GOOD BOOKS

Tangled up in books

Fall literary awards offer something of quality for every reader

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Bob Dylan, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, was honored for his “poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
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By KATHY DES JARDINS CIOFFI
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The second annual Milton Literary Festival Nov. 11-12 promises a bounty of book-related activities for readers, writers and residents looking to interact with their favorite local and regional authors.

Building on its inaugural year, the 2016 event will feature 40 participants – from award-winning writers and illustrators to an Athens-based publisher – celebrating the written and spoken word in a range of forums.

Readings, book signings, panel discussions and workshops will join a wine tasting, lunch with chefs and a wrap-up at an Irish pub, treating book lovers to a host of new offerings, including an art exhibit and a full day of children’s activities.

Wayne Boston, Milton’s community builder and one of the festival’s organizers, planned this year’s schedule with the help of a committee that included local authors Kimberly Brock and Rona Simmons, who led the effort to secure participants.

Boston said the goal of the ongoing event is to “bring well-known, Georgia area authors to Milton to interact with the reading public through panel discussions, workshops and other learning opportunities.”

This year’s festivities will kick off Nov. 11 at Wilbur & Rudy’s Farmtable, 850 Hickory Flat Road, with readings, a wine tasting and appearances by Ellen Malphrus and Cassandra King, the festival’s honorary guest author and widow of the best-selling novelist Pat Conroy.

Saturday, Nov. 12, will feature a full day of panel discussions, workshops and children’s events – all free. Keynote speaker Lynn Cullen will be followed by authors discussing nonfiction, writing for teens, fiction, suspense, writing for children, poetry and memoir writing. A publishing workshop, “It’s Up to You: Traditional vs DIY,” is also scheduled. All panel discussions and workshops will be held at the Crabapple Government Center, 12624 Broadwell Road, Alpharetta.

“Plus, this year we are involving the Milton Library in many of our activities with a particular focus on children and young readers,” Boston said. Children’s events will be held throughout the day and will include readings, face painting and opportunities to read to a CAREing Paws therapy dog.

“Something very new is the Book Trail we are building outside behind the library,” Boston said. “It will be a walking tour for children featuring pages from the book ‘Because of an Acorn’ by Lola Schaefer. Plans are for this to be a permanent feature in our community.”

Also new to the festival lineup this year will be a one-day venue for emerging artists and an exhibition of fine arts. Planned in partnership with Alpha Arts Guild, Boston said, “We hope to expand this aspect of our festival in future years.”

At 3 p.m., the festival’s focus will shift to a retro-themed book club “hookup” hosted by six featured authors: Kimberly Belle, Amber Brock, Kimberly Brock, Valerie Joan Connors, Colleen Oakley and George Weinstein. Entertainment will be provided by music and cast members from “Ruby and the Bookmarks,” an original work by local playwright Bill Purdie.

Activities will conclude with Bourbon & Bards, an open mic poetry reading and closing “mingle” from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on the patio of Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub, 12650 Crabapple Road.

For a full list of participants as well as the festival’s schedule and registration information, go to miltonliteraryfestival.com

Autumn is a delightful season for book lovers. Not only do author-based events abound, including the upcoming Milton Literary Festival (see related story on page 15), fall is also when winners of some of the literary world’s most prestigious prizes are announced.

The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded in October, the National Book Awards will be announced Nov. 16, and the Man Booker Prize was bestowed late in October.

In addition to top-place finishers, titles shortlisted for each of these awards offer options galore for book clubs planning the literary year ahead as well as readers just looking to curl up with a good book on a cool autumn day.

Nobel Prize in Literature
This year’s surprise winner, Bob Dylan, was selected “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” He is the first American to win the prize in over two decades, since Toni Morrison in 1993.
While readers may not have a body of written work of Dylan’s from which to pick and choose, that’s not to say this year’s Nobel Laureate can only be appreciated by dragging out old albums. “Chronicles: Volume One,” the first of what Dylan has said will be a three-volume memoir, touches on various points in his half-century-plus career.

The Swedish Academy, the committee that decides the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, did not announce a shortlist of nominees, but that didn’t stop speculation among the literary public as well as a British-based gambling site prior to the prize’s announcement in October.

Some of the authors mentioned as possible Nobel contenders included American writers Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth and Don DeLillo, Syrian-born poet Adonis, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Albanian novelist Ismail Kadare and Spanish novelist Javier Marías. Prolific authors all, many have recent titles from which to choose.

National Book Awards
For more than 60 years, the mission of the National Book Foundation and the National Book Awards has been to “celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.”

In 2016, they aim to accomplish just that by selecting from the following list of
National Book Awards finalists for fiction:
Chris Bachelder, “The Throwback Special.” Bachelder’s fourth novel concerns a group of middle-aged men who reunite each year to re-enact one of football’s most gruesome plays, when Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor ended Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann’s career with a leg-shattering sack.
Paulette Jiles, “News of the World.” In Jiles’ latest work, an elderly war veteran in 1870s Texas is offered a $50 gold piece to return a 10-year-old captive of the Kiowa Indians back to her relatives in San Antonio.
Karan Mahajan, “The Association of Small Bombs.” Mahajan’s second novel deals with the aftermath of a terrorist bombing in Delhi and its effects on the families of two young boys who were killed.
Colson Whitehead, “The Underground Railroad.” This time-hopping novel tells the story of two slaves who make a bid for freedom from their Georgia plantations by following the Underground Railroad, which Whitehead imagines as a literal mode of transportation.
Jacqueline Woodsen, “Another Brooklyn.” A celebrated writer of children’s books, Woodsen’s first novel for adults in 20 years features an anthropologist returning home for her father’s funeral and encountering a long-ago friend who sets tragic memories from the 1970s in motion.

National Book Awards are also given in three additional categories: nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature. Titles shortlisted in those categories include:
Nonfiction
Arlie Russell Hochschild, “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right”
Ibram X. Kendi, “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America”
Viet Thanh Nguyen, “Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War”
Andrés Reséndez, “The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America”
Heather Ann Thompson, “Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy”
Poetry
Daniel Borzutzky, “The Performance of Becoming Human”
Rita Dove, “Collected Poems 1974 – 2004”
Peter Gizzi, “Archeophonics”
Jay Hopler, “The Abridged History of Rainfall”
Solmaz Sharif, “Look”

Young People’s Literature
Kate DiCamillo, “Raymie Nightingale”
John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell, “March: Book Three”
Grace Lin, “When the Sea Turned to Silver”
Jason Reynolds, “Ghost”
Nicola Yoon, “The Sun Is Also a Star”

Additionally, the National Book Foundation also presents annual honors to five promising debut fiction writers under the age of 35. This year’s honorees are:
Brit Bennett, “The Mothers”
Yaa Gyasi, “Homegoing”
Greg Jackson, “Prodigals”
S. Li, “Transoceanic Lights”
Thomas Pierce, “Hall of Small Mammals”

Man Booker Prize

Since 1969, the Man Booker Prize has been awarded to the best original full-length novel written in the English language.

Originally limited to writers from Britain, Ireland, the Commonwealth and Zimbabwe, the Man Booker Prize changed its rules in 2014 to include submissions from any author whose work was published in Britain and was first written in English.

The 2016 shortlist for the Man Booker Prize, awarded after our deadline, included:
Paul Beatty (US), “The Sellout”
Deborah Levy (UK), “Hot Milk”
Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK), “His Bloody Project”
Ottessa Moshfegh (US) “Eileen”
David Szalay (Canada-UK), “All That Man Is”
Madeleine Thien (Canada), “Do Not Say We Have Nothing”

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