paper trail

Percival Everett on rereading novels; “n+1” editors on the problem of the contemporary American book review

Percival Everett, 2011

Online at Booth, the publication run by students and faculty of the Butler University MFA program, Brian Rocha interviews Percival Everett, the author, most recently, of the novel Telephone. They discuss Everett’s respect for place in fiction, returning to works of art to find them changed, and the publishing industry’s obsession with marketing. “The problem really is that the publishing industry is now purely marketing. It was at one point literary,” Everett says. “To me this is about art, not about racial equity in publishing. If it were all about art, a lot of those things would take care of themselves, especially if more houses had people of color working as editors. There’s a misconception that Black editors and Black publishers are there to accept Black works. But that’s not the case. They’re there to accept art.”

Following the announcement yesterday of Andrew Cuomo’s resignation as governor, Alexandra Alter looks into the questions surrounding his book deal and the ethics investigation of how government staffers were made to assist with the book. It’s unclear whether Crown, the imprint of Penguin Random House that offered Cuomo a $5 million advance for American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic, will pay the remainder of the sum. In March, the publisher announced that they would not promote the book and had canceled plans to bring out a paperback edition.

At CLMP, a reading list of work in translation written and translated by women. Picks include Time by Etel Adnan, translated by Sarah Riggs; Willow, Wine, Mirror, Moon: Women’s Poems from Tang China, translated by Jeanne Larsen; and The Last Innocence and The Lost Adventures by Alejandra Pizarnik, translated by Cecilia Rossi.

In the new issue of n+1, the editors have dedicated their “Intellectual Situation” column to diagnosing what’s gone wrong with book reviews. The crux of the issue, they write, is that reviews are not meant for a reader, they are actually aimed at prospective employers: “The main problem is that the contemporary American book review is first and foremost an audition — for another job, another opportunity, another day in the content mine, hopefully with better lighting and tools, but at the very least with better pay.”

At NiemanLab, Natasha Ishak writes about how Writers of Color, a project conceived by journalists Jazmine Hughes and Durga Chew-Bose, is pushing media organizations and publications to disclose their pay rates. Doris Truong, Poynter Institute’s director of diversity and training, talks with Ishak about how “pay transparency helps hold publications accountable, both by outside parties and internally.”