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August 1-15, 2005 Edition GENERAL NEWS Heavyweight Authors Share Insights on Identity In Summer Radio Series

Read More on exploring typecast writers in the LA Times

Santa Monica, CA/07/27/05—Toni Morrison, Tom Wolfe, Susan Sontag, and twenty-seven other literary heavyweights share their insights on the hidden complexities of ethnic stereotyping in literature in Escaping the Cage: Identity, Multiculturalism and Writing,” a ten part series broadcasting on the nationally syndicated public radio show “Bookworm.”

The weekly show, called “a national resource” by The New York Times, is hosted and produced by Michael Silverblatt at the leading public radio station in Southern California, 89.9 KCRW/Santa Monica (and, and is broadcast to thirty-five public radio stations around the country including WNYC in New York City and KPFA in Berkeley, California.

Silverblatt, who has been called “the go-to guy for brainy authors” by The Wall Street Journal, spent a full year taping interviews with a wide range of today’s most respected literary writers. The result is a polyphonic collage that explores with remarkable depth the heart of one of the most significant areas of change in the perception of literature.

Silverblatt was surprised to discover a whole new dilemma affecting writing in America. “There is a new freedom, yes, but how many writers have felt confused or limited by an obligation to explore identity? Have publishers, finding a new marketing tool, created a new cage?” Silverblatt asks.

Escaping the Cage: Identity, Multiculturalism and Writing, began when Silverblatt interviewed Sandra Cisneros and another Latina writer, Nina Marie Martinez. During the interview Nina suddenly said, “I know I should be talking about ethnic women of color, but the real influences on my work right now are Thomas Pynchon and Louis Althusser.” Also against type, Sandra Cisneros revealed that Marguerite Duras is her favorite writer.

The resulting conversations were incredibly varied. One writer chafed at being called an Asian writer, wanting only to be thought of as a writer, and someday to be thought of as a great writer. Some writers wanted the freedom to explore many different cultures and identities. Even the description “great American writer” seemed to be limiting –many writers’ aspirations are global.

Silverblatt says “In 1969 when Maya Angelou wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she could only have guessed how wide those cage doors would open. Freed from the cage, some of the birds are singing songs about a new cultural openness. But many writers feel they have flown from one cage to another.”

The writers interviewed in the series are: Russell Banks, Susan Sontag, Maya Angelou,

Camille Paglia, Stephen Greenblatt, Tom Wolfe, David Mitchell, E. L. Doctorow, Norman Mailer, J.D. McClatchy, Toni Morrison, Joan Didion, Jonathan Lethem, Rita Dove, Edward P. Jones, Alice Walker, Jayne Cortez. Art Spiegelman, Cynthia Ozick

Jonathan Rosen, James McCourt, Alan Hollinghurst, Edmund White, Susan Choi, Maxine Hong Kingston, Don Lee, Sandra Cisneros, Nina Marie Martinez, Margaret Atwood, John Banville.

Now in its 17th year, BOOKWORM, produced and hosted weekly by the acclaimed Michael Silverblatt, features dynamic conversation with the most accomplished authors of literary fiction and poetry. Produced at KCRW-FM, a public radio station in Santa Monica, California, the show airs on thirty-five public radio stations including WNYC in New York City and KPFA in Berkeley, California. The show has a weekly audience estimated at over 600,000 listeners across the nation and is also available online at The show is funded by the Lannan Foundation, Barnes & Noble, Inc., and Miramax Co-Chairman Bob Weinstein and his wife Annie Clayton. The New York Times has called BOOKWORM “a national resource, a sanctuary from lightweight pop fiction and/or the celebritization of well-known authors,” and The Wall Street Journal has called Silverblatt “A bibliophile with a hypnotic gift of gab” and “the go-to guy for brainy authors.” Reader's Digest

To Publish Its

1,000th Issue /7/26/05—Reader's Digest magazine, once praised by the Wall Street Journal as "the top publishing success since the Bible,” celebrate its 1000th issue of the publication on Tuesday, July 26.

Founded in 1922 by DeWitt and Lila Wallace, the monthly magazine condensed articles from other publications. In 13 short years, the Digest had reached a circulation of more than one million readers. For decades, its signature features came under headings such as "Drama in Real Life" and "Life in These United States," folksy anecdotes from subscribers, abundant self-help advice and a table of contents on every cover. Today’s paid circulation is about 10 million, down from its peak of 17.8 million readers in 1985.

The magazine’s many changes that have taken place within recent years are examined in an article by Jerry Gleeson in the Detroit News. Read the full article. Publishers Lure


With Edgy Books 7/16/2005—Harry Potter rejuvenated the children's book industry and hooked millions of kids on the pleasures of reading. Now publishers are looking for the same kind of magic for older teens and 20-somethings.

The trick is learning how to pry this age group away from the Internet and video games. A 2004 survey by the National Endowment for the Arts showed that readership of novels, plays or poems among 18- to 24-year-olds had plummeted 28 percent since 1982.

"We've got to figure out what this audience wants to read and how to market to them," says Jen Bergstrom, an editor at Simon Spotlight Entertainment, a division of Simon & Schuster that focuses on pop culture topics with books such as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." READ THE FULL STORY AT THE News Journal Online.