Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction Finalists

Canada-by-Richard-Ford-199x300The American Library Association announced its finalists for the second annual Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction yesterday. The three nominees  in fiction are Canada, by Richard Ford, The Round House, by Louise Erdrich, and This is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz; the three nominees in nonfiction are The Mansion of Happiness, by Harvard historian Jill Lepore,  the medical science thriller, Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, by David Quammen, and Timothy Egan’s Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis. The winners (one for each category) will be announced at ALA’s annual conference in Chicago June 30th. Founded in 2012, the award is co-sponsored by Booklist and ALA’s Reference and User Services Association (RUSA). Last year’s prizes went to Man Booker Award-winner Anne Enright for her novel The Forgotten Waltz and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert K. Massie for his biography of Catherine the Great. You can read more about the selections here.

Laura

Nigerian Author Chinua Achebe 1930-2013

achebe_337-articleLargeChinua Achebe, one of Africa’s most acclaimed authors has died at the age of 82 after a brief illness. His first  novel Things Fall Apart published in 1958 sold millions of copies and was translated into 45 languages.  Achebe received numerous awards, including the Nigerian National Merit Award (Nigeria’s highest award for intellectual achievement) and more than 30 honorary doctorates, but among the tributes he may have valued most was Nelson Mandela’s: “There was a writer named Chinua Achebe in whose company the prison walls fell down.” Novelist Nadine Gordimer in a 1998 NYT book review called Mr. Achebe “a novelist who makes you laugh and then catch your breath in horror–a writer who has no illusions but is not disillusioned.” Check the EPL catalog for books by the author and see the full article in today’s New York Times.

Laura

Morgan Library Celebrates Swann’s Way Centennial

exhibitJust in time for Evanston Public Library’s yearlong discussion of Proust, New York’s’ Morgan Library & Museum opened a new exhibition in honor of the 100 year anniversary of Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way – the first volume in his 7-volume novel À la Recherche du Temps Perdu  (Remembrance of Things Past). The materials, being shown for the first time outside of Paris, are on loan  from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.  On exhibit are notebooks , doodles and galleys, postcards and photographs, all related to the creation of Swann’s Way. It sounds like a fascinating exhibit, but as New York Times reviewer Edward Rothstein noted: “It would also help, when you visit, not only to have once read the book, but also to have it fresh in your mind. Otherwise you might pick up fragments of knowledge and see some remarkable artifacts, but will not grasp what kinds of processes are on display here.” Marcel Proust and ‘Swann’s Way’: 100th Anniversary is on view at the Morgan Library through April 28.  Book your flight now – or just get in the mood with tea and madeleines. Read the entire NYT article here.

Laura

BBC To Film The Casual Vacancy

J.K Rowling - In ConversationThe BBC has commissioned J.K. Rowling’s latest book The Casual Vacancy for a television series. Rowling said she’s thrilled: “I always felt that, if it were to be adapted, this novel was best suited to television and I think the BBC is the perfect home.”No date or length of series has been finalized yet, but according to this short article in the Huffington Post, suggestions for the cast are already in the works. Interesting choices. Check it out here.

Laura

Roth’s Last Stand

Seventy nine-year-old Philip Roth recently announced that he’s “done with fiction”. In an interview with the French magazine Les inRocks, he said that his 2010 book Nemesis would be his last. After writing more than 20 works of fiction, he told the magazine: ” I don’t want to read any more of it, write any more of it, and I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. I have dedicated my life to the novel: I have studied it, I have taught it, I have written it, and I have read it. To the exclusion of almost everything else. It’s enough.” Now Portnoy won’t be the only one complaining. You can read the entire New Yorker article here. And check the EPL catalog for a complete listing of his works.

Laura

“Grimm” And Bear It

2012 is the 200th anniversary of Grimm’s fairy tales. Films, books, and plays are being adapted to celebrate this bicentennial. British fantasy author Philip Pullman just published Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm, a retelling of 50 of the stories originally published in 1812. In January Paramount will release Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, and in 2014  Maleficent, the Sleeping Beauty story told from the point of view of the evil fairy (starring Angelina Jolie) is being released by Walt Disney Pictures. Several Cinderella films are being developed and a new version of Cinderella is coming to Broadway in January. See the rest of the Wall Street Journal article here. And check out the EPL catalog for additional titles by the Brothers Grimm.

Laura

The Book Thief at Steppenwolf

 Markus Zusak’s best-selling novel The Book Thief was Chicago Public Library’s One Book One Chicago selection this Fall. And now it’s been adaptated for the stage by Heidi Stillman and is being performed at Steppenwolf Theater (performances run through November 11). Set in Nazi Germany and narrated by Death, the story follows the fate of a young German girl Liesel (the book thief of the title) whose family hides a  Jewish man in its basement. The production has been well received by students and teachers and is being used as a teaching tool against youth violence in Chicago. A film version of the book is also in the works. See this NYT article for the entire story.

Laura

Words and Music

Best-selling mystery writer Donna Leon is most famous for her Commissario Guido Brunetti series. But her new novel The Jewels of Paradise is based on a little-known Baroque composer Agostino Steffani. She collaborated with opera singer Cecilia Bartoli whose most recent recording Mission features Steffani’s music. Ms. Leon became friends with the opera star more than 20 years ago after she interviewed her for a German newspaper. It was Bartoli who suggested that Leon write a book about him. Apparently Leon has always been passionate about opera and is involved in the management of the Florence-based opera company Il Compresso Barocco. The Jewels of Paradise is her first stand-alone novel. Check out the article here.

Laura

Gore Vidal, 1925-2012

Prolific author, playwright, actor, and raconteur died Tuesday from complications of pneumonia at the age of 86. A versatile writer, he published 25 novels (The Golden Age, Lincoln, Myra Breckinridge to name a few), two memoirs and several volumes of essays. He also wrote plays, television dramas, and screenplays, including the the movie adaptation of his friend Tennessee Williams’s play Suddenly, Last SummerHis best known and most successful play was The Best Man which ran for 520 performances on Broadway and then became a successful film in 1964 starring Henry Fonda. He also ran for Congress in 1960, encouraged by his friend Eleanor Roosevelt. And although he lost, “he received more votes in running for the seat than any Democrat in 50 years”. The New York Times has an in-depth obituary in today’s paper, including his famous run-ins with William F. Buckley and Norman Mailer. Fascinating article.

Laura