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Wellcome Prize shortlist announced; Tracy K. Smith on the mystery of poetry

Tracy K. Smith. Photo: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

The shortlist for the Wellcome book prize has been announced. Nominees include Ayòbámi Adébáyò’s Stay with Me, Kathryn Mannix’s With the End in Mind, and Sigrid Rausing’s Mayhem. The winner will be revealed next month.

Les Payne, former Newsday editor and founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists, has died.

Google is launching a campaign to “support the media industry by fighting misinformation and bolstering journalism.” Over three years, the Google News Initiative will invest $300 million into supporting news organizations, creating new tools for journalists, and promoting accurate reporting during breaking news events.

Bring Out the Dog author Will Mackin talks to George Saunders about why he channeled his experience in Iraq and Afghanistan into fiction. “Initially, I wrote nonfiction about the wars because I thought that others did the real work and who was I to take liberties,” he explained. “It wasn’t until ‘getting it right’ proved impossible that I started tweaking the details.”

US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith tells the New York Times’s “Behind the Book” that her interest in poetry started in childhood. “I felt from an early age that poetry was something mysterious, something playful and lilting,” she said of her early days reading Poe and Shakespeare. “As I got older, poems began to offer me new and life-changing ways of looking at the familiar world.”

Lenny Letter is partnering with Glamour to create an “interactive fiction” series, which will be written by a group of female writers. Each of the seven chapters in Daughter, First, which follows the daughter of a Massachusetts governor, will be influenced by readers’ responses to prompts on social media. “We have seen the popularity of podcasts using serial storytelling, and so we just thought that newsletters . . . could be used in the same way, to draw readers in and create suspense and just tell a really good story,” said Lenny Letter editor in chief Jessica Grose, who will also be one of the writers on the project. “And I’d been noticing that the national conversation is very highly dominated by politics. I thought, ‘What a better time to do a novel —a totally fictional portrayal — about a political family?’”