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  • Kat Sarfas 2:00 pm on 2020/01/27 Permalink
    Tags: awards, caldecott, coretta scott king, jerry craft, kadir nelson, , , newbery, the undefeated   

    The 2020 Newbery Medal, Caldecott Medal, and Coretta Scott King Award Winners 

    The prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King Book Awards have long served as a guide to those seeking some of the best original and creative content published for young readers. These prize winners are the books that shape childhoods, give new perspectives to budding readers, and start a lifelong love of stories and the written word.  This year’s winner are:

    The John Newbery Medal

    With its long history, the Newbery is the most recognizable children’s book award given for “the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year.”

    The 2020 Newbery Medal Winner — New Kid, by Jerry Craft

    An honest look at starting over in a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real.  This graphic novel is tender and heartbreaking, yet funny and uplifting. A story sure to resonate deeply with young readers.

    Newbery Honor Books: The Undefeated, by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, Scary Stories for Young Foxes, by Christian McKay Heidicker, illustrated by Junyi Wu, Other Words for Home, by Jasmine Warga, and Genesis Begins Again, by Alicia D. Williams.

    The Randolph Caldecott Medal

    Awarded to the artist that illustrated the “most distinguished American Picture Book for Children published in the United States during the preceding year.”

    The 2020 Caldecott Medal Winner — The Undefeated, by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

    A powerful tribute to the African American experience in America.  Kadir Nelson’s trademark photorealistic style showcases the many struggles and triumphs of some of the world’s greatest heroes with grace and strength.

    Caldecott Honor Books: Bear Came Along, by LeUyen Pham, written by Richard T. Morris; Double Bass Blues, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, written by Andrea J. Loney; and Going Down Home with Daddy, illustrated by Daniel Minter, written by Kelly Starling Lyons.

    Coretta Scott King Book Awards

    Given to exceptional African American authors and illustrators of children and YA literature that “demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.”

    The 2020 Author Award Winner — New Kidby Jerry Craft

    Author Honor Books: The Stars and the Blackness Between Them, written by Junauda Petrus; Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, written by Kwame Mbalia; and Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, written by Jason Reynolds.

    The 2020 Illustrator Award Winner — The Undefeated, by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

    Illustrator Honor Books: The Bell Rang, illustrated by James E. Ransome, written by the illustrator; Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace, illustrated by Ashley Bryan, written by the illustrator; and Sulwe, illustrated by Vashti Harrison, written by Lupita Nyong’o.

    The post The 2020 Newbery Medal, Caldecott Medal, and Coretta Scott King Award Winners appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Joel Cunningham 1:00 pm on 2019/11/21 Permalink
    Tags: 1919: the year that changed america, , arthur size, awards, baron wenchkeim's homecoming, , , , great slate, lászló krasznahorkai, martin w. sandler, National Book Award, , , , ,   

    Announcing the Winners of the 2019 National Book Awards 

    When the journalist and writer Sarah M. Broom decided to tell the story of her family—of the home her then-19-year-old mother bought in New Orleans East at the age of 19; the house where she raised twelve children, including Sarah; the house that was was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2006—in her searing memoir The Yellow House, she knew there was value in sharing their intimate, personal story with the world. She knew it was worth the risk.

    “My family understands, I think, the value of having these stories in a book,” she said. “I think they know that in a way this will outlast them and be something that the next generations can draw on to understand where they came from.”

    That pronouncement took on an air of prophecy last night, as Broom took home the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction, ensuring the already widely acclaimed work will find its way into the hands of many more readers. The Broom family’s story will live on.

    This fall, we’ve been following along with the 2019 National Book Awards, from the announcement of the fascinating longlists in September to last month’s unveiling of the formidable shortlists. At a ceremony last night in New York City, the awards were finally handed out in each of five categories—Young People’s Literature, Translated Literature, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction. Taken together, the winners are a powerful collection of books, from authors whose work, from prose to poetry, feels utterly vital to the landscape of American letters in 2019.

