Tag Archives: Awards

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!

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

Awards Season: The Bram Stoker Awards!

It’s awards season this year, and we at the Library are thrilled to bring you all the winners–not just from last night’s Academy Awards, but from this year’s Bram Stoker Awards, which were handed out this weekend in Providence Rhode Island!

Each year, the Horror Writer’s Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement, named in honor of Bram Stoker, author of the horror novel to beat all horror novels (and Free For All favorite), Dracula. The Bram Stoker Awards were instituted immediately after the organization’s incorporation in 1987.  The first awards were presented in 1988 (for works published in 1987), and they have been presented every year since. The award itself, designed by sculptor Steven Kirk, is a stunning haunted house, with a door that opens to reveal a brass plaque engraved with the name of the winning work and its author.

How amazing is this?!

The Stoker Awards specifically avoid the word “best”, because it recognizes that horror itself is a genre that is constantly moving, changing, and pushing its own boundaries (and can often be very specific to a place, or a generation).  Instead, it uses the words “Superior Achievement”.  The categories of award have changed over the years, as well, as the genre has evolved, but since 2011, the eleven Bram Stoker Award categories are: Novel, First Novel, Short Fiction, Long Fiction, Young Adult, Fiction Collection, Poetry Collection, Anthology, Screenplay, Graphic Novel and Non-Fiction.

We’ll have some more information regarding Stokercon, the annual meeting of the Horror Writers of America from one of our library staff who attended part of convention, but for now, let’s celebrate the winners (and maybe find some new books to enjoy?)!

Here is a selection of the nominees and winners of the 2017 Bram Stoker Awards, with links to the Library Catalog in the title of each book where applicable:

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Winner: Ararat by Christopher Golden

Also nominated:

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen & Owen King

Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman

I Wish I Was Like You by S.P. Miskowski (access this title via ComCat–check with your friendly reference staff!)

Ubo by Steve Rasnic Tem

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Winner: Cold Cuts by Robert Payne Cabeen

Also nominated:

In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson

What Do Monsters Fear? by Matt Hayward

The Boulevard Monster by Jeremy Hepler (access this title via ComCat–check with your friendly reference staff!)

Kill Creek by Scott Thomas

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

Winner: The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett

Also nominated:

The Door to January by Gillian French

Hellworld by Tom Leveen

The Ravenous  by Amy Lukavics

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

Winner: Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Damian Duffy and Octavia E. Butler

Also nominated:

Darkness Visible by Mike Carey and Ethan David Arvind

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

The Black Monday Murders by Jonathan Hickman (access this title via ComCat–check with your friendly reference staff!)

Monstress Volume 2 by Marjorie Liu

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

Winner: Get Out by Jordan Peele

Also nominated:

The Shape of Water by Guillermo Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor

Stranger Things: MadMax (Episode 2:01) by Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer (Season 2 isn’t available yet, but once it is, we’ll have it for you!)

Twin Peaks, Part 8 by Mark Frost and David Lynch

It by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

Winner: Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of the ’70’s and ’80’s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix

Also nominated:

Horror in Space: Critical Essays on a Film Subgenre by Michele Brittany (access this title via ComCat–check with your friendly reference staff!)

Searching for Sycorax: Black Women’s Hauntings of Contemporary Horror by Kinitra D. Brooks

The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated History by Stephen Jones (access this title via ComCat–check with your friendly reference staff!)

Where Nightmares Come From: The Art of Storytelling in the Horror Genre edited by Joe Mynhardt and Eugene Johnson

 

Check out all the winners of the 2017 Bram Stoker Awards here!

Resolve to Read: The Pura Belpré Award

2018 is a year for expanding our reading horizons, and we here at the Free for All are thrilled to be bringing you suggestions and discussions based on two different reading challenges.  This week, we’re looking at Scholastic’s Reading Resolution Challenge.  It’s a challenge geared towards younger readers, but since when should that stop anyone?  The suggestions on this list hold appeal for readers of all ages (I read to my cat on a regular basis, for example).

This post features the challenge to read a Pura Belpré Award-winning book.  The Pura Belpré Award was established in 1996, and is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library (hooray for Librarians!).  It is presented annually, as the award’s website explains, to a Latino/Latina writer andLatino/Latina illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.

As huge fans of #WeNeedDiverse Books, and as a Library community that revels in sharing all the cultural and personal differences that make our community such a rich one, exploring the books in this award was a real treat.  There are some stunning illustrations and moving stories to be found among the winners of the Pura Belpré Award, and we are thrilled to feature some of them here!

2017 Author Award Winner: 

Juana & Lucas, written and illustrated by Juana Medina: A spunky young girl from Colombia loves playing with her canine best friend and resists boring school activities, especially learning English, until her family tells her that a special trip is planned to an English-speaking place.  According to the award presenters, Medina “presents with breezy humor the day-to-day reflections and experiences universal to childhood—school, family and friendships—through the eyes of the invincible Juana, growing up in Bogotá with her beloved dog, Lucas. This charmingly designed book for young readers portrays the advantages—and challenges—of learning a second language.

