Tag Archives: literature

Colson Whitehead, Rep. John Lewis win National Book Awards

On a night of nervous laughter and cathartic tears and applause, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad won the National Book Award for fiction and Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis, of Georgia, shared the prize for young people’s literature for a graphic novel about his civil rights activism.

The awards were presented in mid-November during an emotional dinner ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan, with Larry Wilmore serving as host and President-elect Donald Trump the running theme and arch-villain.

From Wilmore’s opening monologue through virtually every award announcement, speakers in the deep-blue literary community addressed Trump’s stunning upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton and how authors should respond.

“Outside is the blasted hellhole wasteland of Trumpland, which we’re going to inhabit,” said Whitehead, whose Oprah Winfrey-endorsed narrative about an escaped slave already was the year’s most talked about literary work. “I hit upon something that made me feel better: be kind to everybody, make art and fight the power.”

Daniel Borzutzky’s The Performance of Becoming Human won for poetry and historian Robert Caro was presented an honorary medal for lifetime achievement.

No speaker moved the crowd more than Lewis, who collaborated with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell on a trilogy of illustrated works titled March. Cited for the finale, March: Book Three, the 76-year-old Lewis became tearful as he remembered a librarian in his native Alabama who refused to let him borrow books because of his skin color. He then remembered an elementary school teacher who told him “Read, my child, read!”

“And I tried to read everything,” he said.

Lewis’ win marked two rarities for the National Book Awards, now in their 67th year: a prize for a graphic novel and for a member of Congress. In 2004, the government-drafted 9-11 Commission Report was a nonfiction finalist.

Wilmore, whose rueful jokes about Trump at the beginning of the night seemed to depress rather than amuse the gathering of writers, publishers, editors and others, got a good laugh at the end when he called the evening the BET (Black Entertainment Television) production of the National Book Awards.

The awards are presented by the National Book Foundation and the ceremony was the first under executive director Lisa Lucas, the first black and first woman to have the job. Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America won for nonfiction and an honorary award was given to the founders of Cave Canem, a Brooklyn-based foundation for black poets.

“I spent years looking at the absolute worst of America, its horrible history of racism, but in the end I never lost faith,” Kendi said. “In the midst of the human ugliness of racism, there is the human beauty of the resistance to racism.”

Each of the winners in the four competitive categories received $10,000.

Choices are made by panels of judges that include writers, critics, journalists and scholars.

Many of the nominated books seemed to take on added relevance and even urgency in the week after the election. The Underground Railroad is a deep look into the culture of this country during the Civil War, and Arlie Russell Hochschild’s nonfiction Strangers In Their Own Land a modern journey to a conservative Louisiana community.

Fiction nominee Jacqueline Woodson, whose Another Brooklyn is a coming of age story about a black girl in the 1970s, said she was feeling a “a mixture of sobriety and hope” and “gratitude for what is both a distraction and a call to work.” Nonfiction nominee Andres Resendez said we were living in a “new era” and needed more than ever to study the past.

“We still have much to learn and discover about this shameful part of our history, and thus the exploration will surely continue and intensify,” said Resendez, a finalist for The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America.

Every speech seemed to touch upon the present even when Trump wasn’t named.

Caro spoke of his books about Lyndon Johnson and municipal builder Robert Moses and how his aim was to show how political power really operated.

A co-founder of Cave Canem, Cornelius Eady, referred to a certain building (Trump Tower) further north in Manhattan and how he feared that the President-elect and his aides were “trying to write a narrative about who we are and who we are supposed to be and what they intend to do about it.”

“It’s our duty to make sure we get to write our story …” he said, “the fullness of who we are, the contradictions of who we are, in our own language, in our own way.”

Notable Nobel literature winners from the past

The Swedish Academy announced on Oct. 13 that Bob Dylan is this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The prize has been awarded since 1901, when French poet Sully Prudhomme became the inaugural winner of the literature award.

The 2015 laureate was Belarusian writer and journalist Svetlana Alexievich.

The average age of the winning author is 65.

Rudyard Kipling, the British author who is perhaps best known for The Jungle Book, is still the youngest recipient from 1907 when he was 41.