    Here is the complete list of winners. Explore the other nominated works here.

    Winner for Fiction

    Trust Exercise, by Susan Choi
    An Indie Next pick named to 11 best book lists in 2018, Trust Exercise is set in the 1980s at a highly competitive suburban performing arts high school, Trust Exercise will incite heated discussions about fiction and truth, friendships and loyalties, and will leave readers with wiser understandings of the true capacities of adolescents and the powers and responsibilities of adults.


    Winner for Nonfiction

    The Yellow Houseby Sarah M. Broom
    A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America’s most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother’s struggle against a house’s entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the “Big Easy” of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows.

    Winner for Poetry

    Sight Lines, by Arthur Sze
    From the current phenomenon of drawing calligraphy with water in public parks in China to Thomas Jefferson laying out dinosaur bones on the White House floor, from the last sighting of the axolotl to a man who stops building plutonium triggers, Sight Lines moves through space and time and brings the disparate and divergent into stunning and meaningful focus. In this new work, Arthur Sze employs a wide range of voices—from lichen on a ceiling to a man behind on his rent—and his mythic imagination continually evokes how humans are endangering the planet; yet, balancing rigor with passion, he seizes the significant and luminous and transforms these moments into riveting and enduring poetry.

    Winner for Translated Literature

    Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, by László Krasznahorkai, translated by Ottilie Mulzet
    Set in contemporary times, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming tells the story of a Prince Myshkin–like figure, Baron Béla Wenckheim, who returns at the end of his life to his provincial Hungarian hometown. Having escaped from his many casino debts in Buenos Aires, where he was living in exile, he longs to be reunited with his high-school sweetheart Marika. Confusions abound, and what follows is an endless storm of gossip, con men, and local politicians, vividly evoking the small town’s alternately drab and absurd existence. All along, the Professor—a world-famous natural scientist who studies mosses and inhabits a bizarre Zen-like shack in a desolate area outside of town—offers long rants and disquisitions on his attempts to immunize himself from thought. Spectacular actions are staged as death and the abyss loom over the unsuspecting townfolk.

    Winner for Young People’s Literature

    1919: The Year That Changed America, by Martin W. Sandler
    1919 was a momentous year, as Sandler documents in this fascinating overview of events ranging from Boston’s Great Molasses Flood, to laborers protesting working conditions, to women’s gaining the right to vote. Sandler breathes life into each event, gives it context, and examines its impact on modern day politics and culture; connections to immigration, the Black Lives Matter movement, and climate change will particularly resonate with young readers. A meticulous and breathtaking look at history’s influence on the present day.

    Congratulations to the winners! Explore all all of the nominees here.

    The post Announcing the Winners of the 2019 National Book Awards appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 1:00 pm on 2019/11/21 Permalink
    Tags: , after the flood, awards, , , , national book award for nonfiction, ,   

    Breaking the Frame: Sarah Broom Unearths Her Family’s Story in Her National Book Award-Winning Memoir The Yellow House 

    Last night, journalist and author Sarah M. Broom took home the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction for her memoir The Yellow House, an emotional and revelatory chronicle of her family home in New Orleans, where her mother raised 12 children before it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2006. In it, their story becomes a sort of biography of the city itself—a place that was flooded with problems, from racial division, to poverty, to government corruption, long before the waters rose.

    Below, we present a profile of the author and her book by Amy Gall, originally published in September 2019.

    For author Sarah Broom, the expression “home is where the heart is” works not just as a truism, but as an understatement. “I was haunted by the house I grew up in from the moment I left it to go to college in 1997. I’m interested in place and what it means to be tethered to place, and through the years, I kept taking notes on the physical house itself without knowing what I was going to say about it. And then in 2006 after Katrina hit and the house was demolished by the city, the story changed for me. Because rather than write about this physical place that I can cast my longing and interrogations on, there was no place. Then I was writing about absence and that process blew open a world for me.”

