All posts by peaadmin

Looking Ahead to May…

As T.S. Eliot noted in The Waste Land:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

For us in the Massachusetts area, it’s been a particularly tough month, with more snow than seems fitting for April, nasty storms, and, you know, taxes.

via hellocoton.fr

However, May will soon be upon us, and with May comes the promise of longer days, ice cream stands opening, and new events and classes at the Library!  Check below for some of the highlights from our May Events Calendar, and don’t forget to check out website for a full list of the programs on offer.  You can register on our website, call us at 978-531-0100, or drop by to register, as well!

And, as a friendly reminder, don’t forget that Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of our Summer Schedule here at the Library.   The Main Library and Branches will be closed Saturday May 26Sunday, May 27 and Monday, May 28 in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.  Following Memorial Day, the Main Library’s summer hours are:

Monday through Thursday:  9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday:  9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Saturday:  9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday:  Closed

We look forward to seeing you soon!


At the Main Library & Creativity Lab:

Saturday, May 19, 10:00am – 4:00pm: PILCON 2018!

Welcome to PILCON 2018, the 2nd annual FREE all-ages Comic Con at the Peabody Institute Library! Get free tickets and learn more at http://pilcon.eventbrite.com!  This year will feature even more kids’ activities and projects: Come and explore comics, graphic novels, cosplay, video games, art and books!   Get creative in our Creativity Lab makerspace, and participate in our Iron Cosplay challenge (space is limited)!  Come in your best cosplay and participate in our costume contest!  Attend presentations by artists, podcasters & games for all ages!  This is guaranteed to be a day of excitement and fun for the whole community, from newbies to Comic Con experts!
PILCON is generously sponsored by Century Bank.


At the West Branch

Thursday, May 17, 6:00pm: Novel Arrangements: A Peabody Institute Library Foundation Fundraiser

The Peabody Institute Library Foundation, with the support of Evans Flowers, is hosting a hands-on flower arranging class called Novel Arrangements.  Tickets for this event are required and may be purchased are at all three Peabody Library locations. Ticket cost is $40 and covers all materials as well as wine and cheese.  All proceeds benefit the Peabody Institute Library Foundation, whose mission is to promote, maintain, preserve and enhance the activities and programs of the Peabody Institute Library.  Questions can be directed to Melissa Robinson at mrobinson@noblenet.org or 978-531-0100 ext. 16.


At the South Branch:

Thursday, May 24, 6:30pm – 8:30pm: Basic Digital Video Workshop with Bob Michelson

Join photographer and videographer Bob Michelson at the South Branch Library in a special 2-hour workshop that will teach everything you need to know about digital video! Attendees will get an introduction to video camcorders and their controls as well as to smart phone cameras, compact digital cameras, and DSLR cameras.  Attendees will also learn about videotape recording formats, memory cards, filters and accessories, white balance, composition, video lighting, audio, editing, and more!  Bob Michelson of Photography by Michelson, Inc. is a published underwater photographer/videographer whose work has appeared in numerous books and magazines such as National Geographic, Natural History, Highlights for Children, Field & Stream, TROUT, The Conservationist, and NH Wildlife Journal, and on various broadcast networks such as Discovery Science, ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS.  Space for this program is limited and registration is required.  Register online, call 978-531-3380, or stop by in person.

Happy Spring and Summer, dear readers!

Five Book Friday!

And a very happy Free For All Birthday to Armenian poet Daniel Varoujan.

Varoujan was born Daniel Tchboukkiarian in what is now Sivas, Turkey, on April 20, 1884.  He was educated in Turkey, and later in Venice.  In 1905, he enrolled at the University of Ghent, in Belgium, where he studied literature, sociology and economics.  He returned home in 1909 and worked as a teacher, and married Araksi Varoujan in 1912.

In 1914, Varoujan and several friends established the Mehean, a literary magazine and social group dedicated to Armenian literature and language.  At the time, Armenia was not a country, but a group of people bound together by a common culture, language, and religion, most of whom lived together within the bounds of the Ottoman Empire.  There was also a sizable population of Armenians in the Russian Empire (see the map below this paragraph for a visual).   As a group, Armenians became a target of political and personal violence when the Young Turks came to power in 1907.  The Ottoman Empire (to put it very simply) had been a site of religious and cultural tolerance for most of its history, however, the Young Turks imagined an empire led by those who identified as Turkish, who spoke Turkish, and who practiced the Muslim religion.  As outsiders in this vision, Armenians found themselves in danger of persecution.

