The Wellcome Book Prize Short List!

As in past years, beloved patrons, we are celebrating awards that bring us diverse reading materials, authors, and funds that celebrate the written word.  Today, we are delighted to bring you the shortlist for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize, which was announced this morning in London.

The Wellcome Institute was originally funded by Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (pictured at right), a fascinating entrepreneur, born in Wisconsin in 1853, whose first business was peddling invisible ink (it was lemon juice).  He later went into pharmaceuticals, where he revolutionized medicine by developing medicine in tablet form, though he called them ‘Tabloids’.  Upon his death, Wellcome vested the entire share capital of his company in individual trustees, who were charged with spending the income to further human and animal health, and even left specifics in his will as to the building in which the collections were to be housed.  Today, the Wellcome Trust, which funds all this gloriousness, is now one of the world’s largest private biomedical charities.

Yay for Science! (From the Wellcome Collection)

I cannot recommend exploring the Wellcome Collection online to you enough.  Because of their dedication to education and engagement, a surprisingly vast amount of their exhibits have online components, and a good deal of their archives and library are digitized, making it possible to access their treasure trove of educational riches from the comfort of your living room (or local Library!).  Their exhibits range from the emotional and contemporary, such as videos and talks on military medicine, to the sublimely bizarre, like this gallery on curatives and quack medicine.  Throughout their work is a very firm dedication not only to education, but to sparking a love of learning in their visitors, and that work pays huge dividends.

And, as part of their outreach efforts, and in the hope of encouraging more quality and creative writing in the sciences, the Wellcome Trust also funds one of the largest book prizes around, providing 30,000 GBP (right now, about $37,500) to it chosen author.  As described on the Wellcome Book Prize site, all the books that are nominated have “a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness.”  While this dedication to science is wonderful, the Wellcome Prize also recognizes art, standing by its core principles by recognizing that such books “can cover many genres of writing – including crime, romance, popular science, sci-fi and history.”  Thus, their list includes both non-fiction and fiction, in order to celebrate those works that “add new meaning to what it means to be human.”

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The Wellcome Book Award, via FMcM

The winner of the Wellcome Book Prize will be announced at an evening ceremony on Wednesday 1 May at the Wellcome Collection headquarters in London, and it will be our pleasure to bring you the headlines as soon as they are printed!  Until then, let’s take a look at the Wellcome Book Prize Shortlist Honorees:

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh: Our narrator should be happy, shouldn’t she? It’s the year 2000, and she lives in a city full of potential, wealth, and glamor.  She’s young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. So what could be so terribly wrong?  Through the story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs designed to heal our heroine from her alienation from this world, Moshfegh shows us how reasonable, even necessary, alienation can be. Both tender and blackly funny, merciless and compassionate, it is a showcase for the gifts of one of our major writers working at the height of her powers.

Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man by Thomas McBee: In this groundbreaking new book, the author, a trans man, trains to fight in a charity match at Madison Square Garden while struggling to untangle the vexed relationship between masculinity and violence. Through his experience boxing—learning to get hit, and to hit back; wrestling with the camaraderie of the gym; confronting the betrayals and strength of his own body—McBee examines the weight of male violence, the pervasiveness of gender stereotypes, and the limitations of conventional masculinity. A wide-ranging exploration of gender in society, and its effects on the smallest details of our lives, McBee’s tale is ultimately a story of hope, tracing a new way forward, a new kind of masculinity, inside the ring and outside of it.

Murmur by Will Eaves: Please note, this title will be released April 9, 2019. In this intense, hallucinatory story, Will Eaves, a celebrated poet,  brings us into the brilliant mind of Alec Pryor, a character inspired by Alan Turing. Turing, father of artificial intelligence and pioneer of radical new techniques to break the Nazi Enigma cipher during World War II, was later persecuted by the British state for “gross indecency with another male” and forced to undergo chemical castration.  This novel unfolds in the weeks leading up to Turning/Pryor’s suicide, and offers a glimpse into not only the life of one remarkable human being, but into the very nature of consciousness, as well as an unflinching look at the systems of prejudice and privilege that seek to limit human expression in all its forms.