    That blown-open world would eventually become Broom’s stunning debut memoir The Yellow House. It tells the story of the shotgun home Broom’s mother bought in New Orleans East at the age of 19 and where she raised twelve children, Broom being the youngest, until the house was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

    In order to construct this meticulous narrative, Broom, who had spent much of her adult life running away from the city of her birth, moved back to New Orleans in 2011 and spent the year doing extensive interviews with her family. It was an act that was at times cathartic but also gave rise to its own difficulties when the resulting stories began to get published. “An excerpt from the book ran in The New Yorker in 2015 and the magazine is meticulous about fact checking, so they called my siblings to ask them if what they said was true and my siblings were like, ‘Sigh. Here she goes again.’ It’s very hard to be written about. My family understands, I think, the value of having these stories in a book and I think they know that in a way this will outlast them and be something that the next generations can draw on to understand where they came from. But in the moment, that’s not the thing you’re thinking about when you’re feeling exposed and vulnerable.”

    The true power of The Yellow House emerges in the way Broom takes these highly personal stories and stitches them into a larger narrative about New Orleans itself, a city that has been plagued by racism, capitalist greed, and government corruption since long before Hurricane Katrina brought all of these issues to the nation’s attention. “I spent a lot of time thinking about the dysfunction of New Orleans. In a way, it made me feel closer to the city, like I was claiming it in the way that Joan Didion writes about making a place your own. But then I was also turning it on its back and looking at its soft underbelly and saying, what kind of place is this that made me and noticing that there are some icky things under there. But those icky things were part of what it means to tell a full story. The whole section about the French Quarter, for instance, is a game of taking what people know about New Orleans and saying, ‘How do I exploit that knowledge and push it to the edge of itself? How do I go into the myths of America like: it’s a meritocracy, and, if you buy a house it will lead you to wealth, and then blow them up?’ ”

    Broom got her start in journalism, earning her degree from the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked with Cynthia Gorney, “an old school journalist from the Washington Post.” The investigative rigor Broom honed there fed a project that wound up expanding outside the limits of a typical memoir. “I was trying to make something a little beyond the frame, because it was personal but that was just one layer, and even the personal was a lot of investigative reporting. If my uncle said to me, ‘In 1920 we were living on Saint Joseph Street by the rice mill,’ I wouldn’t just write, ‘Uncle Joe said they lived on Saint Joseph Street.’ I’d find the name of the rice mill, figure out where the train tracks were, figure out from census records how long they were there, and then construct a story from that fact. I used the thing he said to build a kind of world, and that’s an extra layer of journalistic work. I spent a lot of time in public libraries, cemetery libraries, driving to Raceland where my father is from. I basically lived on the fifth floor, which is called the Louisiana Division, of the main library in New Orleans and the University of New Orleans archive. But there needed to be all these layers of investigation because the book for me was like a concentric circle, just expanding and getting broader and broader.”

    Broom took particular pains to illustrate how inadequate healthcare, access to education and employment and “environmental racism” trap black families like hers in cycles of poverty and violence. She uses those broader themes to return powerfully to the memories of childhood shame she carried, growing up in a home that, even before Katrina, had fallen into a state of disrepair. “There was a moment in the book where I say something about how I learned to define myself by the place I’m from and the trick in the work of shame I think, is rather than allow you the clarity of mind to say, what the fuck is wrong with this system? What the fuck is wrong with this world? You take it on as yours. Now, as a thinking, interrogative person, that shame feels ridiculous to me.”

