Welcome, fellow readers! This is Paige, (one of) your lovely Bookmarked editors, here to tackle this week’s Book Beat. Even though we’re still adjusting to 2018, the publishing news circuit has been especially frantic lately. Some of it is good news, while other news… could certainly be better. Let’s recap it together!
The Sound (and the Fire) and the Fury
For the past several days, the biggest news rocking the book world has been Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s biography of the Trump administration and its operations. To say it has become something of an overnight sensation would be an understatement. It nabbed the top spot on the New York Times‘ bestseller list in just one day. Bookstores and online retailers across the country are sold out of physical copies. Libraries are struggling to meet the demand. Wolff’s scratching examination of President Trump has already had a tangible societal and political effect, which includes Steve Bannon’s resignation from Breitbart and pundit predictions that this presidency is in its death throes. And the book’s only been out since last Friday!
If you haven’t gotten your copy of Fire and Fury yet, fear not – you can always find the passages on Twitter. Someone also made a wonderful pop-up summary of the book’s important points, and it’s about as hilarious (or concerning, if you’re thinking long-term) as you would expect:
I've made a pop-up easy reader version of Fire and Fury so Donald can see what all the fuss is about pic.twitter.com/xMASZUKjSn
— HappyToast ★ (@IamHappyToast) January 6, 2018
New to the Bookshelves
Despite the ubiquitousness of Fire and Fury, several other books celebrated their first book birthdays this week as well.
Veteran author Neal Shusterman just released Thunderhead, the sequel to his award-winning novel Scythe about two junior grim reapers. You can’t go wrong with Shusterman, and this latest tale promises to be just as darkly compelling as his previous work. Meanwhile, Lianne Oelke debuted Nice Try, Jane Sinner, her first YA novel described as a mashup between Daria, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, and the best reality shows on MTV. It’s been on my radar for a while, so I’m glad I can finally add it to my iPad library soon.
Our next book birthday announcement goes to Love by Matt De La Pena and Loren Long. It’s a children’s picture book, which is a bit different for Bookmarked thus far, but it’s a poignant little story about the diversity of love and its expression in children’s lives. I especially commend De La Pena for his desire to show the difficult situations that can occur in one’s childhood, as he wanted to make sure his book was relatable for a wide audience of young readers. De La Pena further discusses the necessity of including “darkness” in children’s literature in this article with TIME.
Additionally, even though it won’t hit shelves until September 25, L.L. McKinney just premiered the cover of her debut novel, A Blade So Black. As a diverse mix between Alice In Wonderland and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I can’t wait to read this epic new fantasy. Check out the cover below, and get a sneak peak of the book over at Entertainment Weekly.
Work To Do in the Writers Workshop
While long considered a necessity for craft mastery and a clear pathway to publication, many authors criticize the writers workshop as an exclusionary replication of oppressive social hierarchies against new and marginalized writers. These arguments have existed for decades, but recent controversies have reignited these discussions in the new year.
Hunger author Roxane Gay called out the organizational committee of the Midwest Writers workshop on Tuesday for its fatphobic treatment of writer and activist Sarah Hollowell, who has volunteered with the organization for several years.
I am going to call out the Midwest Writers workshop for fatphobia.
— roxane gay (@rgay) January 9, 2018
Multiple authors came to Hollowell’s defense and decried the workshop, pulling their support for all future associations and events. The Midwest Writers workshop issued a public statement yesterday in response to Gay’s comments, which you can read here.
Workshop tensions continue above the border in Canada as well. Writer Mike Spry published an exposé on the toxic state of Canadian writers workshops, specifically the one he enrolled in at Concordia University, and the culture of Canlit in general. Detailing the numerous examples of harassment and sexual misconduct perpetrated by male writers and professors in power, Spry’s contribution serves as a harrowing addition to our society’s recent conversations on harassment against women in the workplace and in creative spaces.
Brown Girl Dreaming of Ambassadorship
Finally, to end on a happier note, critically acclaimed author Jacqueline Woodson has just been named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for the 2018-2019 cycle!
Her ambassadorship platform will be “Reading = Hope x Change,” which she chose because “reading can change us and shape us in so many ways, and through it we can be exposed to people and places and ideas that we might not otherwise come across or confront in real life.” Some of her immediate goals in her new role include reaching readers in traditionally underserved regions of the country, such as juvenile detention centers and poor schools, as well as removing negative stigmas against young readers based on their genre preferences and reading levels.
Woodson is one of my favorite authors, and I can’t think of anyone better suited for this role than her. Her commitment to diversity and inclusivity in the literary community is well-known, and I’m excited to see what she does as the nation’s new ambassador. Plus, she looks so happy being officially appointed! So well-deserved.
— Carla Hayden (@LibnOfCongress) January 9, 2018