The OG Queen of Faerie Fantasy on Romantasy, BookTok and the Rise of YA

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Welcome to Today in Books, where we report on literary headlines at the intersection of politics, culture, media, and more.

The OG Queen of Faerie Fantasy Weighs In

Holly Black has been writing romantasy since well before we had a name for it, so of course the publicity tour for her latest novel, The Prisoner’s Throne, includes a lot of conversation about the BookTok-driven trend. In a wide-ranging interview, Black reflects on how she stumbled into a career writing YA, why she doesn’t write spicier sex scenes, and how she thinks about human diversity and representation in faerie worlds. I was glad to see her call out the overwhelming whiteness of BookTok sensations—the platform’s racial bias has been well-documented—and I’m going to be thinking about her theory that Barnes & Noble’s decision to move YA out of the children’s section jumpstarted its rise. 

National Book Foundation Announces 5 Under 35 Honorees

Every year, five authors who have been previously honored by the National Book Foundation each select a debut fiction writer under the age of 35 whose work “promises to leave a lasting impression on the literary landscape.” It’s a lovely pay-it-forward setup and a wonderful chance to discover new writers at the start of their careers. This year’s 5 Under 35 honorees span a variety of genres and themes, from family secrets to immigration to the nature of belief. I’ll admit these are all new to me, and I’m looking forward to exploring them. I think I’ll start with We Are a Haunting.

A Tricky Brain Teaser

There are 13 narrative nonfiction titles hidden in this word game, and whew! I’ve been staring at it for a while, and I can only find 11. How’d you fare?

Why Ban Books When You Can Ban Book Awards?

Illinois students in grades 4-8 vote each year to select the books that will win the Rebecca Caudill Awards. The Caudill Awards have been part of a statewide program since 1988, but this year, one district has withdrawn due to concerns (raised, of course, my people who haven’t even read the books) that the list is “left-leaning.” You’ll be shocked, I’m sure, that the book that kicked off the concern is Stamped:  (For Kids) Racism, Antiracism, and You.

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