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The Roundup: February 4, 2022

Book banning in the U.S. is on the rise
Public domain photo by Freddy Kearney on Unsplash

In this week’s issue, Authors Guild Advisory Council member Viet Thanh Nguyen publishes a compelling essay in praise of books that make readers uncomfortable and The New York Times weighs in on the politicization of book banning. Speaking of often-banned books, James Joyce’ Ulysses turns 100; The New Republic tries to find the motive behind the recently arrested Simon & Schuster UK employee who stole dozens of authors’ unpublished manuscripts; and more.

Book Ban Efforts Spread Across the U.S.
The New York Times
Books reporters Alexander Alter and Elizabeth Harris discuss the politicization of book banning and aggressive tactics deployed by parent activists and the political groups backing them.

My Young Mind Was Disturbed by a Book. It Changed My Life
The New York Times
Pulitzer-Prizing winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen writes the definitive essay on why no books should ever be banned—if a story makes readers feel uncomfortable, it is doing what literature is supposed to do.

Hachette Book Group’s Pietsch Named American Publishers’ Chair
Publishing Perspectives
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) announced its board officers for 2022-23. They are: Michael Pietsch, CEO, Hachette Book Group (Chair); Julia Reidhead, president/chair, WW Norton (Vice Chair); Jeremy North, managing director of books, Taylor & Francis (Treasurer); Brian Napack, CEO, John Wiley & Sons (Past Chair); and Blaise R. Simqu, CEO, SAGE Publishing (Board Director)

An 8-Year-Old Wrote a Book and Hid It on a Library Shelf. It’s a Hit.
The New York Times
An eight-year-old student from Boise, Idaho created an 81-page graphic novel about a time-traveling boy who takes off from one of the stars on his Christmas tree. He was so happy with it that he placed it on the fiction shelf at his local public library. When the local librarians found it, they were so charmed that they placed it into circulation. Now there’s a waiting list to read it.

The Bizarre, Unsolved Mystery of Filippo Bernardini and the Stolen Book Manuscripts
The New Republic
Publishing industry reporter Alex Shepherd explores what prompted Italian Filippo Bernardini to pose as an employee of various top publishers and literary agencies to secure copies of authors’ unpublished manuscripts. Though the FBI arrested Bernardini two weeks ago on wire fraud and identity theft, it’s not clear what he planned to do with the manuscripts or how he benefited from stealing them.

Happy Anniversary, Leopold Bloom!
Lit Hub
On February 2, 1922, Sylvia Beach of Shakespeare and Company, published James Joyce’s Ulysses. Since then, the quintessential modern novel has been “banned and celebrated, insulted and cherished, and looked at every which way.”