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National Book Foundation announces 5 under 35 honorees

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 05:00
The National Book Foundation ha announced its 2017 5 Under 35 honorees, a selection of debut fiction writers under the age of 35 whose work promises to leave a lasting impression on the literary landscape. Each author was selected by a National Book Award Winner, Finalist, or writer previously recognized by the 5 Under 35 program:

Lesley Nneka Arimah, author of What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories (Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House)
Selector: Chris Bachelder, 2016 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction

Halle Butler, author of Jillian (Curbside Splendor)
Selector: Lydia Millet, 2016 National Book Award Longlist for Fiction

Zinzi Clemmons, author of What We Lose (Viking / Penguin Random House)
Selector: Angela Flournoy, 2015 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction and 5 Under 35 honoree

Leopoldine Core, author of When Watched: Stories (Penguin Press / Penguin Random House) Selector: Karan Mahajan, 2016 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction

Weike Wang, author of Chemistry (Knopf / Penguin Random House)
Selector: Sherman Alexie, 2007 National Book Award Winner for Young People's Literature

"The Hobbit," published 80 years ago this week, lives up to early reviewer C.S. Lewis' prediction that it would become a classic

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 10:53
On the 80th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit, Lithub look back on C. S Lewis' review of his old friend J. R. R. Tolkien's first novel:

"...For it must be understood that this is a children's book only in the sense that the first of many readings can be undertaken in the nursery. Alice is read gravely by children and with laughter by grown ups; The Hobbit, on the other hand, will be funnier to its youngest readers, and only years later, at a tenth or a twentieth reading, will they begin to realise what deft scholarship and profound reflection have gone to make everything in it so ripe, so friendly, and in its own way so true. Prediction is dangerous: but The Hobbit may well prove a classic."

C. S. Lewis, The Times Literary Supplement, October 2, 1937 (Paris Review link)

In original version of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" a black Charlie was embedded in a life size chocolate given to Wonka's son for Easter

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 05:00
Follow last week's revelation from Roald Dahl's widow that Dahl initially intended the hero of his 1964 classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be black, Catherine Keyser, an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina, provides additional nuance to the story that was originally to be titled Charlie's Chocolate Boy, and involved Charlie being embedded in a life size candy mold in the Easter Room:

"The mold closes, and the chocolate pours over his body and he is suffocating and nearly drowning in it. And it hardens around him, which feels terrible. He's trapped. He's alive but can't be seen or heard. No one knows where he's gone. Then he gets taken to Wonka's house to be the chocolate boy in Wonka's son's Easter basket...

...So I think it's neat that in this midcentury moment Dahl has this black boy get stuck inside a mold that fits him perfectly — he emphasizes that — everything about the mold fits Charlie, except once the chocolate inside the mold hardens, it's uncomfortable! So what better symbol of what it's like to be turned into a racial stereotype than a black boy who gets stuck inside a life-size chocolate mold and can't be seen or heard through this chocolate coating."

Much loved children's book, "The Snowy Day" to be captured in four stamps available from Oct 4

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 05:00
On Oct. 4, the United States Postal Service will issue four stamps, part of the "Forever" series, featuring Peter, the little boy from Ezra Jack Keats's "The Snowy Day." The book was published in 1962. The next year, Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, and "The Snowy Day" won the Caldecott Medal.

Ron Charles argues that it would be better for American readers if The Booker Prize reverted to only accepting entries from Britain and the Commonwealth

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 05:00
Prompted by last week's announcement of the Booker Prize shortlist (Britain's most prestigious literary award), with half of the six nominees being American writers, Ron Charles expresses sadness that the award is now open to all writing in English rather than just to authors in Britain and Commonwealth countries (essential most of Britain's former colonies).

