paper trail

Publishing is overwhelmingly white

Ken Chen

The second part of a series by NPR’s Lynn Neary, on diversity in the writing world, has aired. Publishing is “overwhelmingly white,” the writer Daniel José Older says. “That's not a controversial fact, but sometimes to point it out becomes a controversial thing.” Publishing companies often say that they would publish books by more diverse writers if there were a market for them. It’s not that there isn’t a market, says poet Ken Chen, it’s that publishers can’t “imagine” it: “That's not just about a company corporate diversity policy; it's about actually knowing what's going on in communities of color."

Detroit’s Write a House program is underway. The nonprofit is buying houses on the foreclosure market, renovating them, and giving them to writers. It will give away one house in its inaugural year, and in subsequent years give away three annually. Applicants must be published writers, but do not need to do work as writers full-time. They must earn no more than $39,750 a person.

Long-time New York bookstore Shakespeare & Company may be forced to close permanently. At the end of August, they will close their Broadway store, which has been operating without a lease for a year. A Brooklyn outpost closed this spring; the Upper West Side location closed in 1996, after a Barnes and Noble moved in a block away. Apparently the Lexington location is also in lease negotiations.

Stephen King, Jeff Bezos, and Stephen Colbert have all taken the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which entails a bucket of ice water getting dumped on the participant, who then nominates others. If you refuse, you’re encouraged to donate to a charity that supports research on the disease. ALS research is important, but it hasn’t been so fun to see Facebook littered with videos of people self-congratulatingly dousing themselves.

J.D. Salinger’s home in Cornish, New Hampshire is on the market. The writer purchased the 1939 Dutch Colonial, which is on twelve acres of land, when he left New York in 1953. He sold it to the current owner in the early 1960s. Among the works that he may have worked on in the house are “Franny,” “Zooey,” “Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters,” and “Seymour: An Introduction.”