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April 15, 2014

American Library Association releases its 10 most challenged books of 2013

BraveAs a fresh controversy arises in Delaware over whether parents should censor school reading lists, Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series tops the list of books which received the most complaints.

By Alison Flood.

As debate rages in Delaware over whether parents should be able to screen school reading lists for “obscene content”, the latest list of the books most frequently challenged in US libraries shows it is not only classics that are being challenged.

Books from Fifty Shades of Grey to The Hunger Games have all drawn protests over the last year, with librarians reporting over 300 requests to remove books from shelves or exclude them from school curriculums.

According to local press, a board meeting in the Cape Henlopen school district in Delaware grew heated when two board members started speaking out against Aldous Huxley’s dystopian classic, Brave New World, and calling for parents to be warned before children begin studying it.

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April 9, 2014

Africa And The World Celebrate Wole Soyinka At 80


Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka

Global Literary festivities to mark the eightieth birthday of Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature, Wole Soyinka starts from May 5 2014 at the Sheldonian Theatre, University of Oxford in Britain where the laureate will give the major Annual Lecture of the African Studies Centre titled, Literature, the African Condition and My Life.

It will be chaired by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Andrew Hamilton.

There will also be launch of the UK and North American edition (Ayebia Clarke Publishers) of an anthology, Essays in Honour of Wole Soyinka at 80 edited by Ivor Agyeman-Duah and Ogochukwu Promise with a foreword by the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.

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May 22, 2013

Watch John Green’s commencement speech: ‘Do not worry too much about your lawn’ — VIDEO

The Fault In Our StarsBy Adam Carlson
Author John Green — famous for The Fault In Our Stars and for making you laugh and then cry — has joined David Foster Wallace, Toni Morrison, and many others on the long list of Authors Giving Commencement Speeches with his address to Butler’s graduating class. Like theirs, Green is mostly warning the audience to not grow up and be terrible. It also comes with advice, such as: “Do not worry too much about your lawn.” And: “Keep reading. Specifically, read my books, ideally in hardcover.” The address is heartfelt and conversational, peppered with asides and references to the Internet — just like Green’s novels. Except this time: no deaths!

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May 10, 2013

Can You Guess the Authors by Their Nobel Citations?

Mr. Murakami is not pleased, Swedish Academy.

Mr. Murakami is not pleased, Swedish Academy.

By Gabe Habash

PWxyz doesn’t have time for non-nerdy quizzes; there are too many of those. Instead, here’s one of the more blistering tests this side of the Badwater Ultramarathon–guess the Nobel winner by citation. The format is much like a non-demanding English course–everyone’s favorite: multiple choice! In an attempt to make it less trying, we’ve narrowed down citations and choices to the more household-known Nobel winners.Sorry, 1903 laureate Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, you just missed the cut.

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May 6, 2013

Stop Saying That Men Don’t Read Women

belovedIt holds woman writers back, and it’s just not true.

By Ester Bloom

It has become a truism that “men don’t read women.” The assertion is taken as self-evident by feminist publications like Salon (“while women read books written by men, men do not tend to reciprocate”) and shown anecdotally by blogs. It is also perpetuated by male bastions like Esquire, which recently released a list “of the greatest works of literature ever published” featuring one (1) book by a woman out of a total of 75. (Dudes like stuff that is “plot-driven and exciting, where one thing happens after another,” helpfully explains Esquire’s editor-in-chief, who introduced Fiction for Men e-books to widespread scorn last year.)

To be sure, the inequalities of the literary world are as plain as the nose on Jonathan Franzen’s face, and many writers and readers alike remain outraged about this unbalanced state of affairs. The Women In Literary Arts numbers for 2012 (compiled annually by VIDA) have barely budged from 2010 and 2011—men still dominate the major outlets as tastemakers, reviewers, and authors whose works are deemed worthy of review. The Nation recently published a cri de coeur by novelist Deborah Copaken Kagan lamenting “centuries of literary sexism, exclusion, cultural bias, invisibility. There’s a reason J. K. Rowling’s publishers demanded that she use initials instead of “Joanne”: It’s the same reason Mary Anne Evans used the pen name George Eliot.” And a recent Salon interview with Meg Wolitzer addressing these frustrations is titled “Men won’t read books about women.”

The truth is more complicated. Of course men read books about women and have for centuries—what are Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina if not classic books about women? Those canonical examples are merely a couple of the ones explicitly named for their central character. Nobody picking up those lauded works of fiction could claim to have been misled by the title to think they were reading about Hitler’s Germany, or fishing, or fishing in Hitler’s Germany, or whatever else men are solely supposed to want to read about.

