It’s Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates the emancipation of slaves in Texas two full years after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.
Here are some of the articles about Juneteenth this morning that caught my eye:
- Jamelle Bouie on the centrality of slaves in the struggle for emancipation and a better America.
- Mary Harris and Adam Serwer discuss the way Juneteenth represents the delayed arrival of justice for Black Americans and the risk that the holiday itself might contribute to that trap.
- Brent Staples on the search for bodies in Tulsa nearly a century after the massacre of hundreds of prosperous African Americans.
- Kellie Carter Jackson on the Black joy at the heart of Juneteenth.
- Jelani Cobb on Juneteenth as a marker of progress for white Americans, not Black ones.
While we’re at it, here are some articles and essays from the past that are worth a re-examination:
- The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The Myth of the Kindly General Lee by Adam Serwer
- The 1619 Project
- Whiteness as Property by Cheryl I. Harris
- Letter from a Region in My Mind by James Baldwin
And honoring Juneteenth in the book world:
- The Juneteenth Book Fest has an incredible lineup of panels available for streaming.
- The Schomburg Shop published a Black Liberation List for Young Readers.
- Amistad Books launched a Black Publishing Power initiative to urge readers to buy books by Black authors this week.
- Book Riot has a list of 50 independent Black-owned bookstores to support.
- Ashley Dennis profiles Charlemae Rollins, a children’s librarian in Chicago, who curated one of the first anti-racist reading lists for kids.
I can’t emphasize this last part enough. Don’t just support Black authors when Black Lives Matters and Juneteenth are in the news, do it always. A better world starts with your own reading list and the voices you choose to hear and support.
Lots more links for you this week from the book world.
The National Book Critics Circle imploded last week in the aftermath of accusations of racism by board member Hope Wabuke, who leaked an email from former NBCC president Carlin Romano that questioned whether there was systemic racism in the publishing industry. Several board members resigned over the fact that Wabuke leaked emails, and more resigned in support of Wabuke. The NBCC faces an uncertain future.
Meanwhile, the Poetry Foundation faced a wave of criticism over a BLM statement that was perceived as “worse than the bare minimum” by an open letter with over 2,000 signatures, prompting several board resignations.
In the wake of J.K. Rowling making statements widely perceived as trans-phobic and which prompting publishing employees to express reluctance to work further on her books, Hachette UK backed Rowling by stating that their employees are not allowed to refuse to work on a project because of an author’s statements outside of their writing.
Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafón passed away at age 55.
You might have noticed that many of the books links on this blog are now linking to a new source, Bookshop, which gives a portion of its revenue to independent bookstores and has a robust affiliate program. The New York Times has a balanced look at Bookshop this week, with some in the bookselling community thankful that it arrived at a difficult time for the indie book landscape, but others who worry they may soon have another bookselling behemoth to contend with.
It also might be worth revisiting my conversation with Mike Shatzkin from earlier in the year (which I conducted while I was sick with covid what a year holy crap), as Bookshop are relying on Ingram in the way he talks about here:
Mike: When we look back at all of this (whenever it ends, we’re at the beginning not the end, nothing’s happened yet), six months from now or a year from now or whenever it is we can say no one’s worrying about the coronavirus anymore and everything’s gone back to normal, I think one of the things we’re going to see is that the supply chain for books will have dramatically altered. The whole notion of printing lots and lots of books in advance and sitting on them in a warehouse is going to look a lot less attractive for a lot of stock.
The Ingram proposition that we have a print on demand setup and we can take your order this afternoon, print the book this evening, and ship it out tomorrow in a box that says “Nathan Bransford Bookstore” on it so you don’t have to worry about the fact that we fulfilled it not you, I think that’s going to look more and more attractive to more and more people.
Expect to see many more upstarts like Bookshop utilizing Ingram’s capabilities with online storefronts offering unique value props.
One of my favorite young authors Camryn Garrett, author of the YA novel Full Disclosure, gave an awesome interview with We Need Diverse Books on openly including sex in a YA novel and the research that went into writing a teen character with AIDS.
Kwame Anthony Appiah surveys the range of responses and motivations for capitalizing “Black” when referring to Black people and whether that should extend to “white.”
In agent advice news, Jessica Faust sounds a note of caution about the agents and publishers opening up their submissions to Black authors, to make sure you know your rights (here’s my own post on an author’s rights). Jessica also talks about the importance of querying one book at a time.
And I really loved this look at Moby-Dick as a warning we continuously fail to heed.
This week in bestsellers
Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):
Adult print and e-book fiction:
- The Summer House by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
- Daddy’s Girls by Danielle Steel
- Tom Clancy: Firing Point by Mike Maden
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
- Countdown 1945 by Chris Wallace with Mitch Weiss
Young adult hardcover:
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
- On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Middle grade hardcover:
- The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
- Wonder by R.J Palacio
- The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- Refugee by Alan Gratz
- The Complete Baking Book for Young Chef by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
This week on the blog
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
Comment! of! the! week! goes to Ken Hughes on what the climax of a novel can accomplish:
That is what it all comes down to.
And, maybe the best piece of writing advice I’ve ever found is that everything up until the climax is showing that the character has no choice but to go after that desire, in that way. Part of the journey is usually the struggles and sacrifices to get to that point (“The Ring is so heavy, Sam”), but it’s also exploring all the other strategies, red herrings, and the chances to go after a different goal or just give up.
Life is made up of choices, and the ordinary moments we all have come from making ordinary choices. A story uses its space to show that its hero considered all of those and was left with only the extraordinary choice — and at the climax he finds out if that gets him what he wants.
And finally, in another reminder of how recent “history” is, this is an incredible feature of a town in Mexico where the descendants of American slaves still sing hymns in English.
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Art: Black Trans Lives Matter march in Brooklyn. Photo by me.