2017 Illsutrator Award Winner: 

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, illustrated by Raúl Gonzalez, written by Cathy Camper: Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria are living the dream–they are the proud owners of their very own garage. But when their beloved cat, Genie, goes missing, they must embark on a wild road trip through a mysterious corn maze, into the center of the earth, and down to the realm of Mictlantecuhtli. Mic’s the Aztec god of the Underworld, but even worse: he’s a catnapper! Now it’s three clever compadres against one angry, all-powerful god. How will the Lowriders ever save their cat–or themselves?  According to the award committee, “The ballpoint pen art creates a fantastical borderlands odyssey, packed with subversively playful cultural references that affirm a vibrant Chicanx cultura.”

2016 Author Award Winner: 

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir, by Margarita Engle: In her memoir for young people, Margarita Engle, who was the first Latina woman to receive a Newbery Honor, tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War. Her heart was in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country–but most of the time she lived in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers fly through the enchanted air to her beloved island. When the hostility between Cuba and the United States erupted at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Engle’s worlds collided in the worst way possible. Would she ever get to visit her beautiful island again?  The awards committee noted that “Engle’s memoir of living in two cultures and the inability to cross the sky to visit family will resonate with youth facing similar circumstances.”

2017 Illustrator Award Winner: 

Drum dream girl : how one girl’s courage changed music: Illustrations by Rafael López; Poem by Margarita Engle: This lyrical tale follows a young Cuban girl in the 1930s as she strives to become a drummer, despite being continually reminded that only boys play the drums, and that there’s never been a female drummer in Cuba. Includes note about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl in 1930s Cuba, who became a world-renowned drummer, and Anacaona, the all-girl dance band she formed with her sisters.  The awards committee said that “Rafael López’s masterful art brings to life the drumbeats in Margarita Engle’s story. His dreamy illustrations transport us to Millo’s tropical island,”

For a full list of Pura Belpré Award winning books, check out the full list at the American Library Association’s website!

Announcing The Staunch Book Prize

…How many thrillers can you count that open with the body of a dead woman?  Or thrillers that focus on physical harm or the threat of physical harm being done to a woman?  That feature a woman being stalked or threatened?  If you stop to think about it, the answer might be surprisingly high.

It’s a little disconcerting to think about how many stories rely on violence against women to drive their plot; whether it’s the discovery of a body, or a report of violence that launches a plot (see, for example, Law & Order: SVU).  Or stories that use a character’s history of violence against women to indicate their villainy, or to make them a suspect in a case.  Or are driven by the (often violent or deadly) disappearance of a women years in the past?

It’s even more disconcerting to think about what that means culturally and historically.  I discuss with my students regularly about the implications of incidents like, for example, Jack the Ripper…the subject of goodness knows how many books, television series, shows, movies, radio plays, stage production, etc.  Some are good, some are great, while others are forgettable and regrettable.  But they all hinge on the story of a person (or persons) who murdered women who were economically, socially, and physically incapable of defending themselves.  Those women are only known to history because they were murdered in brutal fashion.  In some cases, the only reason we know what those women look like is from their autopsy photos.  Similarly, in the books we read, we meet so very many women only when, or after, they die.  Only after they are labeled as a victim.  Only after they have suffered.  Only because they have suffered.  And how does it affect the way we look at actual, real, flesh-and-blood women who are hurt, victimized, or used in the way that fictional characters are?

And, what do we do about it?  Is there anything that can be done about it?  Well, last week, writer and educator Bridget Lawless announced The Staunch Book Prize, an award to be presented to “to the author of a novel in the thriller genre in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered.”  According to the Staunch Book Prize website, “As violence against women in fiction reaches a ridiculous high, the Staunch Book Prize invites thriller writers to keep us on the edge of our seats without resorting to the same old clichés – particularly female characters who are sexually assaulted (however ‘necessary to the plot’), or done away with (however ingeniously).”

The award is a part of the #MeToo movement, in which women, men, and people around the world are not only sharing stories of their own sexual victimization, but also championing attempts to change the way the world works, and to ensure a more just, inclusive, and safe society for everyone.  Within this context, the Staunch Prize argues that making women victims, that hurting women as part of a plot, is a cliche that has gone well and truly stale.  As author Andrew Taylor described it in a quote to The Guardian:  “It has to be good in principle that someone’s drawing attention to crime fiction, on page and screen, that uses women-as-victims-of-violence as … a sort of literary monosodium glutamate: ie, as a gratuitous and fundamentally nasty flavour enhancer lacking moral or artistic purpose.”