Via Wikipedia, By YerevanciOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

With the outbreak of the First World War, and especially with the Ottoman entrance into the war in 1915, Armenians came under even more intense persecution.  As Christians who lived in both the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire (two empires on different sides of the conflict), Armenians were demonized as enemies of the Ottoman state.  On April 24, 1915, the Ottoman government authorized the arrest of Armenian intellectuals, religious and community leaders.  This event is recognized as the beginning of the Armenian Genocide.  Varoujan was among those arrested and later deported.  While on route, eyewitness testimony states that Varoujan and four other Armenian men were robbed, stripped, and tortured by Turkish police officers until they died.  Though his work was confiscated during the genocide, his unfinished work, The Song of the Bread ( in Armenian: Հացին երգը) was rescued by allegedly bribing Turkish officials.  Today, we bring you one of Varoujan’s poems as a tribute to the man, and in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, which is commemorated this coming week:

ANDASTAN *

At the Eastern part of the earth
Let there be peace…
Let sweat, not blood, flow
In the broad vein of the furrow,
And at the toll of each hamlet’s bell
Let there rise hymns of exaltation.

At the Western part of the earth
Let there be fecundity …
Let each star sparkle with dew,
And each husk be cast in gold
And as the sheep graze on the hills
Let bud and blossom bloom.

At the Northern part of the earth
Let there be abundance …
In the golden sea of the wheat field
Let the scythe swim incessantly
And as gates of granaries open wide
Jubilation let there be.

At the Southern part of the earth
Let all things bear fruit…
Let the honey thrive in the beehive
And may the wine run over the cups
And when brides bake the blessed bread
Let the sound of song rise and spread.

Daniel Varoujan 1914

Translated by Tatul Sonentz (via armenian-poetry.blogspot.com)

*Name of the ritual of the Ceremonial Blessing of the 4 corners of the earth — a Sacrement of the Armenian Apostolic Church

The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives: Pulitzer Prize–winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen called on 17 fellow refugee writers from across the globe to shed light on their experiences.  This book brings together stories of writers from Mexico, Bosnia, Iran, Afghanistan, Soviet Ukraine, Hungary, Chile, Ethiopia, to name just a few.  Together, they are a formidable intellectual force: MacArthur Genius grant recipients, National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalists, filmmakers, speakers, lawyers, professors, and New Yorker contributors—and they are all refugees, many as children arriving in London and Toronto, Oklahoma and Minnesota, South Africa and Germany.  These essays reveal moments of uncertainty, resilience in the face of trauma, and a reimagining of identity, forming a compelling look at what it means to be forced to leave home and find a place of refuge.  The Economist wrote a glowing review of this book, noting, in part, that “…[Viet Thanh Nguyen] gives ordinary Westerners a heart-wrenching insight into the uprooted lives led in their midst…the collection succeeds in demonstrating that this dispersed community in some ways resembles other nations. It has its founding myths, but its citizens all have their own tragedies, victories and pain—and each has a story to tell.”

The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and RecoveryIn January 2015, Barbara Lipska—a leading expert on the neuroscience of mental illness—was diagnosed with melanoma that had spread to her brain. Within months, her frontal lobe, the seat of cognition, began shutting down, and she began exhibiting dementia- and schizophrenia-like symptoms that terrified her family and coworkers. But just as her doctors figured out what was happening, the immunotherapy they had prescribed began to work, and repair the damage that had been done to Lipska’s brain and mind.  Just eight weeks after her nightmare began, Lipska returned to her version of normal–with one difference: she remembered her brush with madness clearly and nearly completely.  In this book, Lipska describes her extraordinary ordeal, explaining how mental illness, brain injury, and age can change our behavior, personality, cognition, and memory. She also shares what it is like to experience these changes firsthand, while contemplating what parts of us remain, even when so much else is gone.  This is a remarkable book that looks at illness from the view of both a physician and a patient, told by a scientist and writer of impressive talent.  Science Magazine hailed this book, writing that “Lipska’s evolution as scientist, patient, and person explores the physiological basis of mental illness, while uplifting the importance of personal identity…. Lipska’s prose soars when narrating her experiences… her story is evidence that rich personal narratives offer value to an empirical pursuit of neuroscientific investigation.”

