LA’s literary community looks for financial lifeline

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Like so many other professionals, writers are losing work due to the pandemic. Restrictions on gatherings resulted in canceled book tours, delayed publications, and limitations on financial opportunities. 

PEN America, a longstanding group that advocates for writers, sent an open letter this week to LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council. They asked for more support from local and federal governments to help the literary community in Southern California. The Writers Guild of America West, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Angel City Press are among the letter’s many signatories.

The organization is seeking emergency relief funds and federal stimulus dollars, as well as rent protections for some publishing organizations forced to shut down due to COVID-19. For its part, PEN America is using its Writers’ Emergency Fund to provide grants to authors and other writing professionals facing severe financial hardship due to the health crisis. Since late March, the Fund has distributed some $361,000 to nearly 400 writers.