Welcome to Bloom — a literary site devoted to highlighting, profiling, reviewing, and interviewing authors whose first major work was published when they were age 40 or older. Bloom is also a community of artists and readers who believe that “late” is a relative term, not an absolute one, and who are interested in bringing to attention a wide variety of artistic paths — challenging any narrow, prevailing ideas about the pacing and timing of creative fruition. If someone is labeled a “late bloomer,” the question Bloom poses is, “Late” according to whom?
The age of 40 is in some ways an arbitrary marker; we use it flexibly, as more of a guidepost than a cut-off, recognizing that the stories we’re interested in, the life journeys, are complicated. Consider Toni Morrison, and George Eliot, both of whom published their first book-length works of fiction at age 39. Or Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago: he published a first novel in 1947, at age 25; then did not publish again for 19 years, and did not publish another novel until 1980, at age 58.
Bloom is for writers and artists of all ages and stages, for anyone who believes that the artistic journey is, and should be, as particular and unique as each one of us; that there is no prescribed beeline to literary achievement.
See what others are saying about Bloom at the New Yorker‘s Page-Turner blog, the LA Times’s Jacket Copy, The Atlantic, and Flavorwire. Also, read this interview with Founding Editor Sonya Chung at The Huffington Post.
Bloom‘s origins date to September 2011, when the monthly “Post-40 Bloomers” series was launched at The Millions by Sonya Chung, Founding Editor of Bloom. In her introduction to the series, she wrote:
Slow, later, and older produces as great if not greater literary work than fast, early, and young. In other words, by focusing too much on youth when bestowing awards and recognition, we miss out — we readers and we writers and we critics, that is. We generate cultural blind spots, and we even have the power to thwart possibilities for alternative creative paths by influencing market and career viability in favor of the young [...]
Malcolm Gladwell makes the useful distinction between late bloomers, late starters, and late-discovereds. My bias toward late starters — people who have lived a whole life, or two, or three before seriously devoting themselves to write a book — relates to the collision of life and art: I’m interested in writers who perhaps had the inkling, or the deep desire, to write, to pursue a creative life, for a long time, but for myriad reasons were impeded – internally, externally, a combination of the two. I am excited and inspired by individuals from whom a determined self-reinvention – a digging in, a deep breath, an about face or leap off a cliff – has been required at some point in order to pursue the vocation that has called from within but for which there has been little native tailwind [...] the point at which someone not only puts both feet into the writer’s boots but in fact begins to walk — shakily, but unmistakably — on a literary path. It’s the point where “may” morphs into “must,” where the obstacles begin to fade in power and importance.
Since the launch of the series we have featured 13 authors — including Walker Percy, Giuseppe di Lampedusa, Anna Keesey, Isak Dinesen, William Gay, Harriet Doerr, Daniel Orozco, and others. The monthly Post-40 Bloomers series will continue at The Millions, in tandem with expanded content here at BLOOM.
Thank you for visiting; and may we all bloom in good time.