"...As flattering as it is for our nation's novelists to be invited into the U.K.'s literary arena, Americans don't need any encouragement to trumpet their own books. As a nation, we're already depressingly xenophobic when it comes to our reading choices. While bookstores all over the world carry books by Americans, bookstores in the U.S. usually reserve a tiny, dusty shelf called "books in translation." (So strong is this bias against non-American writers that a New York publisher once told me that she planned to omit "Canadian" from an author's bio on the jacket flap.)"

Volunteers rescue thousands of books from Mosul library destroyed by Islamic State, and host a book festival

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 05:00
The volunteer effort to save what was left of Mosul University library after it was destroyed by IS has renewed hope for the city after more than two years of occupation.

The library once contained hundreds of thousands of ancient documents, including a ninth-century Koran, before it was burned down in a deliberate attempt to erase culture.

Last week's reading festival was the culmination of Mosul Eye and the volunteers' efforts, and was attended by thousands on the grounds of the university.

A celebration of books and reading, music and poetry, Mr Al-Baroodi said the event just months after the city's liberation was proof of the resilience of the Iraqi people and culture.

"We expected a couple hundred people, but it was a big surprise to find no less than 3,000 to 4,000 people. We couldn't count because the audience was so huge," he said.

Margaret Atwood to receive PEN Lifetime Achievement Award

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 05:00
The 2017 PEN Literary Awards will be presented at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on October 27, with the Lifetime Achievement Award going to Margaret Atwood.

The honorees are:
Fiction: Black Sheep Boy by Martin Pousson
Creative Nonfiction: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Research Nonfiction: The Perfect Horse by Elizabeth Letts
Poetry: Look by Solmaz Sharif
Young Adult: Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
Translation: Confessions by Rabee Jaber, translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid
Journalism: The White Flight of Derek Black by Eli Saslow
Drama: Roe, by Lisa Loomer

Annie Proulx to receive honorary National Book Award

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 05:00
Annie Proulx will receive the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the awards ceremony on November 15. Anne Hathaway (who starred in the film adaptation of Brokeback Mountain) will present the award.

The world's coolest bookstores

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 15:33
CNN reports on "the world's coolest bookstores from London to Los Angeles."

Banned Books Week

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 05:00
Bookstores, libraries and other organizations across the USA are preparing for Banned Books Week 2017, which runs next week, September 24-30. Shelf Awareness takes a look at what some stores are planning...

David Lagercrantz will write one final book in the Millennium series - to be released in 2019

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 05:00
David Lagercrantz, who continued Stieg Larsson's Milllennium series after the latter's death in 2004, has stated that he will write just one more book in the series, to be released in 2019. This would bring the series to six books - three by Larsson and three by Lagercrantz

Libraries find new relevance and needed funds by partnering with office and affordable housing developments

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 17:20
In an op ed for the New York Times, Matt A.V. Chaban, policy director for the Center for an Urban Future, discusses how libraries in New York City, and potentially, in cities across the country, could find much needed funds to modernize and stay relevant for the long term through partnerships with housing and office developments:

"In 2014, the city selected the Fifth Avenue Committee to undertake the novel task of redeveloping the Sunset Park branch. There, an eight-story building will rise, with the first two floors dedicated to a library 75 percent larger than the one there now. The floors above will have 49 apartments, all of which will be rented to low- and middle-income families in perpetuity.

Imagine if the city did the same at the branch in Corona, Queens, where cramped quarters force study groups to huddle on the floor; or Red Hook, Brooklyn, where families from the nearby housing projects are eager for more job training; or Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, where rising sea levels and storms like Sandy threaten its very operations."

Hillary Clinton's post-election reading list

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 08:25
James Hohmann, national political correspondent for The Washington Post and author of The Daily 202, lead's Monday's issue with a look at the many books Hillary Clinton turned to after her election loss:

"What Happened was quickly strip-mined for political nuggets after its publication last Tuesday. As I went through it over the weekend, though, what struck me most was how the wounded Democrat coped after her crushing defeat last November.

In short, Clinton has read voraciously and eclectically — for escape, for solace and for answers.