The 2007 winner, Doris Lessing, also British, is the oldest at 88. Lessing, whose work ranged from memoir to science fiction, is one of only 14 female laureates.

Dylan will receive 8 million Swedish kronor (about $930,000), as well as a cherished medal.

Only two individuals have declined the award.

Boris Pasternak, who was best-known for the epic Doctor Zhivago, refused the award in 1958 following pressure from authorities in the Soviet Union, while French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre rejected it in 1964 because of a long opposition to such honors.

Here’s the list…

Bob Dylan

“for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2015

Svetlana Alexievich

“for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2014

Patrick Modiano

“for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2013

Alice Munro

“master of the contemporary short story”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

Mo Yan

“who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2011

Tomas Tranströmer

“because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2010

Mario Vargas Llosa

“for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2009

Herta Müller

“who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2008

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio

“author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2007

Doris Lessing

“that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2006

Orhan Pamuk

“who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2005

Harold Pinter

“who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2004

Elfriede Jelinek

“for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2003

John M. Coetzee

“who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2002

Imre Kertész

“for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2001

Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul

“for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2000

Gao Xingjian

“for an æuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1999

Günter Grass

“whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1998

José Saramago

“who with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1997

Dario Fo

“who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1996

Wislawa Szymborska

“for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1995

Seamus Heaney

“for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1994

Kenzaburo Oe

“who with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1993

Toni Morrison

“who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1992

Derek Walcott

“for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1991

Nadine Gordimer

“who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1990

Octavio Paz

“for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1989

Camilo José Cela

“for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man’s vulnerability”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1988

Naguib Mahfouz

“who, through works rich in nuance – now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous – has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1987

Joseph Brodsky

“for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1986

Wole Soyinka

“who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1985

Claude Simon

“who in his novel combines the poet’s and the painter’s creativeness with a deepened awareness of time in the depiction of the human condition”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1984

Jaroslav Seifert

“for his poetry which endowed with freshness, sensuality and rich inventiveness provides a liberating image of the indomitable spirit and versatility of man”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1983

William Golding

“for his novels which, with the perspicuity of realistic narrative art and the diversity and universality of myth, illuminate the human condition in the world of today”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1982

Gabriel García Márquez

“for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1981

Elias Canetti

“for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1980

Czeslaw Milosz

“who with uncompromising clear-sightedness voices man’s exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1979

Odysseus Elytis

“for his poetry, which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clear-sightedness modern man’s struggle for freedom and creativeness”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1978

Isaac Bashevis Singer

“for his impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1977

Vicente Aleixandre

“for a creative poetic writing which illuminates man’s condition in the cosmos and in present-day society, at the same time representing the great renewal of the traditions of Spanish poetry between the wars”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1976

Saul Bellow

“for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1975

Eugenio Montale

“for his distinctive poetry which, with great artistic sensitivity, has interpreted human values under the sign of an outlook on life with no illusions”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1974

Eyvind Johnson

“for a narrative art, far-seeing in lands and ages, in the service of freedom”

Harry Martinson

“for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1973

Patrick White

“for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1972

Heinrich Böll

“for his writing which through its combination of a broad perspective on his time and a sensitive skill in characterization has contributed to a renewal of German literature”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1971

Pablo Neruda

“for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1970

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

“for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1969

Samuel Beckett

“for his writing, which – in new forms for the novel and drama – in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1968

Yasunari Kawabata

“for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1967

Miguel Angel Asturias

“for his vivid literary achievement, deep-rooted in the national traits and traditions of Indian peoples of Latin America”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1966

Shmuel Yosef Agnon

“for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people”

Nelly Sachs

“for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel’s destiny with touching strength”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1965

Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov

“for the artistic power and integrity with which, in his epic of the Don, he has given expression to a historic phase in the life of the Russian people”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1964

Jean-Paul Sartre

“for his work which, rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth, has exerted a far-reaching influence on our age”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1963

Giorgos Seferis

“for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1962

John Steinbeck

“for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1961

Ivo Andric

“for the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1960

Saint-John Perse

“for the soaring flight and the evocative imagery of his poetry which in a visionary fashion reflects the conditions of our time”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1959

Salvatore Quasimodo

“for his lyrical poetry, which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1958