Heart: A History by Sandeep Jauhar: For centuries, the human heart seemed beyond our understanding: an inscrutable shuddering mass that was somehow the driver of emotion and the seat of the soul. But as cardiologist and author Sandeep Jauhar shows,  it was only recently that we demolished age-old taboos and devised the transformative procedures that have changed the way we live. Deftly alternating between key historical episodes and his own work, Jauhar tells the colorful and little-known story of the doctors who risked their careers and the patients who risked their lives to know and heal our most vital organ. He introduces us to Daniel Hale Williams, the African American doctor who performed the world’s first open heart surgery in Gilded Age Chicago. We meet C. Walton Lillehei, who connected a patient’s circulatory system to a healthy donor’s, paving the way for the heart-lung machine. And we encounter Wilson Greatbatch, who saved millions by inventing the pacemaker―by accident. Jauhar deftly braids these tales of discovery, hubris, and sorrow with moving accounts of his family’s history of heart ailments and the patients he’s treated over many years. He also confronts the limits of medical technology, arguing that future progress will depend more on how we choose to live than on the devices we invent.

The Trauma Cleaner : One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in the Business of Death, Decay, and Disaster by Sarah Krasnostein: Homicides and suicides, fires and floods, hoarders and addicts. When properties are damaged or neglected, it falls to Sandra Pankhurst, founder of Specialized Trauma Cleaning (STC) Services Pty. Ltd. to sift through the ashes or sweep up the mess of a person’s life or death. Her clients include law enforcement, real estate agents, executors of deceased estates, and charitable organizations representing victimized, mentally ill, elderly, and physically disabled people. In houses and buildings that have fallen into disrepair, Sandra airs out residents’ smells, throws out their weird porn, their photos, their letters, the last traces of their DNA entombed in soaps and toothbrushes.  The remnants and mementoes of these people’s lives resonate with Sandra. Before she began professionally cleaning up their traumas, she experienced her own. First, as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home. Then as a husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, and trophy wife. In each role she played, all Sandra wanted to do was belong. Sarah Krasnostein brings Sandra’s life of light in all its complexity, and, in so doing, forces us to reckon with the experiences that set us apart, and those we all share in common.

Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery by Arnold Thomas Fanning: Please note, this title will be released on October 1, 2019. Arnold Thomas Fanning had his first experience of depression during adolescence, following the death of his mother. Some 10 years later, an up-and-coming playwright, he was overcome by mania and delusions. Thus began a terrible period in which he was often suicidal, increasingly disconnected from family and friends, sometimes in trouble with the law, and homeless in London. Drawing on his own memories, the recollections of people who knew him when he was at his worst, and medical and police records, he has produced a beautifully written, devastatingly intense account of madness—and recovery, to the point where he has not had any serious illness for over a decade and has become an acclaimed playwright. Fanning conveys the consciousness of a person living with mania, psychosis and severe depression with a startling precision and intimacy, providing insight that has the potential to change our thinking about these conditions, both medically and socially.

Six Book Saturday

Yesterday was not a day for lighthearted posts, dear readers.  But we also want to remind you that the Library is a place to come if you have troubles, if you need answers, or if you are looking for a temporary escape from the rest of the world.  And in the spirit of that final concept, we wanted to give you a chance to see some of the new books that arrived on our shelves this week, in the hopes they might offer some escape, some insight, and some solace.

Smoke and Ashes: Fans of Abir Mukherjee’s historical mysteries featuring WWI veteran Captain Sam Wyndham and the fascinating Indian Sergeant “Surrender-Not” Banerjee will be delighted to hear that their next adventure has arrived.  Living in India in 1921, Captain Wyndham is battling a serious addiction to opium that he must keep secret from his superiors in the Calcutta police force. When Sam is summoned to investigate a grisly murder, he is stunned at the sight of the body: he’s seen this before. Last night, in a drug addled haze, he stumbled across a corpse with the same ritualistic injuries. It seems like there’s a deranged killer on the loose. Unfortunately for Sam, the corpse was in an opium den―and revealing his presence there could cost him his career.  With the aid of his quick-witted Indian Sergeant, Surrender-Not Banerjee, Sam must try to solve the two murders, all the while keeping his personal demons secret, before somebody else turns up dead.  This is a series that features some sensational historical research, and has plenty of twists and turns to keep mystery fans enthralled!  BookPage agrees, calling this third series installment “Riveting. Mukherjee has a substantive grasp of colonial Indian history, and his books have the feel of a modern-day and much more progressive Kipling, full of high intrigue and derring-do, yet overlaid with the day-to-day reality of a struggle with addiction.”

