Jan 09, 2009, 08:07AM

New Yorker by the numbers

After deft use of tallying and spreadsheets, we now have quantitative evidence that the New Yorker isn't such a big tent for fiction writers.

Who'd a thought?:

Frequency: The headline takeaway from this exercise is just how many of the stories that appear in the New Yorker come from just a few writers. Just nine writers account for 73 (or 23%) of the 312 stories to appear over the last six years. Just 18 writers account for 118 (or 38%) of the stories. When discussing New Yorker fiction, I often hear complaints about how rarely the magazine surprises readers with talented but less well known writers. This is undoubtedly a valid complaint. While many of the New Yorker's favorite fiction writers happen to be brilliant masters of the form - Alice Munro and George Saunders come to mind - it's also true that readers can grow weary of these same voices recurring again and again. On the flip side of this argument, however, there are 76 writers who have each appeared a single time in the New Yorker over the last six years (almost 13 per year), though only nine one-timers appeared in 2008.


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