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak

“for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1957

Albert Camus

“for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1956

Juan Ramón Jiménez

“for his lyrical poetry, which in Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistical purity”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1955

Halldór Kiljan Laxness

“for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1954

Ernest Miller Hemingway

“for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1953

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill

“for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1952

François Mauriac

“for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1951

Pär Fabian Lagerkvist

“for the artistic vigour and true independence of mind with which he endeavours in his poetry to find answers to the eternal questions confronting mankind”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1950

Earl (Bertrand Arthur William) Russell

“in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1949

William Faulkner

“for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1948

Thomas Stearns Eliot

“for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1947

André Paul Guillaume Gide

“for his comprehensive and artistically significant writings, in which human problems and conditions have been presented with a fearless love of truth and keen psychological insight”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1946

Hermann Hesse

“for his inspired writings which, while growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the classical humanitarian ideals and high qualities of style”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1945

Gabriela Mistral

“for her lyric poetry which, inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1944

Johannes Vilhelm Jensen

“for the rare strength and fertility of his poetic imagination with which is combined an intellectual curiosity of wide scope and a bold, freshly creative style”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1943

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1942

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1941

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1940

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1939

Frans Eemil Sillanpää

“for his deep understanding of his country’s peasantry and the exquisite art with which he has portrayed their way of life and their relationship with Nature”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1938

Pearl Buck

“for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1937

Roger Martin du Gard

“for the artistic power and truth with which he has depicted human conflict as well as some fundamental aspects of contemporary life in his novel-cycle Les Thibault

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1936

Eugene Gladstone O’Neill

“for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1935

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1934

Luigi Pirandello

“for his bold and ingenious revival of dramatic and scenic art”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1933

Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin

“for the strict artistry with which he has carried on the classical Russian traditions in prose writing”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1932

John Galsworthy

“for his distinguished art of narration which takes its highest form in The Forsyte Saga

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1931

Erik Axel Karlfeldt

“The poetry of Erik Axel Karlfeldt”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1930

Sinclair Lewis

“for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1929

Thomas Mann

“principally for his great novel, Buddenbrooks, which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1928

Sigrid Undset

“principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1927

Henri Bergson

“in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1926

Grazia Deledda

“for her idealistically inspired writings which with plastic clarity picture the life on her native island and with depth and sympathy deal with human problems in general”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1925

George Bernard Shaw

“for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1924

Wladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont

“for his great national epic, The Peasants

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1923

William Butler Yeats

“for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1922

Jacinto Benavente

“for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1921

Anatole France

“in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized as they are by a nobility of style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1920

Knut Pedersen Hamsun

“for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1919

Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler

“in special appreciation of his epic, Olympian Spring

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1918

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1917

Karl Adolph Gjellerup

“for his varied and rich poetry, which is inspired by lofty ideals”

Henrik Pontoppidan

“for his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1916

Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam

“in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1915

Romain Rolland

“as a tribute to the lofty idealism of his literary production and to the sympathy and love of truth with which he has described different types of human beings”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1914

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1913

Rabindranath Tagore

“because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1912

Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann

“primarily in recognition of his fruitful, varied and outstanding production in the realm of dramatic art”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1911

Count Maurice (Mooris) Polidore Marie Bernhard Maeterlinck

“in appreciation of his many-sided literary activities, and especially of his dramatic works, which are distinguished by a wealth of imagination and by a poetic fancy, which reveals, sometimes in the guise of a fairy tale, a deep inspiration, while in a mysterious way they appeal to the readers’ own feelings and stimulate their imaginations”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1910

Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse

“as a tribute to the consummate artistry, permeated with idealism, which he has demonstrated during his long productive career as a lyric poet, dramatist, novelist and writer of world-renowned short stories”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1909

Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf

“in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1908

Rudolf Christoph Eucken

“in recognition of his earnest search for truth, his penetrating power of thought, his wide range of vision, and the warmth and strength in presentation with which in his numerous works he has vindicated and developed an idealistic philosophy of life”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1907

Rudyard Kipling

“in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1906

Giosuè Carducci

“not only in consideration of his deep learning and critical research, but above all as a tribute to the creative energy, freshness of style, and lyrical force which characterize his poetic masterpieces”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1905

