Author Birthdays: Turgenev, Sexton, Kertész

November 9th marks the birthday of authors Ivan Turgenev, Anne Sexton, and Imre Kertész.

Ivan Turgenev was a Russian writer best known for his works Fathers and Sons and A Sportsman's Sketches (also known as Sketches from a Hunter's Album or Notes of a Hunter). Though he was more a contemporary of Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, he was perhaps closer to the French writer Gustave Flaubert.

In Russia, Turgenev's most read work was probably Home of the Gentry, which was about the desire of Russians to turn away from European ideals. Among his other works are First Love and The Diary of a Superfluous Man. We also have some of his novels in their native Russian.

Anne Sexton was an American poet who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for her collection called Live or Die. Her work is mostly categorized as "confessional"; major themes include guilt, motherhood, sexuality, and mental illness.

Sexton was more widely read due to her later works like Transformations, which is a sort of retelling of Grimm fairy tales. Another later work is The Book of Folly, a dark collection of poems centered around alienation and death.

Imre Kertész is a Jewish-Hungarian author, survivor of Auschwitz, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is best known for his somewhat autobiographical work Fatelessness, the story of a young man who is sent to Auschwitz, which he later wrote a Hungarian film script for.

Among Kertész's other works are Liquidation, the story of a man who commits suicide after surviving both Auschwitz and Communist Hungary, and The Pathseeker, which Publishers Weekly called "a taut, grim allegory of man in the face of oppression".

Tutoring at Washtenaw Literacy


Washtenaw Literacy's summer training for one on one and group volunteer tutors is coming up! There are four one-hour informational sessions, The ABC's of Washtenaw Literacy, before the training begins. At these sessions, you can learn about the training, the rewards of tutoring, and the commitment involved. They are at 7pm on August 23, September 16 and 20 at Nicola's Books or September 7 at the Ypsilanti District Library. Call 734-879-1320 to confirm your attendance. Bring a friend!

The Baader Meinhof Complex

Covering the early days of the German Red Army Faction (RAF / Rote Armee Fraktion), The Baader Meinhof Complex (also in blu-ray) follows the militant group from student protest days onward to the German Autumn. The movie follows the leaders of the group and while criticized for being centered around them, shows the violence of the group and that period. Trailer is below.

A similar militant group in America, the Weathermen, was also active around the same time. The documentary The Weather Underground follows the the US-based militant group including their bombing of the US capitol.

Language Learning Collection

Language LearningLanguage Learning

Whether you are starting to learn another language, brushing up on one, or need some help with your English, the Ann Arbor District Library’s Language Learning collection is here to help. With materials for adults and children and over 60 languages to choose from, you will be sure to find a variety of materials to assist in your learning experience. The adult Language Learning collection at Downtown is located on the 3rd floor while the youth materials are in the Youth department, 1st floor; at other branches the Language Learning collection is located within the non-fiction 400 call # range. See below for how to search in the catalog for this collection.

AADL Screencast: Browsing World Languages

If you are interested in reading books in languages other than English, check out the Ann Arbor District Library’s World Language collection. There are books for adults and children at all branch locations with a Teen World Language collection available at the Downtown Library. Currently there are 24 languages represented from A to V (Arabic to Vietnamese) with the most recent additions in the Greek, Persian/Farsi, and Polish languages. There are fiction and non-fiction books, and even some graphic novels in various languages. If you are at our Downtown Library, the collection for adults is located on the 3rd floor, with youth and teen on the 1st floor. Below you will find a short video that explains how to locate these books in our catalog.

Language Learning Gold Mine!

It's a real bummer that Rosetta Stone pulled out of public libraries. But guess what I just learned? The language courses offered by the Foreign Service Institute are available online, and for free! These are the courses used by diplomats and other governmental personnel, so they are rigorous and of a high caliber (although pretty traditional in terms of presentation). 41 world languages are represented, with text and audio and "ridiculously extensive" resources.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the FSI website became overloaded with excited language learners trying to download tons of stuff. Understandably, they are now experiencing technical difficulties. (I suppose we should see the popularity of these materials as good news, as well.) Said technical difficulties will hopefully be resolved soon, so stay tuned to FSI's site for more information.

From Russia with Love...