Napa at Last Light: America’s Eden in an Age of CalamityJames Conaway has spent decades covering the Napa region, and in this eye-opening work, he compares the origins of this utopia of wine, started by family vintners and dedicated farmers, and the present-day reality, marked by multinational corporations and their allies who have stealthily subsumed the old family landmarks and abandoned the once glorious conviction that agriculture is the highest and best use of the land.  Inherent in that conviction is the sanctity of the place, threatened now by a relentless drive for profits at the expense of land, water, and even life.  A story about power, money, land, and, most of all, wine, Conaway’s book is an engaging, honest, sometimes unsettling account of an industry and a place undergoing fundamental change–and the people who are caught in the middle.  Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review, declaring, “This is a stunning and sad look at how an idyllic community became a victim of its own success…fascinating and well-researched.”

Lawn Boy: Jonathan Evison manages to balance a moving, small-scale coming-of-age story with a large-scale discussion of class and success that is successful in everything it does.  For Mike Muñoz, a young Chicano living in Washington State, life has been a whole lot of waiting for something to happen. Not too many years out of high school and still doing menial work—and just fired from his latest gig as a lawn boy on a landscaping crew—he knows that he’s got to be the one to shake things up if he’s ever going to change his life. But how?  Though he tries time and again to get his foot on the first rung of that ladder to success, he can’t seem to get a break. But then things start to change for Mike, and after a raucous, jarring, and challenging trip, he finds he can finally see the future and his place in it. And it’s looking really good.  This is a book that has been added to a number of “Best Of” lists for its frank look at the persistence and pernicious nature of the ‘American Dream’, and also earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, who cheered, “Evison convincingly evokes the small disasters and humiliations that beset America’s working poor. Mike’s gradual growth into self-awareness is punctuated by moments of human kindness and grace that transpire in and among broken-down trucks, trailer parks, and strip malls. Focusing on the workers who will only ever be welcome in gated communities as hired help, Evison’s quiet novel beautifully considers the deterioration of the American Dream.”

CirceWe readers have been spoiled by a resurgence and re-imaging of ancient classics of late, and Madeline Miller continues this trend in fine fashion with the tale of Circe, a supporting character in The Odyssey, but the heroine of this fascinating and insightful tale.  The daughter of the all-powerful Titans, Circe is an outsider–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft.  Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology.  But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.  Fans of Greek mythology, epic adventures, and deeply emotional tales will delight in this tale that has been receiving glowing reviews from around the country.  One such review came from The Washington Post, which reads in part, “”One of the most amazing qualities of this novel [is]: We know how everything here turns out – we’ve known it for thousands of years – and yet in Miller’s lush reimagining, the story feels harrowing and unexpected. The feminist light she shines on these events never distorts their original shape; it only illuminates details we hadn’t noticed before.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons: Happy Reading!

The 2018 Pulitzer Prizes!

The Pulitzer Prize was established in 1917 by the Hungarian-born Joseph Pulitzer, who made his name and fortune as a newspaper publisher in the United States.

Pulitzer came the United States and was paid $200 to enlist  in the United States Army during the American Civil War.  Following his discharge, he made his way to Boston, intended to get work aboard the whaling ships of New Bedford.  Whaling, he found to his dismay, was quite boring, so he lived the life of a tramp for some time, sleeping on the streets and traveling in boxcars all the way to St. Louis.  In a town so full of German immigrants, Pulitzer was a welcomed guest, and soon found work in restaurants…and was fired when he dropped a tray and doused a patron in beer.

So Pulitzer did what all wise people do (ahem) and he started hanging out at the Library.  He learned English from the books on the shelf, and decided to strike out on his own, making his way to Louisiana, after some fast-talking steamboat operators convinced him, and a few other men, good-paying jobs on a Louisiana sugar plantation. They boarded a steamboat, which took them downriver 30 miles south of the city, where the crew forced them off. When the boat churned away, the men concluded the promised plantation jobs were a ruse. They walked back to the city, where Pulitzer wrote an account of the fraud and was pleased when it was accepted by the Westliche Post, evidently his first published news story.  He moved back to St. Louis (and near his beloved Library), and began buying shares in newspapers–then selling them, eventually making a profit that allowed him to buy both the St. Louis Dispatch, and the St. Louis Post, and combine them into the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which is still in operation today.

