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How Politics, Protests and the Pandemic Shaped a Year in Books

How Politics, Protests and the Pandemic Shaped a Year in Books

Dwight Garner, in his review, said that Wright’s research was put to good use, resulting in a rare specimen: a “sweeping, authoritative and genuinely

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Dwight Garner, in his review, said that Wright’s research was put to good use, resulting in a rare specimen: a “sweeping, authoritative and genuinely intelligent thriller.” (Wright’s 31,000-word reported account of the coronavirus takes up most of the current issue of The New Yorker.)

In late May, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Americans marched in the streets to protest racism and police brutality. Social upheaval and conversations about the nation’s conscience reached a pitch reminiscent of the 1960s.

The literary world reflected this in many ways. By the early days of June, best-seller lists were filled with recent books about race, like “How to Be an Antiracist,” by Ibram X. Kendi, and “So You Want to Talk About Race,” by Ijeoma Oluo, as well as books published a decade or more ago, including “The New Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander.

Around the same time in June, writers on social media began using a hashtag, #PublishingPaidMe, to draw attention not just to the homogeneity of the publishing industry but how much writers of color are (or are not) paid. Jesmyn Ward wrote that she “fought and fought” for her first $100,000 advance, even after her novel “Salvage the Bones” had won a National Book Award in 2011.

The Times spoke to an author, literary agent, marketer, publicist, editors and booksellers about how being Black affects their careers and the books you read. And we asked writers to share with us the histories, novels and poetry that have done the most to deepen their understanding of race and racism in America.

In July, Dana Canedy, a former New York Times editor and the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, became the new publisher of Simon & Schuster and the first Black person to lead a major publishing house. And Lisa Lucas, the former executive director of the National Book Foundation, was named the publisher of Pantheon and Schocken Books. Other hires and structural changes in 2020 suggested that the industry was moving past lip service in its efforts to increase diversity.

“There’s a certain comfort that comes from knowing a fact,” Alex Trebek told The Times’s Alexandra Alter in July. “The sun is up in the sky. There’s nothing you can say that’s going to change that. You can’t say, ‘The sun’s not up there, there’s no sky.’ There is reality, and there’s nothing wrong with accepting reality.”

Source: | This article originally belongs to Nytimes.com

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