Friday Lit News Roundup

As always in our weekly Lit News, we open with a little eye candy and then round up the relevant headlines and important discussions taking place around literature and publishing. We also announce Lookout and Ecotone author accolades, and remind you of what you might have missed on the blog that week.

Thanks to our friends over at Pomegranate Books in Wilmington for this terrific display of our IPPY-winning story anthology Astoria to Zion. Stop by to see it for yourself and don’t forget to buy an armload of books while you’re there. (Booksellers, send a photo of a Lookout title on display in your store, and we’ll post it here.)


Farewell, and brava! This week marks the end of Natasha Trethewey’s tenure as U.S. poet laureate, a position that she has held for the past two years.

The Center for Fiction announced that it will present its annual Maxwell E. Perkins Award to literary agent Nicole Aragi. Ms. Aragi represents Junot Díaz, Edwidge Danticat, Julie Otsuka, Nathan Englander, Denis Johnson, Colson Whitehead, Anne Carson, Hannah Tinti, Claire Vaye Watkins, Chris Ware, Jonathan Safran Foer, Rebecca Makkai, and Brady Udall, among others.

Why take it from us when you can consult a debut novelist? Ted Thompson’s smart and thoughtful column Ask a Debut Novelist offers excellent advice on the book business, including this answer to why our process is so darn slow: “Getting a book into the world, it turns out, is an enormous endeavor, one based, still, on old-fashioned person-to-person communication. Yes, a book can be physically produced in a handful of weeks, but it takes a human being reading it, understanding how to talk about it, and suggesting it in person to another human being for your book to actually make it into the world.”

This article might be a few weeks old, but we think the topic deserves more discussion. In the New Yorker, Junot Díaz talks about the lack of people of color in MFA programs and writes, “I didn’t have a great workshop experience. Not at all… In my workshop what was defended was not the writing of people of color but the right of the white writer to write about people of color without considering the critiques of people of color.”

Finally, we’re thrilled to announce that sentence wizard Ben Miller made the shortlist for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, which honors the Saroyan literary legacy of originality, vitality, and stylistic innovation. A fitting tribute to Ben’s imaginative memoir in essays, River Bend Chronicle: The Junkification of a Boyhood Idyll Amid the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa. The prize recognizes works of both fiction and nonfiction and will be awarded in each category later this summer. Fingers crossed, Ben!


Missed this week’s posts? You can always catch up on our digital broadsides, featuring excerpts from Lookout titles, on the Pinterest board.

Also, author Rebecca Makkai shared her funny magazine policy, book cover weakness, and her fascination with bog mummies in this week’s Seven Questions.