5 Most Popular Posts: December 2021

  • January 3, 2022

We love every piece we run. There are no winners or losers. But all kidding aside, here are December’s winners.












  1. “Our 51 Favorite Books of 2021.” “Hundreds of thousands of books are published annually, so it’s absurd to proclaim a handful ‘the best.’ But these are the ones that most stuck with us during this, our second — and hopefully final — pandemic year.”

  2. “The Washington Writers Conference Returns!” “Have you finally finished that manuscript — or proposal — but aren’t sure what to do with it? Attend the 2022 Washington Writers Conference (May 13-14) in Rockville, MD, and pitch your project face-to-face to three literary agents!”

  3. Randy Cepuch’s review of Mr. Dickens and His Carol: A Novel by Samantha Silva (Flatiron Books). “Dickens was haunted: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. Or, at least, that’s the shared premise behind Samantha Silva’s debut novel, Mr. Dickens and His Carol, and a new film called ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’ (based on a 2008 book by Les Standiford). Both purport to explain how Charles Dickens, suffering from financial difficulties and writer’s block, managed to pen the classic A Christmas Carol in record time — with a little help from the Great Beyond. The movie is entertaining enough, but it’s predictably trite holiday fare: There’s more of gravy than grave about it.”

  4. Samantha Rajaram’s review of China Room: A Novel by Sunjeev Sahota (Viking). “‘China Room’ refers to a room at the back of a village home in Punjab, India, in 1929, where three young brides sit and work throughout the day, surveilled and tormented by their imperious mother-in-law, a memorably cruel personification of the internalized misogyny of Indian culture. The women — mere teenagers — have no idea which of the three brothers in the home is their husband, since they must avert their eyes during their nighttime conjugal visits in another small room of the house they all share.”

  5. “The Most Interesting Man in the World” by David O. Stewart. “I have a personal reason to be grateful to Phil, which readers of this piece share. When we were attempting to start this nonprofit journal, I tried to raise money to pay the bills. I was bad at it. One potential donor, exasperated with my bumbling, explained that I should ask for commitments for multi-year donations, with regular reports back of our progress so the donor would know that she or he wasn’t tossing dollars down a rathole. So I sent a message to Phil with that carefully calibrated request. He immediately called. He said he would give the amount I proposed, but he wanted to donate it all now, that day. Five years later, he did it again. Who does that? Phil did.”

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