    Sometimes the heaviness of the work would stop Broom in her tracks, but inspiration could also come from unexpected places. “It was very hard, because you’re sucked into this world. For a long time I didn’t talk to my siblings in real life, because I was writing them and I was listening to them and it was just a lot, all their stories and their fears and ideas. At some point I was going so insane with this story and it seemed too unwieldy and I couldn’t gather it together and I remember standing up in my office, and going to the wall where I would do charcoal drawings every morning as a kind of exercise and just writing ‘Show Up’ and underneath that ‘Stay.’ And that became the thing that I did. I didn’t overthink it and say ‘This is so hard.’ I just showed up and stayed.”

    After spending so much time documenting the loss of her childhood house, one might expect that Broom would be hesitant about owning a home, especially in New Orleans. But an unexpected discovery piqued the author’s interest. “When my book went into production, my friend sent me a listing for this little yellow shotgun house. I never wanted a yellow house. I was not a person trying to replace my childhood home. But it was the cutest little house and I became obsessed with it. The house is only about 650 square feet, so I can’t really host big gatherings there. Only about four people can fit in there at once. But buying it was a moment where I was just thinking about myself and my own needs. And when you’re from a large family, that doesn’t happen that often. So, the house is special for me in that way.”

    This new yellow house has a history just as interesting as its predecessor, and may even inspire her next book. “The house is supposedly from 1811 and was originally owned by a free woman of color. I’d like to write about it someday. Who knows? The rest of my life might just be looking up addresses and saying what’s the history of this place?”

    The Yellow House is available now. Explore all the winners of the 2019 National Book Awards here.

    The post Breaking the Frame: Sarah Broom Unearths Her Family’s Story in Her National Book Award-Winning Memoir <i>The Yellow House</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Joel Cunningham 6:30 pm on 2019/10/15 Permalink
    Tags: awards, bernardine evaristo, girl woman other, historic, , ,   

    Booker Award Shocker: Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo Share the U.K.’s Top Fiction Award 

    Like the National Book Award, the U.K.’s Man Booker Prize is one of the world’s leading literary honors. Since 1969, the Booker Prize for Fiction has been awarded to the year’s best novel written in English and published in the U.K. or Ireland.

    Except for this year, when the judges for the literary award defied the rules to award the top prize to two novels—Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments and Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other.

    The announcement “shocked the literary world,” per The Guardian, as the Booker rules have outright prohibited joint winners since they were amended 1992, after Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient and Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger both won the award.

    According to 2019 jury chair Peter Florence, the judges simply couldn’t choose between Atwood’s blockbuster dystopian sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale and Evaristo’s vibrant, intricate story of the intersecting lives of a dozen Black British women.

    “We were told quite firmly that the rules state you can only have one winner,” Florence said. But when the judges—who have spent the last year reading over 150 novels put forward for the prize—still couldn’t reach a decision after multiple rounds of deliberation, the “consensus was to flout the rules and divide this year’s prize to celebrate two winners.”

    The choice has been both celebrated—on stage accepting the award, Atwood (who also won the Booker for 2000’s The Blind Assassin) said she was pleased to share the honor with her co-winner—and criticized by those who would prefer to see a single novel honored. But it’s also easy to see things from the judges’ perspective, for who could choose between two so urgent and deeply felt works, both of them exploring different facets of women’s lives?

    Both womanhood and Blackness are at the center of Girl, Woman, Other, which the author—the first Black British woman to win the prize—has said she wrote because she felt the experiences of women like her are rarely depicted in fiction. “We black British women know that if we don’t write ourselves into literature, no one else will,” she said. The vibrant, moving novel weaves together the stories of twelve central characters, mainly Black British women whose identities, backgrounds, and experiences are vastly different, even as their lives intersect: an acclaimed socialist lesbian playwright; her friend, a burned out teacher; a former student of the teacher who has become an ambitious investment banker; an elderly farmer, and more. Sometimes friends, sometimes lovers, sometimes simply passing acquaintances, these disparate characters all wrestle with thorny, often universal questions—how to live in a patriarchal society, who best to turn to for guidance and advice, and achieving success versus “selling out.” Viewed as a unified tapestry, the lives of these women reveal a fascinating, dynamic, ever-changing social landscape of Britain across the last century that is not often represented in literary works. Written at times in a poetical free-flow that dispenses with punctuation and capitalization, Girl, Woman, Other is a story about what connects us, and what it means to be true to your identity.