The Devil Aspect: We’ve got some great historic mysteries and thrillers this week, friends, and Craig Russell’s new book is proof!  Set in Prague 1935, this book follows Viktor Kosárek, a psychiatrist newly trained by Carl Jung, arrives at the infamous Hrad Orlu Asylum for the Criminally Insane. The state-of-the-art facility is located in a medieval mountaintop castle outside of Prague, though the site is infamous for concealing dark secrets going back many generations. The asylum houses the country’s six most treacherous killers–known to the staff as The Woodcutter, The Clown, The Glass Collector, The Vegetarian, The Sciomancer, and The Demon–and Viktor hopes to use a new medical technique to prove that these patients share a common archetype of evil, a phenomenon known as The Devil Aspect. As he begins to learn the stunning secrets of these patients, five men and one woman, Viktor must face the disturbing possibility that these six may share another dark truth.  Meanwhile, fear grips the city of Prague as a phantom serial killer emerges in the dark alleys. Police investigator Lukas Smolak, desperate to locate the culprit (dubbed Leather Apron in the newspapers), realizes that the killer is imitating the most notorious serial killer from a century earlier–London’s Jack the Ripper. Smolak turns to the doctors at Hrad Orlu for their expertise with the psychotic criminal mind, though he worries that Leather Apron might have some connection to the six inmates in the asylum.  Steeped in the folklore of Eastern Europe, and set in the shadow of Nazi darkness erupting just beyond the Czech border, this novel earned a starred review from Booklist, who called it “One of the most memorable thrillers of the year; it’s also unique: the premise is strikingly original, and the mood created by the juxtaposition of the patients’ memories and the real-time horrors is utterly chilling.”

Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States: Ten years ago, Samantha Allen was a suit-and-tie-wearing Mormon missionary. Now she’s a senior Daily Beast reporter happily married to another woman. A lot in her life has changed, but what hasn’t changed is her deep love of Red State America, and of queer people who stay in so-called “flyover country” rather than moving to the liberal coasts.  In this moving, funny, and insightful book, Allen takes us on a cross-country road-trip stretching all the way from Provo, Utah to the Rio Grande Valley to the Bible Belt to the Deep South. Her motto for the trip: “Something gay every day.” Making pit stops at drag shows, political rallies, and hubs of queer life across the heartland, she introduces us to scores of extraordinary LGBT people working for change, from the first openly transgender mayor in Texas history to the manager of the only queer night club in Bloomington, Indiana, and many more. Capturing profound cultural shifts underway in unexpected places and revealing a national network of chosen family fighting for a better world, this is a book that the Los Angeles Times called “necessary for anyone in — or allied with — the queer community, especially those of us who see the bad news day after day. [Allen is] sharing the beauty of the spaces that LGBTQ+ people have carved out for themselves, and she’s giving credit where credit is very much overdue, because it’s the queer folk who live and stay in red states — whether by choice or due to a lack of options — who have to survive there and work to make them better.”

Joy and 52 Other Very Short Stories: Erin McGraw’s stories are very, very short, but they pack a remarkable amount of emotion, humor, and profundity.  I each of them, narrators step out of themselves to explain their lives to us, sometimes defensively, sometimes regretfully, other times deceitfully. Voices include those of the impulsive first-time murderer, the depressed pet sitter, the assistant of Patsy Cline, the anxiety-riddled new mother, the aged rock-and-roller, the girlfriend of your husband―human beings often (incredibly) unaware of the turning points staring them in the face. Crossing time, states, class, and religions, McGraw’s stories dance on the edge of pain and humor, causing you to wince even as you laugh, and guarantee you won’t be forgetting these bite-sized marvels any time soon.  Publisher’s Weekly gave this collection a starred and a boxed review (high praise indeed!), noting that McGraw is “a master of the form . . . McGraw is wise and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, with a seventh sense for the perfect turn of phrase . . . This quintessential collection of stories serves as an homage to the form while showcasing McGraw’s stunning talent and deep empathy for the idiosyncrasies, small joys, and despairs of human nature.”