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May 4, 2013

Books I Love: Edith Grossman

Edith Grossman

Edith Grossman

The Ingenious Gentleman and Poet Federico Garcia Lorca Ascends to Hell by Carlos Rojas is the latest book to be translated by Edith Grossman, one of the most renowned translators in the world. And though she’s spent her career translating authors like Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and Cervantes, she shared with Tip Sheet some of her personal favorites.

At first I thought I’d put together a list of ten translated books that have affected me deeply but decided not to when I realized, with some astonishment, that certain English-language books actually did turn my life around, change my thinking, and seriously influence my decision-making. I’m avoiding the issue of the precise number because books often came to my attention in groups rather than as individual volumes.

I had favorite books when I was a girl, especially The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Story of King Arthur, and Little Women, all of which I read over and over again, but the book that made a huge impression on me and invariably brought more tears to my eyes than the heartbreaking death of Robin Hood or the image of King Arthur sailing off to Avalon was Bambi. I read the book countless times and, as a consequence, developed a deep dislike of hunting, which I found incomprehensible. The effect has lasted to this day.

The other book that had a major impact on me a few years later, when I was about twelve and read it against my parents’ wishes and behind their backs, was The Naked and the Dead. Because I was so young I couldn’t comprehend all of the novel, but what I took away with me was an on-going commitment to pacifism. This came as a surprise: I grew up during the Second World War, and my mind was filled with a comic book version of villainy and virtue, a movie image of heroism. After reading the novel, I couldn’t imagine any cause that could justify subjecting vulnerable human beings to the kind of suffering and brutality depicted by Mailer. I still can’t.

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March 26, 2013

Tracy Chevalier: A Page in the Life

The Last RunawayTracy Chevalier tells Helen Brown about new book, The Last Runaway, and her heroine’s passion for rescuing slaves – and sewing.

Tracy Chevalier keeps a cracked, childhood bowl in her cupboard. “Nobody can eat from it,” she says, “except me and my sister. She knows where it is. But I don’t let my husband and son touch it because I know it’s gonna break some day and I don’t want one of them to be the one to break it because they’d feel terrible.” Grey on the outside, yellow inside, the precious bowl inspired a bonnet given to the English, Quaker heroine of her seventh novel when the girl arrives in Ohio in the mid-1850s. “The grey,” says Chevalier, “is dutiful and solid and then the yellow is for stepping forward and doing the right thing.”

The right thing is helping slaves fleeing the antebellum South to find freedom in Canada. Although there was no slavery in Ohio, the Fugitive Slave Act punished any accomplice by exorbitant fines and confiscation of property. And as young Honor Bright discovers when she reaches the Quaker settlement where she’s promised to keep her sparkier sister company, members of this struggling pioneer community do not want to get involved. These weather-beaten farmers have larders to fill for the long, barren winters. And the violent local slave-hunter is always on the prowl. They would prefer Honor to keep her head bowed over her exquisite quilting, and ignore the sounds of people cowering in the woods.

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March 10, 2013

10 Books That Rewrite History

14035-v2-215xBy Peter Dimock

Peter Dimock’s George Anderson: Notes for a Love Song in Imperial Time defies simple description. It is a novel where history meets method, and where narrative approaches madness. It’s also a treasure trove of poetic prose that rewards careful attention. We asked Dimock, whose own novel challenges what we think we know as “history,” to pick 10 books that do the same. These are the books to read when you want to jolt yourself out of your shell.

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December 13, 2012

Oprah Picks Ayana Mathis

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 11:02 am

The Twelve Tribes of HattieThis past June, Oprah selected Cheryl Strayed’s Wild for her first Book Club 2.0 book. Her next pick is The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis (Knopf). Said Winfrey: “The opening pages of Ayana’s debut took my breath away. I can’t remember when I read anything that moved me in quite this way, besides the work of Toni Morrison.”

In PW‘s starred review of the novel, we said: “Mathis weaves this story with confidence, proving herself a gifted and powerful writer.” The book traces the life of Hattie Shepherd through the eyes of her offspring, depicting a family whose members are distant, fiercely proud, and desperate for connection with their mother.

Wild has sold 188,000 of its 242,000 copies since Oprah selected it according to Nielsen BookScan.

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November 7, 2012

US election 2012: Obama vs Romney, battle of the books

For Barack Obama it’s Toni Morrison, for Mitt Romney L Ron Hubbard. As the US election comes to a nail-biting finish we compare the candidates’ favourite authors.

By Sameer Rahim and Felicity Capon

Barack Obama

Barack Obama is the author of an acclaimed memoir Dreams From My Father, a book that had him compared to James Baldwin. (His wife Michelle’s debut publication, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, has had less exalted praise.) His taste in fiction emerges from the Walt Whitman school of nature-loving, lyrical radicalism.

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