Pulitzer himself was a workhorse, putting in workdays that started at 10am and ended at 2am the next day.  And that work paid off.  Within a decade, he was buying newspapers in cities across the country, and by 1887, he was elected to the US Congress (and resigned so that he could pay attention to his papers).  It is thanks to Pulitzer, and his arch-rival, William Randolph Hearst, that we have the world of news that we do today.  The two of them, quite literally, single-handedly invented modern print journalism by selling advertising space in their papers, and, thus, monetizing the material they were putting out.  In order to ensure that papers sold, they both encouraged their reporters to sell the stories, with eye-catching headlines, passionate story-telling, investigative, hard-hitting articles…and a good helping of sensationalism mixed in to ensure that the public remained riveted.

Pulitzer left Columbia University $2,000,000 in his will upon his death in 1912…this around the time that the average annual income was $500-$700…to found a school of journalism, to ensure the news empire that he build, and the business he had helped to found, would continue to thrive.  Five years later, they established a prize in his name to reward the best that American journalism has to offer.  Since then, the award has expanded to include “Letters, Drama, and Music” as well, making it one of the most prestigious literary awards in the United States.  Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. In twenty of the categories, each winner receives a certificate and a US$15,000 cash award (raised from $10,000 in 2017).

And today, we are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2018 Pulitzer Prizes for “Letters, Drama, and Music”, along with the description provided by the judging board in their selection.  For the full list of awards, see the Pulitzer Prize website here.

Less, by Andrew Sean Greer

“A generous book, musical in its prose and expansive in its structure and range, about growing older and the essential nature of love.”

 

Cost of Living, by Martyna Majok

via costoflivingplay.com

An honest, original work that invites audiences to examine diverse perceptions of privilege and human connection through two pairs of mismatched individuals: a former trucker and his recently paralyzed ex-wife, and an arrogant young man with cerebral palsy and his new caregiver.

 

The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, by Jack E. Davis 

An important environmental history of the Gulf of Mexico that brings crucial attention to Earth’s 10th-largest body of water, one of the planet’s most diverse and productive marine ecosystems.

 

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by Caroline Fraser 

A deeply researched and elegantly written portrait of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie series, that describes how Wilder transformed her family’s story of poverty, failure and struggle into an uplifting tale of self-reliance, familial love and perseverance.

 

Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016, by Frank Bidart

A volume of unyielding ambition and remarkable scope that mixes long dramatic poems with short elliptical lyrics, building on classical mythology and reinventing forms of desires that defy societal norms.

 

Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, by James Forman Jr. 

An examination of the historical roots of contemporary criminal justice in the U.S., based on vast experience and deep knowledge of the legal system, and its often-devastating consequences for citizens and communities of color.

 

DAMN., by Kendrick Lamar

Recording released on April 14, 2017, a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.

Check out more information about the Pulitzer Prizes for Journalism at the Pulitzer Prize website!

National Poetry Month, Week 3!

National Poetry Month was introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States, and, since 1998, it’s also been celebrated in Canada.  The idea for the celebration came when the Academy saw the success of Women’s History Month (in March) and Black History Month (in February), and wanted a way to celebrate and promote the work of poets, and the power of poetry.  So, as a Library who always enjoys a celebration, we are happy to oblige!

via the American Academy of Poets

Today, we bring you a poem by American poet Djuna Barnes.  Barnes was born in a log cabin in New York state in 1892.  Her family life was not a happy one, marked by poverty, sexual abuse, and a forced marriage to a man decades older than her (which was neither consensual or legal).  When her parents split up, Barnes, her mother, and several siblings moved to New York City.  Desperate for work, Barnes applied for a job as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, telling an editor “I can draw and write, and you’d be a fool not to hire me.” Over the next few years her work appeared in almost every newspaper in New York, including The New York Press, The World and McCall’s; she wrote interviews, features, theatre reviews, sat ring-side at boxing matches (she advocated boxing for women), and often illustrated her work with her own drawings.  In 1915, she joined a Bohemian community in Greenwich Village, and began writing and acting with some of the most well-known artists of the day.  A bisexual, a progressive feminist, an avant-garde poet, and a gifted playwright, Barnes’ work was hailed both in the US and the UK, and offered inspiration to writers as diverse as Truman Capote, Dylan Thomas, David Foster Wallace, and Anaïs Nin.

