Good news for the New England Review, the award-winning 32-year-old literary journal of Middlebury College. It will receive a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support its publication and promotion in 2011.
That money means something. In 2009, the college’s Budget Oversight Committee recommended severing its connection with the Review — which, according to an administrator quoted in a Middlebury Magazine article, costs the school $250,000 to $275,000 annually. College president Ronald Liebowitz decided to give the journal until December 2011 to begin meeting its own operating costs.
The college’s cost-cutting measure was described as an ominous sign for literary magazines by writers such as Ted Genoways, editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, who cited it in a January 2010 Mother Jones article called “The Death of Fiction?” The blogosphere has buzzed with debates on whether academic literary journals are still relevant. Meanwhile, besides soliciting donations, the NER — whose contributors regularly win Pushcart Prizes and other national honors — has begun charging a $2 to $3 fee for electronic submissions from nonsubscribers.
Let’s hope the NEA grant is a sign that rumors of the death of fiction have been greatly exaggerated.