Max is a loser. He sleeps all day and stays up all night. But, his life has changed. In Max's dreams, he travels to the city of Echo, where he is recruited to join the Minor Secret Investigative Force. Now you can join Max in his supernatural investigations of midget murders and other strange things. Originally written in Russian, The Stranger has been translated to English by Polly Gannon. There are seven more books in the series, all in Russian, which have not been translated yet.

Italian Holiday?

Ever dream of going to Italy? Can't afford it? Using the library is a great alternative!

First, you can experience the sights through art books in our collection. The works of greats such as Botticelli, Bernini, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio will transport you into the culture of Italy. However, if you wanted something a little closer to the real experience, you could try this book of paintings within the Uffizi. It's basically a tour in itself!

If you want to feel like you're actually walking the streets of Italy, try a book on the architecture of Brunelleschi, the famous creator of Florence's Il Duomo, or maybe something a little broader.

Perhaps you're anxious to taste some real Italian food? Unfortunately, you'll have to cook it yourself. But books on Italian Cooking will be able to make that a bit easier for you.

In order to hear Italy, you can try your hand at speaking it yourself. With our fantastic Italian language-learning collection, you'll be able to go from a beginner's lesson, to something more advanced. Although, if you tired yourself out with all that cooking, you might just like to listen to some opera.

If you're really into this whole plan, maybe you want to get some more background? There are tons of Italian history books. There are also biographies on key figures, such as Caesar, Lucrezia Borgia, Savonarola, Garibaldi, Mussolini, and the well-known Medici family.

Maybe all of these books are too much for you, and you really need a break? Well, luckily, AADL also carries movies. Something lighthearted, like Roman Holiday might help you through your journey. Or, if you'd like something a little more thrilling, perhaps The Talented Mr. Ripley? We even have films in Italian, like La Dolce Vita!

It may not be exactly the same as climbing the Spanish Steps, but it's as close as you can get without actually going! But, if you ever decide to go, don't forget your travel book.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #185 - Reading the World

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Of the 33 first novels nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (see blog), some have already won major awards, some have been blogged, some became media darlings, some bewitched us, and some chilled and thrilled us.

Here are a few that would challenge us, move us and perhaps even grow us a little:

A Girl Made of Dust is written by a woman who experienced firsthand the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the 1980s. It captures both a country and a childhood plagued by a conflict that even at its darkest and most threatening, carries the promise of healing and retribution.

The White King by György Dragomán (translated from the Hungarian by Paul Olchváry). Eleven-year-old Djata's life in the totalitarian state is changed forever when two men lead his father away one day. However brutal, Djata's world is tempered by the hilarious absurdity of the situations, by his enduring faith in his father's return, and by moments of unexpected beauty, hope, and kindness. Startling and heartbreaking, recommended for fans of Mark Haddon, David Mitchell, and Marjane Satrapi.

How the Soldier Repairs the Gramaphone by Saša Stanišić ( translated from the German by Anthea Bell). Fleeing the violence and destruction of his native Bosnia with his family for safety in Germany, Aleksandar Krsmanoviæ remains haunted by the past and his memories of Asija, the mysterious girl he had tried to save and whose fate he is desperate to discover.

A first-time novelist at 76, Bernard du Boucheron caused a literary sensation in France with The Voyage of the Short Serpent, - a tale (translated from the French by Hester Velmans) of a bishop's attempted reclamation of a medieval Scandinavian colony in Iceland. The bishop sets off in the company of the captain and crew of the Short Serpent.

What to read?


On November 2, the longlist was announced for the 2010 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award - the largest prize worldwide for a single work of fiction published in English.

The prize is open to novels written in any language and by authors of any nationality, provided the work has been published in English or as an English translation. The annual award is €100,000 and is administered by Dublin City Public Libraries. The titles are nominated by 163 libraries in 43 different countries.

The list includes 156 authors from 46 countries, written in 18 languages. 41 are translated from languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Icelandic, Serbian and Slovenian. 33 are first novels (Look for more FFF to come).

Among the nominated is the winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize - (The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga); the winner of the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Prize - (The Slap by Christos Tsiolka); the winner of the 2009 Orange Prize - (Home by Marilynne Robinson); and the winner of the 2009 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize - (The Armies by Evelio Rosero).

Dublin City Council will announce the shortlist on 14th April 2010. The Lord Mayor will reveal the winning novel on 17th June 2010.

Want to share your shortlist with us?

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