This Much and More

Djuna Barnes1892 – 1982

If my lover were a comet
Hung in air,
I would braid my leaping body
In his hair.

Yea, if they buried him ten leagues
Beneath the loam,
My fingers they would learn to dig
And I’d plunge home!

 

Five Book Friday!

As we mentioned in a post a few years ago, beloved patrons, Friday the 13th is a day that plenty of people fear, but no one really seems to know quite why.  It might have something to do with the Knights Templar, as Dan Brown and Steve Berry have described in their books.  It might be because of  Thomas W. Lawson’s 1907 novel Friday, the Thirteenth, in which a stoke broker decides to take advantage of the superstitions regarding the day and create a panic on Wall Street.  It’s very much an Anglo-American fear, as Wikipedia notes that other cultures have superstitions regarding Tuesdays, or the 17th day of the month rather than the 13th.

Whatever the case may, we’re pretty sure that today is not going to be wildly different from any other Friday…at least insofar as we have books, and they are good, and they are eager to make your acquaintance.  So, without further ago, let’s take a moment to meet some of those brave titles who have trekked on to our shelves this week!

Unbury Carol: Fans of Josh Malerman’s sensational Bird Box need wait no longer, for his newest work is finally out and on our shelves.  This novel is a twisted, dark, and utterly engrossing re-telling of Sleeping Beauty, featuring a heroine named Carol Evers.  Carol has died many times . . . but her many deaths are not final: They are comas, a waking slumber indistinguishable from death, each lasting days.Only two people know of Carol’s eerie condition. One is her husband, Dwight, who married Carol for her fortune, and—when she lapses into another coma—plots to seize it by proclaiming her dead and quickly burying her . . . alive. The other is her lost love, the infamous outlaw James Moxie. When word of Carol’s dreadful fate reaches him, Moxie rides the Trail again to save his beloved from an early, unnatural grave.  And all the while, awake and aware, Carol fights to free herself from the crippling darkness that binds her—summoning her own fierce will to survive.  Brilliantly inventive, hauntingly claustrophobic, and touchingly human, this is another success for Malerman, and will no doubt prove a treat for any fans of his, or Poe, for that matter.  Kirkus Reviews noted in its review that “This one haunts you for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on. . . . Malerman is too fierce an original to allow anyone else’s visions to intrude on his. [He] defies categories and comparisons with other writers.”

Daughters of the Winter Queen: Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia, and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots: Nancy Goldstone’s newest history tells the tale of Elizabeth Stuart, granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots, and her four daughters.  When her godmother, Queen Elizabeth I, died and her father, James I, ascended to the illustrious throne of England, Elizabeth Stuart assumed a life of wealth and privilege that might surprise many even today.  At sixteen she was married to a dashing German count far below her rank, with the understanding that James would help her husband achieve the crown of Bohemia. Her father’s terrible betrayal of this promise would ruin “the Winter Queen,” as Elizabeth would forever be known, imperil the lives of those she loved, and launch a war that would last for thirty years.  Forced into exile, the Winter Queen and her growing family found refuge in Holland, where the glorious art and culture of the Dutch Golden Age formed the backdrop to her daughters’ education. The eldest, Princess Elizabeth, was renowned as a scholar when women were all but excluded from serious study and counted the preeminent philosopher René Descartes among her closest friends. Louise Hollandine, whose lively manner and appealing looks would provoke heartache and scandal, was a gifted painter. Shy, gentle Henrietta Maria, the beauty of the family, would achieve the dynastic ambition of marrying into royalty, although at great cost. But it would be the youngest, Sophia, a heroine in the tradition of Jane Austen, whose ready wit and good-natured common sense masked immense strength of character, who would fulfill the promise of her great-grandmother, a legacy that endures to this day.  Goldstone is a historian who is able to capture not only dates and trends, but to color in the details of individuals, to emphasize their successes and flaws so well that you’ll feel as if you’ve spent time with royalty after reading this book.  Fans of  The Crown, as well as history buffs of all stripes will love this book, which earned a starred review from Library Journal, which called it “A compulsively readable account of an otherwise unfamiliar royal family. Goldstone writes with knowledge, humor, and ease–a masterly storyteller who steers clear of overly academic language. Ideal for amateur Tudor historians who wish to be introduced to a lesser-known yet equally fascinating royal family.”

Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, the Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class:  In early August 1889, César Ritz, a Swiss hotelier highly regarded for his exquisite taste, found himself at the Savoy Hotel in London. He had come at the request of Richard D’Oyly Carte, the financier of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic operas, who had modernized theater and was now looking to create the world’s best hotel.  D’Oyly Carte soon seduced Ritz to move to London with his team, which included Auguste Escoffier, the chef de cuisine known for his elevated, original dishes. The result was a hotel and restaurant like no one had ever experienced, run in often mysterious and always extravagant ways–which created quite a scandal once exposed.  In a tale replete with scandal and opulence, Luke Barr transports readers to turn-of-the-century London and Paris to discover how celebrated hotelier César Ritz and famed chef Auguste Escoffier joined forces at the Savoy Hotel to spawn the modern luxury hotel and restaurant industry.  Booklist loved this energetic and illuminating book, calling it “[A] lively, gossipy account . . . not just a fluidly structured dual biography, but a provocative history of a turning point in the evolving hotel and restaurant industry.”

A Long Way From HomeTwo-time-Booker-Prize-winner Peter Carey is back with a book in which he confronts head-on his native Australia’s history of race and racism, all while capturing the beauty, zaniness, and audacity of its infamous 10,000-mile race, the Redex Trial. Irene Bobs loves fast driving. Her husband is the best car salesman in southeastern Australia. Together they enter the Redex Trial, a brutal race around the ancient continent, over roads no car will ever quite survive. With them is their lanky, fair-haired navigator, Willie Bachhuber, a quiz show champion and failed schoolteacher who calls the turns and creeks crossings on a map that will remove them, without warning, from the white Australia they all know so well and into the heart of a country that is utterly unfamiliar to them–and yet one to which they are inextricably, and inexorably, bound.  As with so many of his best works, Carey uses comedy to soften some his fiercest punches, but doesn’t let the jokes get in the way of the deepest meanings of his books.  Many have agreed this is his best novel in decades (if not his best work, period), and Kirkus Reviews, who gave this work a starred review, said, “This picaresque comedy goes thematically deeper as it heads into the Outback… The comic spirit slyly suggests Shakespeare, an inquiry into identity and the farcical human existence. . . . Carey’s novel raises issues of culture and race that carry a thoroughly contemporary charge.”

A Necessary EvilReaders who enjoyed Abir Mukherjee’s first mystery featuring Captain Wyndham and Sergeant Banerjee of the Calcutta Police Force will delight in their return in this second complex, historically detailed, and polished mystery.  The fabulously wealthy kingdom of Sambalpore is home to tigers, elephants, diamond mines, and the beautiful Palace of the Sun. But when the heir to the throne is assassinated in the presence of Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant ‘Surrender-Not’ Banerjee, they discover a kingdom riven with suppressed conflict. Prince Adhir was a modernizer whose attitudes―and romantic relationships―may have upset the more religious elements of his country, while his brother―now in line to the throne―appears to be a feckless playboy.  As Wyndham and Banerjee desperately try to unravel the mystery behind the assassination, they become entangled in a dangerous world where those in power live by their own rules―and those who cross their paths pay with their lives. They must find a murderer, before the murderer finds them.  Publisher’s Weekly gave this second entry into a sensational series a starred review, calling it “Impressive. This successful evocation of the Raj in the service of a brilliant whodunit demonstrates that Mukherjee’s debut was no fluke.”’

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

National Poetry Month, Week 2!