Henryk Sienkiewicz

“because of his outstanding merits as an epic writer”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1904

Frédéric Mistral

“in recognition of the fresh originality and true inspiration of his poetic production, which faithfully reflects the natural scenery and native spirit of his people, and, in addition, his significant work as a Provençal philologist”

José Echegaray y Eizaguirre

“in recognition of the numerous and brilliant compositions which, in an individual and original manner, have revived the great traditions of the Spanish drama”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1903

Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson

“as a tribute to his noble, magnificent and versatile poetry, which has always been distinguished by both the freshness of its inspiration and the rare purity of its spirit”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1902

Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen

“the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, A history of Rome

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1901

Sully Prudhomme

“in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect”

‘Behind Closed Doors’ is gripping domestic thriller

The domestic thriller genre is based on a simple theme — sometimes the worst terror comes not from strangers but from those closest to us.

That premise receives a gripping workout in B.A. Paris’ terrifying and often realistic debut. Behind Closed Doors, a best-seller last year in the U.K., is now receiving its U.S. launch.

Grace Harrington expected a happily-ever-after ending when she married successful, charming and handsome Jack Angel after a whirlwind romance. Besides, they aren’t the only couple who decided to wed a few months after they met, nor are they the only ones who married without having first slept together. Jack seems perfect, especially because he genuinely seems to care about Grace’s 17-year-old sister, Millie, who has Down’s syndrome.

But Grace discovers on their wedding night that Jack is only interested in the facade of perfection that his new wife brings to the marriage. By day, she is a virtual prisoner in her bedroom in the couple’s pristine mansion in Spring Eaton, England. Grace knows she has to obey Jack’s every demand and keep up appearances, especially when they have guests for dinner.

Behind Closed Doors alternates between the couple’s past and present, showing how relentless intimidation has affected Grace. Once a bright, independent executive whose job took her around the world, she is soon reduced to timidity. Jack has made it clear that he will hunt her down and harm Millie if Grace leaves him.

Jack’s constant haranguing sometimes makes him resemble a villain from a melodrama who has come looking for the rent. One expects the cape and moustache to appear at any moment. Still, the sense of believably and terror that engulfs Behind Closed Doors doesn’t waver.

Elie Wiesel’s literary legacy

For more than a half-century, Elie Wiesel voiced his passionate beliefs to world leaders, celebrities and general audiences in the name of victims of violence and oppression.

Wiesel, who died on July 2, wrote more than 40 books of fiction and non-fiction, but his most influential by far was Night, a classic ranked with Anne Frank’s diary as standard reading about the Holocaust.

Here’s a look at some of his published works and distinctions:


> 1960: His first book Night, was first published in the U.S. in 1960. It has been translated into 30 languages and has sold millions of copies.

> 1961: Dawn, a novel.

> 1970: A Beggar in Jerusalem, a novel that won a French literary award

> 1980: The Testament a novel.

> 1995: All Rivers Run to the Sea, the first of his two-volume memoirs.

> 1999: And the Sea is Never Full, the second of his two-volume memoirs.


> 1978: President Jimmy Carter appointed him to head the President’s Commission on the Holocaust and plan an American memorial museum to Holocaust victims.

> 1985: President Ronald Reagan presented him with U.S. Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his “humanitarian efforts and outstanding contributions to world literature and human rights.”

> 1986: In awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee called him as “a messenger to mankind” and “one of the most important spiritual leaders and guides in an age when violence, repression and racism continue to characterise the world.”

> 1992: President George H.W. Bush presented him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, saying Wiesel survived the Holocaust and “still today keeps watch against the forces of hatred.”

> 2001: Wiesel is granted the rank of grand croix in the French Legion of Honor, France’s premier award.

> 2013: Israel President Shimon Peres awarded him the Presidential Medal of Distinction, the country’s highest civil medal, for his “ongoing work in preserving the memory of the Holocaust.”

Pride 2016 summer reading list

Whether you’re headed to the beach, the pool or the Pride Parade, it doesn’t hurt to have a book with you to pass the time. The 22 titles below range from poetry and fiction to memoirs and non-fiction. In other words, there is almost something for everyone.

images - pride - BookNightSky– Poetic license –

Now in its second printing, a remarkable achievement for a book of poetry, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, the full-length debut collection by lauded gay poet Ocean Vuong, not only deserves of all the praise it has already received (including a Whiting Award), but much of the acclaim that is sure to follow in its wake.