The Wolf and the Watchman: Named the Best Debut Novel of 2017 by the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers, this book is being compared to some of the most beloved authors of recent memory, from Stieg Larsson to Umberto Eco, and so it’s quite a treat to share it with you here.  One morning in the autumn of 1793, watchman Mikel Cardell is awakened from his drunken slumber with reports of a body seen floating in the Larder, once a pristine lake on Stockholm’s Southern Isle, now a rancid bog. Efforts to identify the bizarrely mutilated corpse are entrusted to incorruptible lawyer Cecil Winge, who enlists Cardell’s help to solve the case. But time is short: Winge’s health is failing, the monarchy is in shambles, and whispered conspiracies and paranoia abound.  Winge and Cardell become immersed in a brutal world of guttersnipes and thieves, mercenaries and madams, as their gruesome investigation peels back layer upon layer of the city’s labyrinthine society. The rich and the poor, the pious and the fallen, the living and the dead—all collide and interconnect with the body pulled from the lake.  This delightfully dark tale also earned a starred review from Kirkus, who noted that “Natt och Dag examines the effects of a brutal murder on those who investigate it—and explores the psychological causes for the crime…Chilling and thought-provoking. Relentless, well-written, and nearly impossible to put down.”

The Lives of the Surrealists: Surrealism did not begin as an art movement but as a philosophical strategy, a way of life, and a rebellion against the establishment that gave rise to the First World War.  And in this fascinating book, Desmond Morris (himself a Surrealist) concentrates on the artists who are associated with the movement as fully-rounded people. Unlike the Impressionists or the Cubists, the surrealists did not obey a fixed visual code, but rather the rules of surrealist philosophy: work from the unconscious, letting your darkest, most irrational thoughts well up and shape your art. An artist himself, and contemporary of the later surrealists, Morris illuminates the considerable variation in each artist’s approach to this technique. While some were out-and-out surrealists in all they did, others lived more orthodox lives and only became surrealists at the easel or in the studio. Focusing on the thirty-five artists most closely associated with the surrealist movement, Morris lends context to their life histories with narratives of their idiosyncrasies and their often complex love lives, alongside photos of the artists and their work.  Publisher’s Weekly also gave this delightful tome a starred review, saying, “Each of these biographical entries is thoughtfully accompanied by a lesser-known work of art by each artist, along with photographs of the artists as they appeared in their most active years. Alternatively funny, ribald, and at times genuinely moving, Morris’s fittingly off-kilter tribute to the Surrealist movement itself and the eclectic men and women who carried its torch is a true joy.”

Until next week, beloved patrons–Happy Reading!

“You have not been created to perish, but to remain forever”: Remembering those we lost in Christchurch

“Whoever kills an innocent person it is as though he has killed all mankind, And whoever saves a life it is as though he had saved all mankind.”

(The Holy Quran, 5:32)

We send our heartfelt condolences to all the families of the individuals who lost their lives today in New Zealand, and we send our hopes and our hearts out to for a speedy recovery for the injured.

The Man Booker International Prize Longlist is here!

‘Tis the season for sensational book awards, beloved patrons, and yesterday, the longlist for the Man Booker International Prize, which celebrates the best novels written in a language other than English, and the translations that makes them accessible to us as English readers. The £50,000 prize is split between the winning author and translator.  This years’ list is a celebration of independent publishers, women’s voices, and diverse forms of story-telling, and we can’t wait to add these books to our reading lists!

Via https://themanbookerprize.com/international/news/2019-longlist-announced-man-booker-international-prize

Bettany Hughes, chair of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize judging panel, said:

This was a year when writers plundered the archive, personal and political. That drive is represented in our longlist, but so too are surreal Chinese train journeys, absurdist approaches to war and suicide, and the traumas of spirit and flesh. We’re thrilled to share 13 books which enrich our idea of what fiction can do.

The shortlist for this award will be announced April 9th and the winner will be announced May 21st.   This will, incidentally, also be the last year that the prize is known under this title.  Next year, the prize will be known as the International Booker Prize, as the sponsorship from the Man Group comes to an end and the prize’s new sponsor, Crankstart, begins.  We’ll be bringing you all the highlights and announcements, as ever.

Home

Just so you know, where these books are available, links have been provided to the NOBLE catalog.  Otherwise, information on when the title may be available is provided.  You can always check with your friendly public service staff for further information.  And now, without further ado, here is the 2019 Man Booker International Prize Longlist!

