The 23-Year-Old Publishing Satire That is Still Painfully Relevant

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

It’s new release day, and you know what that means: I’m highlighting the “it books” of the week at the end of this post. See you there!

A Long Way to a Big Illustrated Edition 

The Folio Society has revealed the first illustrated edition of Becky Chambers’s beloved novel The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. The limited run of 750 hand-numbered copies comes in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the book’s publication, which was originally funded on Kickstarter. It includes 10 illustrations, an enveloped signed by Chambers and the illustrator, Zoë van Dijk, printed page edges, a gorgeous slipcase, and a ribbon marker. The special edition, released yesterday, retails for £295 (just about $370 USD), and there are still some copies available at this time. 

No, Really, Please Go Read ERASURE.

Here’s a summary of the emotional journey I went on when I finally read Percival Everett’s 2001 novel Erasure over the holidays in preparation to see Cord Jefferson’s adaptation, American Fiction, which is in theaters now and has been (rightfully) nominated for several Oscars: 

  1. This shit is so sharp and so funny and, maddeningly, still so relevant, it feels like it could have been written today.
  2. I can’t believe I’ve worked in books for nearly 20 years and hadn’t heard of it until the movie trailer came out.
  3. Actually, that makes a lot of sense given Everett’s whole point. 

The point, if you’re unfamiliar, is “the way white editors and publishers gravitate toward Black stories that reinforce stereotypes, rather than those showing more nuanced depictions of Black life.” Several prominent Black publishing industry figures spoke with the New York Times about Erasure’s continuing resonance, and it’s clear that while the industry has made some progress, we have many miles to go. If you thought The Other Black Girl and Yellowface were biting, just wait until you see what their predecessor was packing.

Imagination Got Us Into These Problems…

In her new book Imagination: A Manifesto, Ruha Benjamin argues that human imagination is both the source of our worst problems—racism, sexism, systemic oppression, etc.—and the key to finding collective solutions. Book Riot is thrilled to share this powerful excerpt. 

The “It Books” of the Week

Now we’re cooking, friends! After a pretty quiet January, February is kicking off with two of my most anticipated reads of the season. Sign up for a paid subscription to Today in Books to get access to this and all bonus content and community features.

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