Award-winning lesbian writer and educator Julie Marie Wade seamlessly merges the poetry and memoir realms of her work in Catechism: A Love Story, resulting in a dazzling collection of poetic essays about loving others and learning to love oneself.

Poetry by Jeff Mann, Trebor Healey, Alan Martinez, Mark Ward, Daniel Allen Cox, Jonathan Lay, Miles Griffis, Stephen Mead, and a collaboration by Elizabeth J. Colen and Carol Guess, are among the selections found in the anthology Not Just Another Pretty Face, edited by Louis Flint Ceci.

images - pride - BookGuapa– Fictional forays –

Taking place in the 24 hours in and around the time that Rasa, “a gay man living in an unnamed Arab country,” is outed by his grandmother — putting the lives of him, his boyfriend Taymour and others in jeopardy — Saleem Haddad’s debut novel Guapa, is a welcome introduction to a new literary voice.

The late Jackie Collins often included gay characters in her beach-read novels, including Dante, the gay brother of Lucky Santangelo. The “ever-powerful” Lucky is the main focus of Collins’ final novel The Santangelos.

19th century literary icon George Eliot (born Marian Evans) wrote her famous novels including Middlemarch under a male pseudonym in order for her work to be taken seriously. Eliot is the subject of The Honeymoon by Dinitia Smith, about the author’s brief, late-in-life marriage to the considerably younger John Walter Cross.

Arriving in time for the 2016 political season, The Pink Bus, by journalist and critic Christopher Kelly, takes us on a journey through Texas Senate candidate Patrick Francis Monaghan’s life, following an assassination attempt during a campaign stop.

images - pride - BookWhatever– YA? OK! –

The Great American Whatever, the third YA novel by gay writer Tim Federle, described as a “winning testament to the power of old movies and new memories,” introduces us to 16-year-old Quinn who, in the midst of mourning the death of his sister just might be falling in love.

David Levithan is no stranger to collaboration, writing several novels including Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist with Rachel Cohn and Will Grayson, Will Grayson with YA legend John Green. He teams up with Nina LaCour for the novel You Know Me Well, a “friends at first sight” story told in alternating chapters about Mark and Kate.

Born of YA author Kody Keplinger’s “love of female friendship,” fifth novel Run, features bi Bo and sheltered Agnes, who run away from home and experience a series of life-changing experiences that only deepens their unlikely friendship.

Written and illustrated by Emmy Award-winning puppet designer and builder Laurent Linn, the fittingly titled Draw The Line tells the story of Adrian Piper, the superhero character named Graphite that he draws, and how one can discover their own superpowers in a time of need.

Set about 100 years into the future, The Chronicles of Spartak: Rising Son by “soldier, teacher, journalist, state legislator, literary commissioner” Steven A. Coulter, is the first in a series told “through the eyes” of 16-year-old athlete Spartak Jones.

images - pride - BookLittleHouse– The memoir’s the thing –

Baptist pastor’s son Garrard Conley’s Boy Erased: A Memoir is about his family’s inability to come to terms with his being gay, leading to the writer spending time at the soul-crushing ex-gay Christian ministry formerly known as Love In Action, and how he survived the experience.

As any survivor of sexual abuse can attest, the violation knows no sexual identity. So while The Telling: A Memoir is written by a straight woman, Zoe Zolbrod, it’s the kind of book that has the potential to ignite conversations among every type of reader.

Electronic music legend and activist Moby (aka Richard Melville Hall), a longtime friend of the LGBT community who counted gay DJs including the late Frankie Knuckles and Danny Tenaglia among his closest associates, tells his story in Porcelain: A Memoir.

Co-written by actress Charlotte Stewart with Andy Demsky, Little House in the Hollywood Hills, subtitled “A Bad Girl’s Guide to Becoming Miss Beadle, Mary X, and Me,” details Stewart’s 50 year career in movies and on television, including roles in Little House on the PrairieEraserhead and Twin Peaks, and her friendships with Joni Mitchell and others.

