2014 Pulitzer Prize Winners

pulitzerThis year’s Pulitzer Prize Winners were announced Monday at New York’s Columbia University. The prizes honoring excellence in journalism and the arts have been awarded since 1917. This year’s recipients include The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt in the Fiction category; The Flick by Annie Baker for Drama; The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 by Alan Taylor for History; Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall for Biography; Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin for General Nonfiction; 3 Sections by Vijay Sesadri for Poetry. For a list of all the winners and finalists see this NYT article.


2014 Most-Challenged Books

captundFor the second year in a row, Dav Pilkey’s series Captain Underpants topped the American Library Association’s list of most-challenged books. Pilkey commented that he was surprised “that a series with no sex, no nudity, no drugs, no profanity and no more violence than a Superman cartoon has caused such an uproar.” Other “vilified” books include, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. You can see the complete list in this NPR article.


Peter Matthiessen, 1927-2014

Matthiessen-obit-4-master675Author and naturalist Peter Matthiessen died Saturday at his home in Sagaponack, New York at age 86. According to this fascinating NYT article, Mr. Matthiessen ” was a man of many parts: litterateur, journalist, environmentalist, explorer, Zen Buddhist, professional fisherman and, in the early 1950s, undercover agent for the Central Intelligence Agency in Paris.” He wrote more than 30 books, mostly nonfiction, and is the only writer to win the National Book Award in both fiction (Shadow Country) and nonfiction (The Snow Leopard).  His final novel In Paradise has just been published. You can read the entire NYT article here.  And check the EPL catalog for more works by this author.


If you’ve eight hours to lend to Billy Corgan and Siddhartha…

Billy_CorganBilly Corgan, frontman of the Chicago-based Smashing Pumpkins rock band, performed a musical interpretation of the Herman Hesse novella in Highland Park (at Madame ZuZu’s tea house) last month. The performance lasted eight hours, and attendees were rotated in groups so that all had a chance to marvel at the Chicago rock legend. How can your favorite novella inspire you?


PEN/Faulkner Fiction Prize

fowlerThe 2014 PEN/Faulkner prize for Fiction was awarded to NYKaren Joy Fowler for her novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. The $15,000 prize will be presented at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington on May 10. A panel of three judges, including Madison Smartt Bell, Manuel Munoz, and Achy Obejas, chose the work from more than 430 novels and short story collections. According to a statement by Mr. Munoz: “Fowler captures an altogether new dimension of the meaning – and heartbreak – of family dynamics.” You can read more in this short NYT article.


Lorraine Hansberry Website

lorrainehansA new website dedicated to the work of playwright Lorraine Hansberry offers “all things Hansberry” including never-before released photographs, video clips of her television interviews, audio of her radio interviews and speeches. Although best known for her play A Raisin in the Sun, her estate created the site to focus on her work not only as a writer but also as a civil rights activist. You can read the entire NYT article here. And check the EPL catalog for more of Ms. Hansberry’s work.


Gone With The Wind Prequel To Be Published

27MAMMY-master675Margaret Mitchell’s estate has authorized the publication of Ruth’s Journey – the story of the house slave Mammy in Gone With the Wind. Author Donald McCaig, who also wrote the 2007 Rhett Butler’s People, felt that “Mammy was such a fascinating and crucial character to the book he wanted to flesh out a story of her own.” According to the editorial director of Atria Books, author McCaig’s book “respects and honors its source material, but it also provides a necessary correction to one of the more troubling aspects of the book, which is how the black characters are portrayed.” Read the entire NYT article here.


Manhattan’s Fading Literary Landscape

bookstore1-articleLargeSky-high rents are forcing many of Manhattan’s bookstores to close or move out of Manhattan according to today’s disheartening article in the New York Times. Independent stores Coliseum Books, Shakespeare and Company, Endicott Booksellers and Murder Ink have all closed and now the big chain stores like Barnes & Noble are closing as well. Biographer and historian Robert Caro said the loss of bookstores from Manhattan is “a profoundly significant and depressing indication of where our culture is.” Chief executive of  Hachette Books said “compared to other cities, New York is no longer a bookstore city.” You can read the entire article here.


PEN/Hemingway Award Winner

penhemNoViolet Bulawayo is the 2014 winner of the Hemingway Foundation’s PEN Award for her novel We Need New Names. The prize honoring best debut fiction was established in 1976 by Mary Hemingway in memory of her husband Ernest Hemingway. Along with the $10,000 award, the prize includes a one-week residence at the University of Idaho, and a fellowship at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming. Born in Zimbabwe in 1981, Ms. Bulawayo is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Read the NYT article here.