Dog-Eared and Dispatched: December 6, 2015
As bookstores look forward to the holiday sales season, readers and media reflect on the past year, including the best books, the most overlooked books, and what makes a writer worth reading. It’s also the season of fundraisers, so if you haven’t already donated to or voted for Late Night Library Library, we’d love your support. Ready? Set… Read!
Last week the Tin House blog published an essay by Claire Vaye Watkins called “On Pandering” which “was originally given as a lecture during the 2015 Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop. It was met with enthusiastic applause.” The essay looks at the way writers pander to expectations – usually the expectations of white males – in order to gain success in the literary marketplace; Watkins also points out the way failure to take women seriously as writers reflects an inability to take them seriously as human beings: “I saw, in the form of paragraphs and sentences, my area of expertise, how it took only a few lines to go from professional dismissal to sexual entitlement to being treated as property to gaslighting.” It met with enthusiastic support on the internet, too, widely shared on social media. Better still, it sparked discussion, notably a response from Booker Prize winner Marlon James, who built on Watkins’ argument by pointing out that writers of color pander to white women, or rather to the middle-aged white women who serve both as editorial gate-keepers and the primary purchasers of books, which have led some to be a bit defensive. Something to keep in mind for the coming year. [Tin House, The Guardian, The New Republic]
- Sales are down at Barnes and Noble by 4.5%, along with revenue across the board, which doesn’t look good for the chain.
- School librarians have leaked a list of books borrowed by Haruki Murakami as a schoolboy, which is not a nice thing for reader privacy.
- The Authors Guild, Authors United, Barnes and Noble, and the American Booksellers Association filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court supporting Apple.
- Lincoln Michel asks what makes popular fiction popular (or not).
- Two hundred Korean professors will been indicted for textbook plagiarism.
- ’Tis the season for the best of lists, including the “best” and/or overlooked books chosen by: the New York Times, Lit Hub, Slate, and Buzzfeed (for starters).