Long out of print, Blue Days, Black Nights, Oscar-nominated screenwriter Ron Nyswaner’s brutal memoir of his decline into drugs and sexual obsession has been reissued with an introduction by director Jonathan Demme and an epilogue by Nyswaner.

With the lengthy subtitle, “Writers Reflect on Love, Longing and the Lasting Power of Their First Celebrity Crush,” co-editors Cathy Alter and David Singleton’s Crush features contributions by queer writers such as Richard McCann (crushing on Bette Davis), Shane Harris (on Mark Hamill) and Roxane Gay (on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s husband Almanzo) and straight writers including Jodi Picoult (on Donny Osmond), Steven King (on Kim Novak) and James Franco (on River Phoenix).

If having four lesbian moms isn’t inspiration enough for a memoir such as Queerspawn in Love, then Kellen Anne Kaiser’s own personal journey, including a stint in the Israeli army and the challenges of maintaining a heterosexual romance certainly qualify as fodder.

A memoir about “raising a gender creative child from toddler to adult,” My Son Wears Heels by Julie Tarney begins with the chapter “How Do You Know I’m A Boy?,” a question she was asked by her then two-year-old son Harry in the early 1990s, and follows the author on her quest for answers.

images - pride - BookNotWhite– Necessary non-fiction –

Kevin Mumford, a professor of history at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana is the author of Not Straight, Not White, a history of the role played by black gay men in the gay rights movement that stretches from before the March on Washington, in the ’50s, to the AIDS crisis in the ’80s.

In Fair Play, Cyd Zeigler, “one of the foremost experts on LGBT issues in sports,” writes about “how sports have transformed for LGBT athletes,” including Michael Sam, Britney Griner, Jason Collins, John Amaechi, Billy Bean and Fallon Fox.

Rudolfo Anaya’s “Bless Me, Ultima” to be made into an opera

Rudolfo Anaya’s famed novel “Bless Me, Ultima,” one of the most recognizable works of Mexican-American Literature and a book some scholars believed sparked the Chicano literary movement in the late 1960s, is being made into an opera.

National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque announced this week it’s collaborating with Opera Southwest to commission the work based on Anaya’s novel set in 1940s New Mexico about a boy and a traditional healer called a curandera.

The opera will be written by California-based composer Hector Armienta and is slated to be produced in 2018, center executive director Rebecca Avitia confirmed.

Avitia said “Bless Me, Ultima” is a magical piece of literature that would work well as an opera production. “I like the idea of changing the narrative around opera for Latinos,” Avitia said. “This isn’t a genre we’re accustomed to so I think this could open more Latinos to opera.”

Experts say Anaya’s World War II-area novel about a young Mexican American boy’s relationship with an older curandera influenced a generation of Latino writers because of its imagery and cultural references that were rare at the time of its publication.

Despite its popularity on college campuses throughout the years, the novel has been banned in some Arizona schools.

The novel was made into a feature film in 2013.

Anaya, sometimes called the godfather of contemporary Chicano literature, was born in Pastura, New Mexico, and raised in nearby Santa Rosa.

Irene Vasquez, chair of Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at the University of New Mexico, said she was excited that the novel was being adopted into an opera. It is required reading for students in the department, she said.

“This will give our students an incredible opportunity to bring the sounds of a narrative to life,” Vasquez said. “Being able to attend an opera like this will be a great experience.”

Avitia said the opera will be shown in Albuquerque and California.

Recommended Earth Day reading

When spring begins and Earth Day rolls around, I join my neighborhood cleanup efforts and catch up on books about our environment.

This year I read Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. In this fascinating tour of our biosphere, I learned again how interdependent and vulnerable all species of flora and fauna are.

I haven’t studied science in many years, so the book helped me brush up on different aspects of geology, biology and zoology. It synthesizes in a very readable format the many crises posing an existential threat to life on our planet.

The introductory chapters show the way extinction events have been viewed historically, including theories about what caused the first five great extinction events on our planet. There is not one cause for all of them; some were gradual, and at least one was sudden and catastrophic.

Through discussions and observations with many scientists in the field, Kolbert argues that we may be starting to experience a sixth extinction due to human intrusion and global warming.

