Magill’s Literary Annual, 2019

Salem. Mar. 2019. 746p. ed. by ed. by Jennifer Sawtelle. photos. index. ISBN 9781642651171. $210; ebk. ISBN 9781642651188. REF
This year’s Magill’s covers 150 “outstanding” examples of fiction, nonfiction, short story collections, and poetry of which informed readers will want to be aware. Entries follow a uniform format, with author and publisher, type of work, and, as often as possible, information such as locale, time period, and principal characters, as well as a capsule description and analysis of style, subject, and themes. Most give detailed attention to the book’s critical reception, and all end with a listing of review sources. Records are signed; while no information aside from names and advanced degrees are given, five of the 19 entry writers are PhDs, while one has an MA and an MLIS. Each volume has an annotated title list, and the second contains category and title indexes. Many of the virtues of the latest Magill’s are also its weaknesses. The uniformity of entries allows readers to find information in roughly the same place each time. The material and selection of books are usually solid. However, that same uniformity doesn’t encourage patrons to read multiple entries or even one entry in depth.
VERDICT A good starting point for research into current literature or as a readers’ advisory tool.

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