Author (Original Language –Country/territory), translator, title 

  • Jokha Alharthi (Arabic / Omani),  Marilyn Booth, Celestial Bodies This title is currently unavailable
  • Can Xue (Chinese / Chinese), Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, Love In The New Millennium 
  • Annie Ernaux (French / French), Alison L. Strayer, The Years 
  • Hwang Sok-yong (Korean / Korean), Sora Kim-Russell, At Dusk This title will be released on July 16, 2019
  • Mazen Maarouf (Arabic / Icelandic and Palestinian), Jonathan Wright, Jokes For The Gunmen 
  • Hubert Mingarelli (French / French), Sam Taylor, Four Soldiers Available via ComCat–please check with a public service staff member for details
  • Marion Poschmann (German / German), Jen Calleja, The Pine Islands This title is currently unavailable–please check back later for updates.
  • Samanta Schweblin (Spanish / Argentine and Italian), Megan McDowell, Mouthful Of Birds 
  • Sara Stridsberg (Swedish / Swedish), Deborah Bragan-Turner, The Faculty Of Dreams This title is currently unavailable–please check back later for updates.
  • Olga Tokarczuk (Polish / Polish), Antonia Lloyd-Jones, Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead Available via ComCat–please check with a public service staff member for details
  • Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Spanish / Colombian), Anne McLean, The Shape Of The Ruins 
  • Tommy Wieringa (Dutch / Dutch), Sam Garrett, The Death Of Murat Idrissi  This title is currently unavailable–please check back later for updates.
  • Alia Trabucco Zeran (Spanish / Chilean), Sophie Hughes, The Remainder This title will be released on August 6, 2019
An enormous Free-For-All congratulations to all the nominated authors and translators!

Five Book Friday!

And a very happy International Women’s Day, beloved patrons!

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International Women’s Day began in 1908, when 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York in support of shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.  One year later, the Socialist Party of America declared a National Women’s Day on Sunday, February 28–the day was specifically chosen to allow even working women to participate.  And one year after that, at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, Clara Zetkin of Germany suggested an International Women’s Day. The day, as she proposed, would be recognized in every country, to advocate for issues critical to all women.   The next International Women’s Day, in 1911, was recognized by nine countries.

In 1913, the Russian Socialist Party moved the celebration to March 8, the day on which it is still observed today.  During the First World War, women’s work in international pacifist organizations used this day to promote work across borders and above international hostilities to make life better for human people everywhere. Though they didn’t bring the war to an end (though not through lack of trying), in 1917, women in Russian went on strike with a message of “peace and bread”–and four days later, the Tzar abdicated, signaling an end to Russia’s involvement in the First World War.

The United Nations recognized International Women’s Day in 1975, and the celebration has since spread around the world.  This year’s international theme is #BalanceforBetter, which emphasizes the need to build a gender-balanced world.  We are delighted to be celebrating International Women’s Day at the Library today, and Women’s History Month throughout March–stop by to see our fantastic Women’s History Month display!

And now, on to the books!

This Scot of Mine: Sophie Jordan is a favorite here at the Library, and we’re delighted that her newest historical romance has made its way to our shelves!  Desperate to escape her vile fiancé, Lady Clara devises a bold lie—that she’s pregnant with another man’s child. With her reputation in tatters, Clara flees to Scotland to live out her days in disgrace, resigned to her fate as a spinster…until she claps eyes on the powerful and wickedly handsome Laird Hunt MacLarin. Hunt needs an heir, but he comes from a long line of men cursed to die before the birth of their firstborn. When the Duke of Autenberry approaches him with a proposition—marry my ruined sister—it seems the perfect solution. Even better, the defiant lass stirs him to his very soul.  But even as Clara finds herself falling in love with her erstwhile husband, both she and Hunt fear the curse that hangs over the MacLarin line.  Will their love prove stronger than fate?  This is a surprisingly fun, emotion-packed adventure that has Jordan’s many fans enthralled.  Booklist was among the legions offering it praise, calling this book another expertly calibrated mix of vibrantly etched characters and steamy sensuality that will delight both longtime fans and new readers alike.”

The City in the Middle of the Night: Charlie Jane Anders is in possession of one formidable imagination, and this newest novel is proof positive that she is an author to watch.  January is a dying planet–divided between a permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other. Humanity clings to life, spread across two archaic cities built in the sliver of habitable dusk. But life inside the cities is just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside. Sophie, a student and reluctant revolutionary, is supposed to be dead, after being exiled into the night. Saved only by forming an unusual bond with the enigmatic beasts who roam the ice, Sophie vows to stay hidden from the world, hoping she can heal. But fate has other plans–and Sophie’s ensuing odyssey and the ragtag family she finds will change the entire world.  Though the description sounds bleak, but the reality is that this is a joyful, adventurous, utterly engaging romp that will have appeal for sci-fi fans and literature-lovers alike.  Publisher’s Weekly, who gave this book a starred review, agrees, calling this book “Intricate, embracing much of what makes a grand adventure: smugglers, revolutionaries, pirates, camaraderie, personal sacrifice, wondrous discovery, and the struggle to find light in the darkness. Breathlessly exciting and thought-provoking.”