I found the testimony of the many scientists she spoke with compelling. They include herpetologists, botanists, marine biologists, paleontologists, ornithologists and more. All are conducting field studies whose findings point to rapid, alarming changes in plant and animal ecosystems.

The scientists reveal damage caused by invasive species and the collapse of tree populations and coral reefs. They document the loss of animal habitat due to over-hunting and over-fishing. They testify to the damaging impacts of warming waters and ocean acidification.

Kolbert reminds us that although humans have known since the late 19th century that burning fossil fuels warms the planet, we are failing to change our destructive habits.

Some people hate The Sixth Extinction and its thesis, because they either cannot or do not want to believe that people are responsible for any of this. Or they cling to their faith that their God will somehow resolve everything in the end.

There are also huge industries whose wealth is built on ecological destruction and whose riches support the campaign to deny global warming.

How we are going to reverse or ease the damage already done is the greatest moral and practical challenge we face. The science is pretty clear and Kolbert’s book is an excellent wake-up call.

I also read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard’s nature essays published in 1974. Dillard kept a diary of a year spent in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley observing and interacting with nature.

Dillard is not a scientist, so her approach is one of a lay observer writing with curiosity, wonder and sometimes horror about the beauty and cruelty of nature. She draws vivid pictures of insect mating habits, aquatic diversity, bird migration, animal predation and the rebirth of plant life in the spring. Her writing is expository but also poetic.

This is how she describes the falling leaves and coming of winter: “When the striptease is over; things stand mute and revealed. Everywhere skies extend, vistas deepen, walls become windows, doors open. … All that summer conceals, winter reveals.”

Ultimately, Dillard is a pilgrim on a journey of faith, searching for the Creator who built a world of such complexity. I don’t share her conclusion about a creator, but I respected and enjoyed her journey.

On 400th anniversary, exhibit examines Shakespeare’s act

From a dress worn by Vivien Leigh as Lady Macbeth to a “Hamlet” script owned by famous stage actors, a new exhibition explores how William Shakespeare became “the Bard” 400 years after his death.

“Shakespeare in Ten Acts” looks at 10 key performances of the playwright’s works, from the first showing of “Hamlet” at the Globe theater around 1600 to a contemporary version of that play in the digital age.

The exhibition opens at London’s British Library as theater fans prepare to mark the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on April 23, 1616.

“It’s really difficult to do full justice to Shakespeare’s legacy over the last 400 years,” exhibition lead curator Zoe Wilcox said in a British Library video handout.

“We’re not just looking at Shakespeare the man or his most famous plays, we’re focusing in on 10 significant performances of his work that tell us something about the way that his plays have been constantly reinvented through the ages.”

A woman is reflected in glass next to a human skull owned by Sarah Bernhardt during the press preview of the exhibition 'Shakespeare in Ten Acts' at the British Library in London, Britain April 14. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
A woman is reflected in glass next to a human skull owned by Sarah Bernhardt during the press preview of the exhibition ‘Shakespeare in Ten Acts’ at the British Library in London, Britain April 14. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Highlights include the only surviving play-script in Shakespeare’s handwriting, in which he describes the plight of refugees. Also on show is a human skull inscribed with poetry given by French writer Victor Hugo to actress Sarah Bernhardt, which she used when playing Hamlet in 1899.

Visitors will also be able to see a “Hamlet” script owned by the likes of Michael Redgrave, Peter O’Toole and now Kenneth Branagh and theater playbills showing the career highs and lows of Ira Aldridge, the first black actor to play “Othello” on the English stage in 1825, organizers said.

“We are using the full range of things we have at our disposal to bring them (the acts) to life,” Wilcox said.

“So sound, video, costumes, props, paintings, everything we can to give people a sense of what those performances would have felt like had you been attending them.”

“Shakespeare in Ten Acts” runs until September.

A human skull owned by Sarah Bernhardt is seen during the press preview of the exhibition 'Shakespeare in Ten Acts' at the British Library in London, Britain April 14. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
A human skull owned by Sarah Bernhardt is seen during the press preview of the exhibition ‘Shakespeare in Ten Acts’ at the British Library in London, Britain April 14. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Duchovny hits home run with new novel

Actor David Duchovny, recently seen as Fox Mulder on “The X-Files” TV revival, follows his humorous New York Times best-seller “Holy Cow” with another funny and heartfelt story, “Bucky F—— Dent.”

