Jonathan Rowe speaks on his 'thriller'

In case you missed local novelist and attorney Jonathan Rowe's talk at the library's 'Sunday Edition' program in January you can view his talk this week on local Community Access Cable Channel 17. Rowe discusses his Ann Arbor-based thriller A Question Of Identity, which recounts the tale of an overeducated, underachieving tabloid reporter on the trail of a fugitive 1960's radical. The program is also availabe from the library on DVD. The Cable TV broadcasts can be viewed on Tuesday, May 2 at 3:40 p.m.; Thursday, May 4 at 1:30 p.m.; Friday May 5 at 5:00 p.m.

Literary prize updates

Literary prizes are popping up this spring faster than the season's tulips.

The James Tait Black Memorial Prizes, awarded by Scotland's University of Edinburgh, has shortlisted Ian McEwan (Saturday), Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go), Joyce Carol Oates (Missing Mom), Andre Brink (Praying Mantis -- not yet available in the US), and Ali Smith (Accidental) for their 2005 awards in Biography and Fiction. The prizes, the UK's oldest literary awards, will be announced in June of this year.


The Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award, given to a young novelist of attention-getting talent, has been awarded to a Michigan author.

Nick Arvin received the $5000 for his debut novel, Articles of War. Arvin graduated in 1991 from Clio High School. Clio is northeast of Flint.

Death claims two noted authors

galbraith toer

Noted authors John Kenneth Galbraith and Pramoedya Ananta Toer, have died.

Galbraith, 97, gave economic advice to four Democratic presidents (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson), cautioning against the run-away power of giant corporations. And still he found time to pen an extraordinarily rich body of work, including The Affluent Society (1958) and The Good Society (1996). Galbraith died Saturday, April 29.


Pramoedya Ananta Toer, whose quartet of powerful novels about Indonesia's struggle for independence captured the literary world, died April 30 at the age of 81.

His Buru Quartet, This Earth of Mankind, Child of all Nations, Footsteps, and House of Glass were banned in his own country. Toer knew of what he wrote. He was arrested in 1965 and jailed for 14 years with no charges, and then placed under house arrest until 1992.

Michigan Notable Books, 2006

Michigan Notable Books, 2006

The Library of Michigan announced its list of 20 Michigan Notable Books. To be considered for this distinguished list Michigan must be "...the inspiration, the setting or the source..."

This year's list includes:

Youth novel Harry Sue, by Sue Stauffacher; The Summer He Didn't Die, by long-time great Michigan storyteller, Jim Harrison; Ann Arbor author Steve Amick's The Lake, the River, and the Other Lake; and Paul Clemens' outstanding Made in Detroit: A South of 8 Mile Memoir.

For the full list, go to the Library of Michigan website.

2006 Pulitzer Winners

Pulitzer Winners, 2006

Columbia University announced the winners of the 2006 Pulitzer Prizes on April 17, 2006.

Winners in the Letters & Drama categories are:

Geraldine Brooks, for March

David Oshinsky for Polio: An American Story

Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin for American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Claudia Emerson for Late Wife

General Non-Fiction
Caroline Elkins for Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya

For a complete list of categories and winners, go to the Pulitzer website.

Fingersmith - A Victorian Thriller

BBC feature film Fingersmith, based on the novel (short listed for the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize in 2002) by Sarah Waters, is a Victorian thriller not to be missed.

The paths of Maud, a wealthy heiress and that of Susan, an orphan raised in a den of petty thieves (or fingersmiths) collide with devastating consequences and yet, a deep connection is forged that spell their redemption.
Beautiful period costumes, moody cinematography, and knock-your-socks-off plot twists made for 180 minutes of sensual viewing pleasure.

Check out Waters’ other titles Tipping the Velvet (in DVD); and her latest - The Night Watch.

In 2003, Granta magazine named Sarah one of 20 Best Young British Novelists.

Invisible Children

Lost Boys

Last Saturday night, some 600 area students were inspired by a film-in-the-making to stage a sleep-in outside Ann Arbor's city hall. The film is about the plight of children abducted, brainwashed and trained to fight in Uganda's 18-year-old civil war. University students organized the screenings and local sleep-ins as part of a "Global Night Commute". Until the film (currently in rough cut) makes its way into the AADL collection, you may want to check out the similarly themed Lost Boys of Sudan, last year's award-winning documentary about two orphaned Sudanese refugees from yet another devastating African civil war. This title, along with several other powerful films, is available at AADL through the Human Rights Video Project. Teachers, students and other local groups may arrange to borrow any of the titles on this list for a public screening. Check out a complete listing of titles and summaries.

Didn't know much about mythology...and so much more...

When I picked up Kenneth C. Davis's Don't Know Much About Mythology, I was expecting a humorous and informative read answering some of my questions about mythology and religion, such as whether Nirvana is a Hindu or Buddhist concept (there's a good reason for my confusion) or what people used to do on Christmas before the common era (think much less gift-giving and many more spiked drinks). What I wasn't expecting was the deluge of information Davis packs into these 400 or so pages, such as when the oldest civilizations began, which of them started writing first, why Tara is the perfect name for Scarlet O'Hara's homestead in Gone with the Wind (see p. 289), why Ganesh is a great choice for Apu's favorite god in The Simpsons, or how much the early books of the Bible were influenced by Mesopatamian myths.

How Opal Mehta plagiarism charge rocks the publishing world

Harvard sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan plunged from literary phenom to disgraced plagiarist when it was discovered that her brand new chick lit title, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, included healthy doses of passages from two of Megan McCafferty's titles, Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings.

Viswanathan's publisher, Little, Brown, announced April 27 that it would pull all unsold copies of Opal Mehta from all retail outlets. In true American style, this news instantly sent the price of Opal soaring on eBay ("buy now for $99.99").

Viswanathan insists that the borrowing was unintentional -- she's a big fan of McCafferty's writing and said she's read the two titles in question many times.

Good news for Ms. McCafferty -- she's getting a good bounce for the two books in the spotlight, which may carry over to her latest entry, Charmed Thirds.

Celebrating Families Built Through Adoption

Recent news of celebrities building their families through adoption is raising the public's awareness of the joys and heartaches that come with the adoption process. The library has many materials for those interested in learning more about adoption.

The Waiting Child, by Cindy Champnella, tells the true story of a little girl, whom the Champnella family adopted from China, and her persistence in finding a mama for a little boy she left behind. On Saturday, May 6th, 2006, Cindy Champnella will be in Ann Arbor to speak about her family's inspirational story.

Other recent books about adoption include:
Two Little Girls: A Memoir of Adoption
Weaving a Family: Untangling Race and Adoption
A Love Like No Other: Stories from Adoptive Parents
Complete Adoption and Fertility Legal Guide

Two recommended films about adoption include:
Secrets and Lies and My Flesh and Blood

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