    Even placed next to that worthy winner, perhaps the judges simply felt that Atwood’s novel could not be relegated to the shortlist in 2019, arriving as it has in the wake of the rise of the #MeToo movement and a tense political atmosphere in the Western world that has seen woman dressing in the traditional crimson garb of her grim future’s Handmaids—fertile women treated like broodmares for the wealthy elites—as a sign of protest. The Testaments, which is set 15 years after the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, employs three female narrators from Gilead—the totalitarian society formerly known as the USA—to continue a riveting story of subjugation and rebellion that moves with the speed of a thriller. While two younger characters serves as our eyes into the growing resistance movement against Gilead’s ruling class, the novel’s most fascinating character may be Lydia, one of the “aunts” working within the regime to bring young handmaids, wives, and girls to heel. Aunts are the only women in Gilead allowed to read or write, and Atwood’s intimate portrayal of Lydia—who cut a monstrous figure in The Handmaid’s Tale—provides new insights into a fascinating character who can tell us something about the ways people in the real world sometimes compromise their humanity in favor of power and security.

    Regardless of the reasons for the joint decision, readers have come out winners: the additional attention brought about by both the award and the controversy is likely to put copies of The Testaments and Girl, Woman, Other into many more hands.

    The Testaments is available now. Girl, Woman, Other will be published in the U.S. on December, and is available for preorder.

    The post Booker Award Shocker: Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo Share the U.K.’s Top Fiction Award appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Joel Cunningham & Molly Schoemann-McCann 8:00 pm on 2019/10/10 Permalink
    Tags: awards, laurels, , nobel prize 2018, nobel prize 2019, olga tokarczuk, peter handke   

    Notable Works from Peter Handke and Olga Tokarczuk, Newly Named Winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature 

    Last year, the literary world lamented when the Swedish Academy announced that it would not award the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature due to a scandal involving the husband of one of its members. Today, the Swedes made up for the omission with a 1-2 punch, announcing the retroactive winner of the 2018 award—Polish author Olga Tokarczuk—and the 2019 recipient, controversial Austrian novelist and playwright Peter Handke.

    Every year, it seems, the run-up to the announcement of the next Nobel Laureate is marked by speculation that the winner will be a commercial choice—Haruki Murakami is often the odds-on favorite—but more often than new, the Academy sees fits to honor writers whose literary worth isn’t necessarily match by their mainstream success. These newly announced winners are a bit of both—though neither is as widely read in America as Murakami or recent winners like Alice Munore, Kazuo Ishiguro, or, um, Bob Dylan, neither are they obscure; Tokarczuk is considered one of the most commercially successful literary writers of her generation and recently earned international acclaim for her 2018 Man Booker Prize-winning novel Flights (notably, she is one of only 14 women to earn the honor since 1901), while Peter Handke’s long career includes dozens of acclaimed plays and novels as well as the screenplays several well-regarded films from director Wim Wenders, including Wings of Desire.

    To help you familiarize yourself with the work of our two new Nobel Laureates, we’ve highlighted a small selection of their work below.

    Olga Tokarczuk

    Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
    Janina is a retired schoolteacher living in a remote Polish village who likes to pass the time studying horoscopes, translating William Blake’s poetry, and looking after the usually empty summer homes of part-time residents. When one of her neighbors, whom she has nicknamed Big Foot, is found dead, followed by an increasing number of other locals, Janina injects herself into the investigation, determined to discover the culprit. While Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is in essence a literary mystery, its macabre humor, quirky characters, and spot-on, breathtaking observations about humanity push it beyond any one genre, making it it as unclassifiable as it is utterly unforgettable.