Ted Fullilove doesn’t have much of a life. He lives alone, works at Yankee Stadium in a Mr. Peanut costume and is estranged from his father.

Although he works for the Yankees, he’s passionate about the Boston Red Sox.

In the 1978 season, the Sox have a lead that looks insurmountable, and Ted wonders if this finally will be the year the Sox break the Bambino curse. Ever since the owner of the Red Sox traded away Babe Ruth to the Yankees at the end of the 1919 season, the Yankees have had success and the Red Sox have wallowed in misery.

Ted’s father, Marty, who is stricken with cancer and dying, loves the Red Sox. Though they haven’t spoken in years, Ted decides to move in with Marty so he can take care of him. Their relationship is strained, but they find solace and comfort together with baseball. Marty wants to live long enough to see the curse of the Sox broken. As the season progresses, Ted begins to steal newspapers and makes sure Marty hears the Sox are winning, though the Yankees are actually gaining in the standings.

Baseball fans will know why Duchovny gave the title to this book, and he does a terrific job of blending quirky and emotional writing in this story that is ultimately about the relationship between a father and his son.

Duchovny has hit this one out of the park.

On Goodreads

“Bucky F—— Dent.”

Study shows gender gap narrowing in book coverage

A new study of literary publications finds that men remain the majority of book reviewers and authors reviewed, but the gap is narrowing.

VIDA, otherwise known as Women in Literary Arts, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that The New Republic and Harper’s were among those showing notable increases in the representation of women in their book coverage. VIDA chair Amy King said the report showed some “upticks worth noting,” but also cautioned against possible backlash that “happens with increased awareness.”

“We see regular improvements, some large and some incremental, which makes us cautiously optimistic; however even great strides seem to also regularly take one or two steps back,” said King, noting, for instance, that men outnumbered women by 2-to-1 for The Paris Review’s book coverage in 2015. Two years earlier, the ratio was nearly even.

Debate sparked

VIDA (www.vida.org) sparked an extensive debate in the book world when it released its first study, in 2011, showing vast disparities between men and women at such elite and politically liberal publications as The New Yorker, Harper’s and The New York Review of Books, where more than 80 percent of the reviewers in 2010 were men and a similar percentage of the books were written by men. As in previous years, the current charts were compiled by a team of VIDA volunteers.

In an email to The Associated Press, Paris Review editor Lorin Stein said that year-to-year changes in gender representation were a matter of “about a dozen poems in one column or the other, a handful of stories.” He noted that the magazine has given four of its last five Plimpton Prizes for fiction, awarded to outstanding new writers who have appeared in the magazine, to women: Emma Cline, Ottessa Moshfegh, April Ayers Lawson and Amie Barrodale.

“But that’s not why those women got the prize,” he said. “They got it because they were the best new voices in the magazine. That’s just how we work.”

He also cited the online Paris Review Daily, which, he said, consistently publishes more work by women.

“Again — and I want to stress this — we’re not counting heads. It just works out that way,” he said.

At The New Republic, just nine books reviewed in 2010 were by women, compared with 55 by men. In 2015, a year marked by numerous staff changes amid contention with owner Chris Hughes, 24 books reviewed were by women and 19 by men. At The New York Times Book Review, the number of women book reviewers jumped from 295 in 2010 to 475 last year, six higher than the total of male book reviewers.

At Harper’s, the byline gap between men and women narrowed from 65-13 in 2010 to 64-50 in 2015. “Harper’s overall numbers reflect editor Christopher Beha’s public commitment to improvement,” King said.

At The New York Review of Books, the man-woman ratio for reviewers has changed just slightly, from 200-39 in 2010 to 216-52 last year. The disparity at The New Yorker also has become smaller, although male bylines are still far more common, 453-232, compared with a nearly 3-1 margin in 2011.

The New Yorker’s editorial director, Henry Finder, called the numbers “sobering.” He added that he was “pretty hopeful” the results for 2016 “will look less unequal.”

Vida defines its mission as increasing “critical attention to contemporary women’s writing as well as further transparency around gender equality issues in contemporary literary culture.”