Every year, the Paris Review Board of Directors gives awards to recognize remarkable contributions to literature. This year, the directors are celebrating two extraordinary writers and taking special steps to ensure the future of exceptional writing. Read on to learn about the ways we are celebrating this year. Read More
The board of The Paris Review Foundation, which publishes the literary quarterly The Paris Review, is pleased to announce the appointment of Emily Stokes as the next editor of The Paris Review. She will be the sixth editor in the sixty-eight-year history of the magazine.
Ms. Stokes joins from The New Yorker, where she has been a senior editor since 2018. Ms. Stokes was also an editor at T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, and the Financial Times. She is a graduate of Cambridge University and was a Kennedy Memorial Trust scholar at Harvard.
“Emily will honor the Review’s tradition of discovery,” says Mona Simpson, the publisher of The Paris Review. “I believe she’ll publish distinctive work in a distinctive way, with courage, subtlety, and style.”
“Like many readers, I came to The Paris Review through its interviews, which show writing to be the hard, inspiring work that it is,” Ms. Stokes says. “Over the years the Review has introduced me to new and established writers who have provided the most pleasurable kind of company. After a year in which we have been alone and driven mad by the news, the Review’s mandate, to publish ‘the good writers and good poets, the non-drumbeaters and the non-axe-grinders,’ is a timely calling, and I am tremendously excited and grateful for this opportunity.” Read More
The Paris Review, a literary quarterly based in New York, announced that its editor, Emily Nemens, has resigned to pursue work on her second novel.
In her statement, published today on The Paris Review’s website, Nemens said, “The Paris Review’s mission has always been a dual one: to provide a platform for great literature, and to inspire readers with ambitious new writing. I’m proud that we’ve been able to accomplish both during my time at the Review, and I would like to thank the writers, readers, and colleagues on staff and the board who have collaborated with me toward these objectives.”
The Paris Review, founded in 1953, features original fiction and nonfiction, art, and in-depth interviews with notable writers about their creative processes. Under Nemens’s leadership, the quarterly won awards and attained a record number of subscribers. The Review also has an active digital presence with a large following, and has recently produced two seasons of podcasts featuring readings, interviews, and archival material.
At the time of Nemens’s departure, issue no. 236 has just appeared, and Nemens’s editorial work on the Summer 2021 issue, no. 237, has been completed. The Paris Review is undertaking an active search for her successor. “While we will miss Emily,” said co-presidents Matt Holt and Akash Shah, “we have a wonderful staff, and the magazine has never been in better shape financially. We are all very excited about the next chapter.”
“We are grateful for Emily Nemens’s editorial stewardship of The Paris Review during the past three years,” said publisher Mona Simpson. “In particular, we thank Emily for her leadership guiding the staff through the anxieties and sorrows of the pandemic. We are excited for her new work and wish her every happiness.”
The Paris Review’s mission has always been a dual one: to provide a platform for great literature, and to inspire readers with ambitious new writing. I’m proud that we’ve been able to accomplish both during my time at the Review, and I would like to thank the writers, readers, and colleagues on staff and the board who have collaborated with me toward these objectives. The project of the Review is an ongoing one—seven decades strong—but over the past three years, I’m particularly proud of a few accomplishments: I’m thrilled to see the quarterly at record high circulation, and that the work we publish in its pages has been recognized by peers, including the 2020 American Society of Magazine Editors’ Award for Fiction and the 2021 volume of Best American Poetry, which will include five poems from TPR. Collaborating on the poetry program with Vijay Seshadri was a joy, and I’m eager for readers to explore Poets at Work, an anthology that Vijay edited, when it arrives next month. I’m glad that we are able to support writers early in their careers—few things please me more than an emerging writer landing a book deal off of the strength of their Paris Review story—and concurrently give space to voices I have admired for decades. The Writers at Work interview series is a national treasure, and shepherding conversations with writers like Suzan-Lori Parks, Nathaniel Mackey, and George Saunders into print was a singular privilege.
More readers are finding us online—on the Daily, via newsletters, and on social media—than ever before, with thanks to our great digital team. We made a second season of the podcast and already have some aces in the hole for season three. And while we hosted some good parties and programs in the Before Times, even more readers found us through recent virtual events. Some accomplishments behind the scenes: We began an institutional giving program, with a mind toward building a broader network of philanthropic and government support. We opened digital submissions and began a virtual reader program, offering mentorship and professional development to a nationwide group of volunteer readers. And I’m glad that we were able to create a safe, stable, and creative workplace for TPR’s staff through an unprecedented global crisis. I hope the magazine continues to thrive, through the stressful conditions of the ongoing pandemic and into brighter days ahead.
In his “Letter to an Editor,” in the Review’s first issue, William Styron considers the writer’s duty: “He must go on writing, reflecting disorder, defeat, despair, should that be all he sees at the moment, but ever searching for the elusive love, joy, and hope—qualities which, as in the act of life itself, are best when they have to be struggled for.” The quest Styron describes is not just for expatriate writers of the Silent Generation—it’s an editor’s job, too. From our offices in Chelsea, and, since last March, from an apartment in the East Village, I have sought love, joy, and hope to share on these pages. Yesterday we welcomed the Spring issue, no. 236, into the world, and now, with my work on the Summer issue complete, I am leaving The Paris Review to write my next book. Hopefully, eventually, I’ll edit again—connecting writers to readers is among the world’s best professions. Through it all I will keep seeking out those elusive qualities and sharing them as best I can.