The announcement of the prize has set off quite a bit of debate, not only among mystery writers, but among activists and readers, as well.  Laura Lippman, a multiple-award winner mystery writer, was quoted by NBCNews as saying “My first reaction was, that’s so well-intentioned and probably impossible.  Because it’s not the topic of sexualized violence that’s the problem. It’s the treatment…There are literally mysteries in which the cat solves the crime, and then there are these incredibly hard-boiled, how high is the body count, how many prostitutes are you going to murder for the sake of the hero’s development mysteries.”

In other words, how we discuss violence against women is important.  Is it possible to use an example of violence against women to comment on, criticize, and actively contest violence against women?  As award-winning author Val McDermid noted to The Guardian, “My take on writing about violence against women is that it’s my anger at that very thing that fires much of my work. As long as men commit appalling acts of misogyny and violence against women, I will write about it so that it does not go unnoticed.”

But some authors feel that this award is a form of censorship, both artistically and socially.  Val McDermid was also quoted in The Guardian piece is saying, “To impose a blanket ban on any writing that deals with this seems to me to be self-defeating.”  But let’s be clear, hear–the award isn’t punishing books that feature women as “beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered.”  Instead, it is awarding books that do not feature these things.  The Man Booker Prize isn’t a punishment for books that are not written in English.  Nor are the National Book Awards a punishment to books not written by Americans.  What it seems to be, most of all, is a challenge: to re-imagine the thriller genre as a place where female characters can exist and develop without victimization.  To think about what such a world might look like.  Because that seems like a concrete first step to changing the power imbalances in real life–to realize how hard it is to imagine a world without those imbalances.

So what do you think, dear readers?  Will the Staunch Book Prize inspire your reader habits?

The Man Booker Prize 2017: Congratulations to George Saunders!

LATE-BREAKING NEWS: George Saunders Wins the 2017 Man Booker Prize for Lincoln in the Bardo! 

 

 

…Because as soon as the announcement is made as to the winner of the 2017 Man Booker Prize, we’ll be relating it here…

Until then, feel free to place your bets on which book will win one of fiction’s most coveted prizes.  Here are the latest quotes from Ladbrokes:

The National Book Award Longlists!

On Friday, the National Book Foundation, in partnership with The New Yorker, announced the Longlist for Fiction for the 2017 National Book Awards, rounding out the Longlists for the four categories celebrated by the Award, among the highest literary awards given in the United States.

The mission of the National Book Foundation and the National Book Awards is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.  Though it’s had it’s ups and downs, trying to find cultural relevancy and “fit in” to American culture, the National Book Award today has emerged as an important way to recognize some of the great work going on in American literature–and a great way for us readers to discover new books!  So here are the longlists for each of the four categories that the National Book Award celebrates.  Come into the Library soon to learn about each of these titles!

The short list will come out on Oct. 4, and the winners will be announced in a ceremony on Nov. 15.  And we’ll be here for both announcements!

Fiction
Elliot Ackerman, Dark at the Crossing
Daniel Alarcón, The King Is Always Above the People: Stories
Charmaine Craig, Miss Burma
Jennifer Egan, Manhattan Beach
Lisa Ko, The Leavers
Min Jin Lee, Pachinko
Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties: Stories
Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, A Kind of Freedom
Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing
Carol Zoref, Barren Island (Check with your friendly Reference Librarians to order this book via ComCat!)

Nonfiction
Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge
Frances FitzGerald, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America
James Forman Jr., Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America
Masha Gessen, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia (Will be released on Oct. 7, 2017)
David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Naomi Klein, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need
Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America
Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
Kevin Young, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News

Poetry
Frank Bidart, Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016
Chen Chen, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (Check with your friendly Reference Librarians to order this book via ComCat!)
Leslie Harrison, The Book of Endings (Check with your friendly Reference Librarians to order this book via WorldCat!)
Marie Howe, Magdalene: Poems (Check with your friendly Reference Librarians to order this book via ComCat!)
Laura Kasischke, Where Now: New and Selected Poems (Check with your friendly Reference Librarians to order this book via ComCat!)
Layli Long Soldier, WHEREAS
Shane McCrae, In the Language of My Captor (Check with your friendly Reference Librarians to order this book via ComCat!)
Sherod Santos, Square Inch Hours (Check with your friendly Reference Librarians to order this book via WorldCat!)
Danez Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems (Check with your friendly Reference Librarians to order this book via ComCat!)
Mai Der Vang, Afterland

Young People’s Literature
Elana K. Arnold, What Girls Are Made Of (Check with your friendly Reference Librarians to order this book via ComCat!)
Robin Benway, Far from the Tree
Samantha Mabry, All the Wind in the World
Mitali Perkins, You Bring the Distant Near
Jason Reynolds, Long Way Down
Erika L. Sánchez, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Check with your friendly Reference Librarians to order this book via ComCat!)
Laurel Snyder, Orphan Island
Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give
Rita Williams-Garcia, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground
Ibi Zoboi, American Street