The summer before I went to college my grandfather died. I spent that season clearing out the shelves in his bedroom. And since he was a compulsive rereader, I kept the books that looked the most tattered. I thought he must have loved those the most.
One of them was The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes), by Henri Alain-Fournier. I couldn't have known when I picked it up that it would be such an appropriate last book for someone just days away from becoming a college student. In the late August heat I sat on my grandmother's balcony and read it in two days.
Katy Simpson Smith didn't have any trouble choosing a historical setting for her first novel. The American Revolution, she tells NPR's Audie Cornish, "was such a ripe moment for uncertainty: The various colonies are trying to figure out how they would make a nation of themselves, and families are trying to navigate evolving attitudes about religion and race and what it really means to be independent."
This week we've been exploring the question of diversity in the publishing industry.
From the classrooms of M.F.A. writing programs to the corporate offices of the big Manhattan publishers, NPR's Lynn Neary has reported on why there is an absence of people of color across the industry. Publishers agree that as the country's readers become more diverse, reflecting a diverse readership is increasingly becoming smart business for those who make and sell books.