? Forbes talks to Gotham Ghostwriters about its new creative writing division and what might be driving demand.  

In a conversation at the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses his debut novel, The Water Dancer, and the emotional lives of enslaved people often obscured in public memory and narratives. “It’s very, very important to me that you have some picture of not just what was done to these people but what they did.”