The collection of works that she cites across 494 pages showcases a top-flight intellect and would make for a compelling graduate school seminar..."

The Handmaid's Tale and Big Little Lies get top honors at Emmy Awards

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 05:00
Two TV series based on books scooped the top honors at last night's Emmy Awards:

The Handmaid's Tale won five awards including best drama series, best actress for Elisabeth Moss and best supporting actress for Ann Dowd.

Big Little Lies took five prizes in the limited series categories, including wins for Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern.

Court rules that theatrical parody of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" does not violate copyright.

Sun, 09/17/2017 - 14:39
After a nine month dispute, Manhattan's Federal District Court has ruled that Matthew Lombardo's theatrical parody, Who's Holiday! — a dark and decidedly adult sequel of sorts to Dr Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas — does not violate the copyright of the original story.

English teachers adapt reading lists in the age of Trump

Sun, 09/17/2017 - 14:35
Politico reports on how America's high school English teachers are adapting curriculum to the current political climate.

After watching the tumult of the 2016 presidential election play out inside their classrooms last year, and after a summer of hate-filled violence, many are retooling the reading lists and assignments they typically give their students. They worry that the classic high school canon doesn't sufficiently cover today's most pressing themes—questions about alienation and empathy and power—and that the usual writing prompts aren't enough to get students thinking deeper than an average cable news segment.

Clowns already feeling impact of Stephen King's "It"

Sun, 09/17/2017 - 14:32
Stephen King's record-breaking horror film "It" may already be a hit with audiences, but one group is not celebrating the success of the latest adaptation of Stephen King's novel: clowns.

For a community already struggling to combat perceptions of clowns as scary rather than fun, the emergence of Pennywise, the movie's child-killing clown villain, played by Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard is truly the stuff of nightmares. Even before the film's release the World Clown Association was warning that the film could cause its members to lose work, even going as far as publishing a press kit to prepare clowns for the damaging effects It might have on their reputations.

Roald Dahl?s widow says Charlie Bucket was supposed to be black until editor intervened

Sun, 09/17/2017 - 05:00
The widow and the biographer of the beloved British children's writer Roald Dahl told the BBC in an interview this week that Charlie Bucket, the young boy whose life is changed by a golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was originally supposed to be black.

Mrs. Dahl made the remark during a conversation with Donald Sturrock, her husband's biographer, on BBC Radio 4's "Today" program. "It was his agent who thought it was a bad idea when the book was first published to have a black hero," Mr. Sturrock said. "She said people would ask why."

Terry Pratchett exhibit opens at Salisbury Museum

Sun, 09/17/2017 - 05:00
The many sides of one of the UK's most beloved fantasy authors are reflected in an exhibition called Terry Pratchett: HisWorld, which opened this weekend at Salisbury Museum, not far from Terry Pratchett's Wiltshire (UK) "manorette" where he died in March 2015.

The memorabilia is as eclectic as the author's writing, from his first typewriter – a manual Imperial 58 bought secondhand for £14 – to his trademark leather jacket and Louisiana fedora.

House Votes to Save Library Funding, and National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities

Sun, 09/17/2017 - 05:00
The $1.2 trillion FY2018 budget bill (H.R. 3354), which passed by a 211-198 margin, includes full funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), including all programs administered under the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), as well as the Department of Education's Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program.

The vote comes after the House Appropriations Committee in July approved a Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) funding bill which proposed roughly $231 million for the IMLS, including $183.6 million for LSTA, programs, and $27 million for IAL—essentially level with 2017 funding. In addition, the bill passed yesterday also increased funding for the National Library of Medicine by $6 million.

In addition to voting to preserve federal library funding, the House bill also would save the National Endowments for the Arts, and Humanities, which are funded as part of the FY2018 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.

The House vote caps an intense lobbying effort, and comes after President Trump in May doubled down on his call to eliminate the IMLS and virtually all federal funding for libraries, as well as a host of other vital programs and agencies.....

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