    This disarming collection of essays and vignettes features tales of wanderers, vacationers, explorers. Each story is distinct, yet certain themes are interwoven throughout the book: meditations on the nature of travel, on the limits of the human body, on what it means to be in motion. The stories jump back and forth in time and crisscross the globe; various characters find themselves in variously strange situations. A young man’s wife and child mysteriously vanish while they are on vacation together, and then just as mysteriously reappear; a woman returns to Poland to assist with the suicide of a dying friend. A profound, perplexing and then suddenly illuminating novel filled with shining moments.

    Primeval and Other Times
    One of Tokarczuk’s earlier works, Primeval and Other Times is a fascinating, dynamic story chronicling the lives of the oft-unlucky inhabitants of Primeval, a mythical Polish village, whose political history loosely mirrors that of 20th century Poland. There’s an examination of the push-pull of modernity vs. the natural world and the periodic brutality suffered—and accepted—as a part of ordinary village life. Written in an almost allegorical style with hints of magical realism, this novel has a quiet, almost hypnotic power.

    Peter Handke

    The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick
    The first of Peter Handke’s novels to be translated into English, this 1970 novel (later adapted into a film by frequent Handke collaborator Wim Wenders) chronicles the upsetting existence of a disgraced football goalkeeper-turned-construction worker who one night, after mistakenly believing he has been fired from his unsatisfying job, spends a night with a woman he meets at the cinema, then abruptly kills her. The rest of the book follows his slow decline as he wanders aimlessly around a dull Austrian town. Playing out like a fractured detective story internalized, the novel depicts the way the goalie’s thoughts grow distracted and disordered in prose that becomes increasingly diffuse, ending on a note of profound ambiguity. The dreamlike narrative seems to suggest that our understanding of the goalie’s life is distorted by the limitations of language itself.

    Don Juan: His Own Version
    A much more recent selection from Handke’s body of work, this 2004 novel offers the author’s own sly take on the life of that most legendary of “Latin lovers.” Ostensibly Don Juan’s own account of his lurid life story, the narrative is delivered to us through the eyes of a hapless innkeeper who the lothario deems worthy of hearing his scandalous misdeeds. Each day, Don Juan treats the innkeeper to an account of what he did exactly one week prior—stories invariably tilted toward the erotic. But the novel isn’t really about sex—this Don Juan is less a conqueror than a victim of ardor, and the pleasure comes in the vividness and humanity of the narrator’s account of his larger-than-life exploits.

    Wings of Desire, directed by Wim Wenders, written by Wenders and Peter Handke
    Wings of Desire was German director Wim Wenders’ follow-up to his internationally acclaimed Paris, Texas; co-written by Handke, it is both strikingly uncommercial and deeply universal. It is set in Cold War era Berlin, a city still divided by animosity and the Berlin Wall (the German title translates to The Sky Over Berlin), but that infamous structure if of little import to the host of angels who watch over the city—they frequently pass right through it. These angelic beings aren’t guardians in the traditional Christian sense (they only occasionally have wings, preferring long trench coats); they are more like observers, wandering unseen through the streets, listening to the worried thoughts of passersby and occasionally stopping to place a comforting hand on a particularly troubled shoulder. One angel, Damiel (played by Bruno Ganz), finds himself drawn more and more to his human charges; their chaotic lives fascinate his ordered mind to the point that he eventually decides to fall from grace and become one of them—if only to feel closer to Marion (Solveig Dommartin), an acrobat in a run down circus, who has drawn his eye. We watch Damiel experience life, discovering what it means to be cold, or hungry, or tired; where the Hollywood remake—the Nicholas Cage/Meg Ryan weeper City of Angels—was all about love, Wenders and Handke seem much more interested in the human condition, and the resulting film is deeper for it: transcendent. 

    What do you think of this year’s Nobel Laureates?

    The post Notable Works from Peter Handke and Olga Tokarczuk, Newly Named Winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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