National Poetry Month was introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States, and, since 1998, it’s also been celebrated in Canada.  The idea for the celebration came when the Academy saw the success of Women’s History Month (in March) and Black History Month (in February), and wanted a way to celebrate and promote the work of poets, and the power of poetry.  So, as a Library who always enjoys a celebration, we are happy to oblige!

via the American Academy of Poets

This week’s poem is by George Moses Horton, who was born into slavery around 1798 in North Carolina.   He taught himself how to read and write using hymnals, the Bible, and cast-off spelling books.  From these, he learned poetry, and to composes verses on his own.  As a result, Horton was the first Black author in the South to publish a book, as well as the only American to publish a book while living in slavery.  The book was titled The Hope of Liberty, and was released in 1829 by the politically liberal journalist Joseph Gales, who was intended to raise funds to purchase Horton’s freedom.  He was not emancipated until 1865, however.  Following his release from slavery, Horton moved to Pennsylvania, where he continued writing poetry that focused on his experiences of a Black man in the United States.  He died in about 1884.

George Moses Horton’s signature, via Wikipedia

On Liberty and Slavery

Alas! and am I born for this,
   To wear this slavish chain?
Deprived of all created bliss,
   Through hardship, toil, and pain!
   
How long have I in bondage lain,
   And languished to be free!
Alas! and must I still complain--
   Deprived of liberty.

Oh, Heaven! and is there no relief
   This side the silent grave--
To soothe the pain--to quell the grief
   And anguish of a slave?
   
Come, Liberty, thou cheerful sound,
   Roll through my ravished ears!
Come, let my grief in joys be drowned,
   And drive away my fears.
   
Say unto foul oppression, Cease:
   Ye tyrants rage no more,
And let the joyful trump of peace,
   Now bid the vassal soar.
   
Soar on the pinions of that dove
   Which long has cooed for thee,
And breathed her notes from Afric’s grove,
   The sound of Liberty.
   
Oh, Liberty! thou golden prize,
   So often sought by blood--
We crave thy sacred sun to rise,
   The gift of nature’s God!
   
Bid Slavery hide her haggard face,
   And barbarism fly:
I scorn to see the sad disgrace
   In which enslaved I lie.
   
Dear Liberty! upon thy breast,
   I languish to respire;
And like the Swan upon her nest,
   I’d to thy smiles retire.
   
Oh, blest asylum--heavenly balm!
   Unto thy boughs I flee--
And in thy shades the storm shall calm,
   With songs of Liberty!

The 2018 Hugo Award Nominees!

The Hugo Award is the the longest running prize for science fiction or fantasy works, having been established in 1953.  Up until 1992, the award was known simply as the Science Fiction Achievement Awards, but was subsequently named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories.  Gernsback was also responsible for creating the idea of a ‘fandom’, to describe a group of people who share a cultural bond over their love of a particular genre–in this case, weird/science fiction.   When readers wrote into Amazing Stories, their addresses were published along with their letters.  As a result readers began to become aware of themselves as fans, and to recognize their collective identity as devotees of the science fiction genre–not bad for 1926.

Since 1993,  Worldcon committees have had the option of awarding Retrospective Hugo Awards for past Worldcon years (1939 onwards) where they had not been presented.  This year, the retrospective awards for 1943 were also announced, which you can read here.

The Hugo Award Trophy, via The Hugo Awards

We’ve discussed at length the problems inherent in the awarding of the Hugos, and several attempts over the last few years to sabotage the process by the groups known as the “Sad Puppies” and the “Rabid Puppies.”  However, as we also noted, saner heads prevailed, the Hugos produced an optimistically diverse and inclusive group of winners last year.  It’s a trend we can only hope will continue, as access to as many types of stories, by as diverse a group of humans as possible can only benefit us, and our imaginations.

So, without further ado, here is a curated list of Hugo Award nominees, with links to the titles available at the Library.  You can read the full list here.

Best Novel

Best Series

Best Graphic Story

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Blade Runner 2049, written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, directed by Denis Villeneuve
  • Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele
  • The Shape of Water, written by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, directed by Guillermo del Toro
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi, written and directed by Rian Johnson
  • Thor: Ragnarok, written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost; directed by Taika Waititi
  • Wonder Woman, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, directed by Patty Jenkins

There are two other Awards administered by Worldcon 76 that are not Hugo Awards:

Award for Best Young Adult Book

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Congratulations to all the Hugo Award Nominees!  We’ll check back in when the winners are announced