paper trail

National Book Award finalists announced; Talia Lavin’s new newsletter on the Far Right and sandwiches

Talia Lavin. Photo: Yonit Lavin

Talia Lavin, author of Culture Warlords, is starting a “tri-weekly” Substack newsletter, The Sword and the Sandwich, with editor David Swanson. The plan, as Lavin announced it: “I’ll be writing about the far right (and the anti-vaxx movement, and white nationalism). And sandwiches. Seriously, I’m going to go through Wikipedia’s List of Notable Sandwiches in alphabetical order and write about it.”

The National Book Foundation has announced the twenty-five finalists for the National Book Awards, which awards winners in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, translation, poetry, and people’s literature. Among the finalists are Lauren Groff for Matrix, Hanif Abdurraqib for A Little Devil in America, Grace M. Cho for Tastes Like War, and Jackie Wang for The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void.

Supply-chain issues caused by the COVID pandemic are beginning to seriously affect the book industry. Publishers are postponing pub dates for new books and are having trouble keeping older books in stock. Bookstores are running out of copies of popular books, which are difficult to replenish. And there has been a surge in demand for print books—good news with bad timing. The Times reports that there is little anyone can do to fix the situation and that “no one knows when things will go back to normal, but it won’t be until long after this holiday season.”

For BuzzFeed News, Scaachi Koul asks whatever happened to the Alt-Lit writer Marie Calloway, whose 2013 debut book, what purpose did i serve in your life, was much debated before Calloway disappeared from public life.

The New York Public Library has announced that there will no longer be fines for returning books late and that all previous fines have been cleared. The library’s president, Tony Marx, explained the new policy by citing research proving that fines are ineffective in getting people to return books but keep vulnerable residents shut out of the library system. Marx said, “As New York grapples with the inequities laid bare by the pandemic, it is all the more urgent that we ensure the public library is open and freely available to all.”