The 2013 National Medal of Arts, the government’s highest award for artists and art patrons, will be presented by President Obama to 12 honorees on July 28. Among the recipients are Chicago philanthropist and arts patron Joan Harris “for supporting creative expression in Chicago and across our country, and historian Darlene Clark Hine “for enriching our understanding of the African American experience”. Other medal winners include novelists Julia Alvarez, and Maxine Hong Kingston. For the complete list of awardees see this short article in the Chicago Sun-Times.
This year is the first time the Man Booker Prize, United Kingdom’s most prestigious literary award is celebrating authors of literary fiction “whether from Chicago, Sheffield or Shanghai.” Four American authors and one Irish-American writer are among the 13 finalists: Joshua Ferris for To Rise Again at a Decent Hour; Karen Joy Fowler for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; Siri Hustvedt for The Blazing World; Richard Powers for Orfeo and Joseph O’Neill for The Dog. Other nominees include: Richard Flanagan (Australia), Howard Jacobson (Britain), Paul Kingsnorth (Britain), David Mitchell (Britain), Neel Mukherjee (Britain), David Nicholls (Britain), Ali Smith (Britain), Niall Williams (Ireland). The winner who will receive 50,000 pounds (about $85,000) will be announced in October. Read more in these articles from the NYT and NPR.
This week WBEZ radio launched a series called “After Water” that explores the future of our water supply in the face of increasing climate change. On July 20th, host Shannon Heffernan kicked it off by interviewing nonfiction writer Michele Morano who was hoping to find a way to get the public to be more engaged in the looming problems of water supply. Morano came up with the idea of teaming sci-fi writers with scientists. Each writer would work with one scientist, learn about his or her area of research, and then write a sci-fi short story set in the near future. And, so the series was born. Heffernan commented, “We’ve invited fiction writers to peer into the future—100 years or more—and imagine the region around the Great Lakes, when clean, fresh water could be a rare resource. Hear the writers’ stories on air and online, and listen as scientists weigh in too.” Listen to the full interview here.
WBEZ is also hosting an event on July 30th where the first batch of stories will be told live at the Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse in Chicago at 6pm. For more information click here.
Scribner will be releasing a new edition of Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises in late July. The classic book begins with the line “Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton.” But the original opening began: “This is a novel about a lady.” The new edition with the discarded first chapter and alternate drafts and titles also includes Hemingway’s 1923 essay of his first visit to the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona, Spain. For more about the reissuing of this classic, see the NYT article. And check out the EPL catalog for Hemingway’s other works.
South African writer Nadine Gordimer died today in Johannesburg at the age of 90. Known for her writings dealing with themes of injustice and cruelty in apartheid South Africa, Ms. Gordimer wrote more than two dozen works of fiction as well as essays and literary criticism. Three of her books were banned in her country – her second novel A World of Strangers (1958), The Late Bourgeois World (1966), and Burger’s Daughter (1979). In 1974 she on the Booker Prize for The Conservationist and was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1991. She said it wasn’t her country’s problems that started her writing. “On the contrary, it was learning to write that sent me falling, falling through the surface of the South African way of life.” She continued writing after apartheid, saying “it wasn’t apartheid that made me a writer, and it isn’t the end of apartheid that’s going to stop me.” Read the entire NYT article here and check the EPL catalog for works by this acclaimed author.
Author Nina Sankovitch
For Nina Sankovitch e-mail, Facebook, texting, and Twitter all have their place, but none can compare to a good, old-fashioned letter. In her follow-up to 2011′s acclaimed Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, the former Evanstonian pays homage to the vanishing art of letter writing with a fascinating journey through the long history of the letter. Praised by 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl as “a joy to read, savor, and remember,” Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing shares the unforgettable letters of mothers, slaves, aristocrats, famous artists, and even Sankovitch’s husband in making a powerful case for the continued importance of letters. On Tuesday, July 15th, you can hear Ms. Sankovitch read from Signed, Sealed, Delivered when she visits EPL’s 1st Floor Community Meeting Room at 7 p.m. In anticipation of her visit, we recently spoke with her via email about preserving the history of everyday people, the trappings of instant response, handwriting, letters from her son, and her next book.
We are happy to introduce Chicagoland artist Hanna Eiler as the next to be featured in our ongoing exhibition series Local Art @ EPL. From now through July 31st, nearly two dozen of her imaginative 3-D collage paintings will be display on the 2nd floor of EPL’s Main Library. Depicting British royal history from Edward IV to Elizabeth I along with abstract ideas of quantum physics, Eiler strives to explore the moment when “the ideas of the past merge with the realities of the present and the future.” You can find more of Eiler’s work by visiting the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.