After She’d Gone: Named the Best Nordic Crime Novel of the Year by the Crime Writers of Scandinavia, Camilla Grebe’s second novel featuring psychological profiler Hanne Lagerlind-Schön is a must read for fans of Nordic mysteries.  Out of the frozen depths of a forest in Ormberg, Sweden, a woman stumbles onto the road. Her arms are covered with scratches, her feet are bare, and she has no memory of who she is. Local police identify her as Hanne Lagerlind-Schön, who, with her partner, had been helping  investigate the cold case of a young woman’s murder. Hanne begins to recover but cannot recall anything about where her partner is, or what their investigation had uncovered before her disappearance. Police have only one lead: a young woman in a sequined dress who was spotted nearby the night Hanne was found. The young woman doesn’t come forward because she doesn’t exist: Jake Birgersson, a local teenager, had been out walking in his mother’s dress and sister’s makeup, his secret shame and thrill. Terrified of discovery, Jake hid and watched Hanne get into a car, leaving behind her diary. Reading Hanne’s notebook, Jake realizes that it contains the key to a major breakthrough in the case—but turning it in would mean admitting the truth about who he is. When another murder victim is found in the woods, Jake realizes that Hanne herself is in danger, and his only choice is to find and warn her so that together, they can stop the killer before he strikes again.  Needless to say, with all its stellar reviews and the Grebe’s legion of fans, this is a book to savor.  Publisher’s Weekly agrees.  They gave this book a starred review and called it a “stellar crime novel . . . Grebe delivers an unflinching, heart-wrenching message about the plight of refugees in this scorching thriller.”

Women Warriors: An Unexpected History: The woman warrior is always cast as an anomaly—Joan of Arc, not GI Jane. But women, it turns out, have always gone to war. In this fascinating and lively world history, Pamela Toler not only introduces us to women who took up arms, she also shows why they did it and what happened when they stepped out of their traditional female roles to take on other identities.  These are the stories of women who fought because they wanted to, because they had to, or because they could.  Toler’s work introduces you to women as diverse and fascinating as Tomyris, ruler of the Massagetae, who killed Cyrus the Great of Persia when he sought to invade her lands, The Trung sisters, Trung Trac and Trung Nhi, who led an untrained army of 80,000 troops to drive the Chinese empire out of Vietnam, and Buffalo Calf Road Woman, the Cheyenne warrior who knocked General Custer off his horse at the Battle of Little Bighorn.  Moving, entertaining, and thoroughly illuminating, Library Journal gave this book a starred review, cheering, “Toler blows past all expectations with this thoroughly delightful, personable, and crucially important history of women warriors.”

Woman 99:  When Charlotte Smith’s wealthy parents commit her beloved sister Phoebe to the infamous Goldengrove Asylum, Charlotte knows there’s more to the story than madness. She risks everything and follows her sister inside, surrendering her real identity as a privileged young lady of San Francisco society to become a nameless inmate, Woman 99. The longer she stays, the more she realizes that many of the women of Goldengrove aren’t insane, merely inconvenient ― and that her search for the truth threatens to dig up secrets that some very powerful people would do anything to keep. A historical thriller rich in detail, deception, and revelation, Greer Macallister’s novel is a gripping, heart-wrenching exploration of gender injustices that are still coded into our medical system today.  Booklist loved this title, noting how well it succeeds in “Exploring sisterhood, trauma, and the power of shared experience, Woman 99 is an undercover glimpse inside a late nineteenth-century treatment facility. Macallister fearlessly probes the dark corners of the era, exposing barbaric treatments and backward thinking surrounding mental illness.”

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

The Women’s Prize 2019 Longlist is here!

And we could not be more excited!

Via https://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/reading-room/news/announcing-the-womens-prize-for-fiction-2019-longlist

Just as a reminder, The Women’s Prize for Fiction is the UK’s most prestigious annual book award that specifically celebrates fiction by women.  It was founded in 1996 to ” celebrate originality, accessibility & excellence in writing by women and to connect world-class writers with readers everywhere.”