This morning, PEN America released the 2021 Literary Awards Finalists. More than forty-five imprints and presses are featured on the list, with half of the titles coming from university and indie presses. Twenty books are from writers making their literary debuts, and half the titles among the open-genre awards are poetry collections. Chosen by a cohort of judges representing a wide range of disciplines, backgrounds, identities, and aesthetic lineages, these fifty-five Finalist books represent a humbling selection of the year’s finest examples of literary excellence.
The stories on the Finalists lists are about parents, grandparents, and grandchildren, about siblings and their rivalries. These writers share the lives of people who are nonbinary and people who are transgender; people of all ages with changing bodies; immigrants and citizens and people seeking refuge; a basketball legend; a young woman who plucks factory chickens smooth; a tugboat driver; and Phillis Wheatley, America’s first Black poet. Writers and translators lay soldiers, veterans, and scientists to the page. They show us an Algerian bookstore owner, a ranger-naturalist in the Great Western Divide, the first 999 women sent to Auschwitz, a mother named Ivory Mae who bought a yellow house for her family, and a DREAMer named Gina. They write of the first and last stargazers, and ask us to look up.
From the deepest fathoms of the ocean to the Mexican American borderlands; from southeastern Nigeria, Hawaii, colonial Jamaica, and China to contemporary Salt Lake City, Harlem, and weight-lifting gyms; from the Gambia to 1770s Boston; from Colombia, Iran, Taiwan, and French-occupied Algiers to a greenhouse in Sweden; across rivers and into the underworld; from Australian rainforests to Alaskan estuaries, the deserts of Saudi Arabia, and nineteenth-century Edo, Japan; and from Lisbon to Angola—connected by curling strands of hair—these stories, whether real or imagined, tell the truth.
In these stories we see the banality of daily life. We see families, legends, religious rites and cleansing; we see burials, wildfires, knife blades, emperors, gods, and divine favor; false teeth, sobriety, and addiction; sexual manners and vulgarities, magical flowers and their nectar, mythology, and queer dreams. We are shown the limits of American assimilation, the search for home, and migration as “an ancient and lifesaving response to environmental change, a biological imperative as necessary as breathing.” We hear whale songs transmitted over ocean waves. We read interdisciplinary poetics, newspaper clippings, imagined and factual obituaries, technological escapes and collapses, faked deaths and stolen identities, the murder of Black men, and the horrors of the suburban imagination.
Amid what is for many the most challenging time of their life, we remember through these books the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the Tiananmen Square massacre, the transatlantic slave trade, the 1961 state-sanctioned drownings of Algerians in Paris, and the establishment of our global caste systems, and we recognize how our history has made our present. These books tell of real people, of a reality far beyond an expired canon. They remove barriers and show us our connected humanity.
These books reveal to us the world. Read them. Read their stories.
—Jane Marchant, literary awards program director for PEN America
In 2017, Honey & Wax Booksellers established an annual prize for American women book collectors, aged thirty years and younger. The idea took shape when Heather O’Donnell and Rebecca Romney, the bookstore’s owners, observed that “the women who regularly buy books from us are less likely to call themselves ‘collectors’ than the men, even when those women have spent years passionately collecting books.” By providing a financial incentive, and a forum in which to celebrate and share their collections, O’Donnell and Romney hope to encourage a new generation of women. In this, the contest’s fourth year, they faced an unexpected challenge: most of their partners on the ground, local bookshops and libraries across the United States, closed their doors due to COVID-19 a couple of weeks after the contest opened. O’Donnell and Romney spent the spring reposting and retweeting from their couches, hoping that word of the prize would reach young book collectors in lockdown. Despite it all, submissions were sent in from across the United States
We are pleased to unveil the winner of the 2020 Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize, who will receive $1,000, as well as five honorable mentions, who will each receive $250.
Miriam Borden: Twentieth-Century Yiddish Primers and Workbooks for Children.
Miriam Borden, thirty, is a teacher of Yiddish and a graduate student at the University of Toronto, from Teaneck, New Jersey. Borden collects twentieth-century Yiddish educational materials: language primers—which form the core of her collection—songbooks and workbooks, flash cards, and scripts from school plays. These artifacts testify to a once-thriving Yiddish school system across North America, a network that collapsed after World War II as Jewish immigrants assimilated and Hebrew emerged as the language of the State of Israel. “There would be no more child readers of Yiddish children’s books,” Borden writes in her essay about the collection. As a teacher of Yiddish, Borden now uses these vintage materials to instruct adults hoping to reconnect with a lost part of their heritage.
“There was no heirloom china in the house where I grew up, no silver from grandmother’s chest to be taken out and polished for holidays and family celebrations,” Borden writes. “That china had all been shattered, the silver stolen… The heirlooms, and most of the family, were lost. But that does not mean I am bereft of inheritance. I was raised with an heirloom language, a treasure that could be taken out and polished and used on those rare moments when no word in English or Polish or Hebrew would fit the occasion. I was raised to speak the language of the dead. But never for a moment did it ever dawn on me that it was a dead language.”
Honey & Wax says, “Borden’s collection represents an impressive effort of historical preservation and an inspiring example of how a collection that began as something personal becomes a collective resource.”