Over the years, the Prize has had several sponsors, the most recent of which was Bailey’s.  From 2018, however, the prize has moved to a collaborative sponsorship model, which means that it is now just “The Women’s Prize for Fiction,” and we must admit, we like that name!

This year is a banner one because, for the first time in the Prize’s 27-year history, a non-binary transgender author has made the shortlist.  Thirty-one-year-old Nigerian author Akwaeke Emezi is nominated for their first novel, Freshwaterwhich is being hailed on both sides of the Atlantic.  Emezi, who does not identify as male or female and lives in Brooklyn, and is in good company among seven debut authors on the longlist.

“It is a historic moment,” Professor Kate Williams, chair of judges, told the Guardian. “We’re very careful not to Google the authors while judging, so we did not know. But the book found great favour among us, it is wonderful. They are an incredibly talented author and we’re keen to celebrate them.”  We are, also delighted to confirm that Emezi is very happy with their inclusion on the Women’s Prize Longlist.

Image result for women's prize longlist
via The Evening Standard https://static.standard.co.uk/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/2019/03/04/10/womens-prize-for-fiction-1.jpg?w968

The shortlist of books for the Women’s Prize will be announced on April 29, and the winners will be announced on June 5.  We’ll be eagerly waiting to bring you more details about this fabulous prize as they are announced, but for now, here is the list of nominated titles.  Where available, links are provided so you can request the book and get reading.  When possible, we’ve also included the US publication date for titles not yet released here.

The 2019 longlist is:

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton  (This title is not yet available in the US)
My Sister, the Serial Killer Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Pisces Melissa Broder
Milkman Anna Burns
Freshwater Akwaeke Emezi
Ordinary People Diana Evans
Swan Song Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott (This title is not yet available in the US)
An American Marriage Tayari Jones
Number One Chinese Restaurant Lillian Li
Bottled Goods Sophie van Llewyn (Check with a member of the public service staff to access this title)
Lost Children Archive Valeria Luiselli
Praise Song for the Butterflies Bernice L. McFadden
Circe Madeline Miller
Ghost Wall Sarah Moss
Normal People Sally Rooney

 

A hearty Free-For-All congratulations to all the nominated authors!

Binge Worthy Book to Netflix Adaptations!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Series by Jenny Han
This YA series turned Netflix movie tells the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters. Fans of the book series will be excited for the accuracy of casting and enjoy the subtle moments they were able to translate from book to screen. 
Book to Netflix Rating: 7/10

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
An unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. This episodic adaptation just finished it’s third and final season which was overwhelmingly a success. The showrunners translated the wit of Lemony Snicket almost perfectly and the episodes were funny, exciting, and just a little bit macabre!
Book to Netflix Rating: 9/10

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person’s consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or “sleeve”) making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen. Season two is slated to premiere sometime this year and we can only hope it will be as fantastic as the first season!
Book to Netflix Rating: 8.5/10

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. While the book and Netflix series create a discussion about mental health/suicide I’ve found the series does a lackluster job in bringing up suicide prevention and understanding warning signs. Jay Asher’s is a little more versed on the subject but unfortunately it’s one of those stories that’s started to become obsolete under newer and more educated stories about the same topic. 
Book to Netflix Rating: 4/10 (I’d also like to add a Trigger Warning for suicidal ideation and mentions of self-harm, depression, and suicide.)

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
#GIRLBOSS” proves that being successful isn’t about how popular you were in high school or where you went to college (if you went to college). Rather, success is about trusting your instincts and following your gut, knowing which rules to follow and which to break. The Netflix adaptation is wickedly funny if not a little over the top at points. Sophia is quirky and abrasive but as the show progresses you see her true personality shine through!
Book to Netflix Rating: 7.5/10

Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Last but not least is the huge hit Bird Box! In a post-apocalyptic world, Malorie Hayes advises two young, unnamed children that they will be going downstream on a river in a boat. She strictly instructs them to not remove their blindfolds, or else they will die. Interweaving past and present, this story is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page or scene.  Netflix reported that Bird Box had the biggest seven-day viewership for any of its original films to date, with over 45 million accounts, with views defined by the company as the film streaming for over 70 percent of its time! From page to screen the adaptation if decently faithful even though the story type has been done to death. The ratings are lower than you would expect for the amount of hype it attracted.
Book to Netflix Rating: 6.5/10

Happy Reading and Watching!

"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." ~Frederick Douglass