Mo Yan wins the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature

Chinese novelist, Mo Yan, has a huge new addition to his growing collection of impressive awards. The Nobel Foundation announced in Sweden this morning that Mo Yan is the recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature.

In bestowing the honor on one of China's most prominent authors, the Swedish Academy said this: "...[Mo Yan], with hallucinatory realism, merges folk tales, history and the contemporary".

Born in 1955, Mo Yan (which means 'Don't Speak") has an international reputation for his brilliant provocative writings. His 1987 novel, Red Sorghum: A Novel of China, which was translated into English in 1993, is set in the 1930s when Chinese peasants not only fought the Japanese invaders, but they battled each other as well. His movie treatment of this novel resulted in several impressive international awards.

The Garlic Ballads, written in 1988, translated to English in 1995, resulted in being censured by the People's Republic of China for taking the Communist party to task for its cruel corruption.

The New York Times particularly liked his Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out, which appeared in the U.S. in 2006. It called this novel of magic realism "...harsh and gritty, raunchy and funny."

Mo Yan receives £741,000 along with his medal.

October's Books to Film

The Paperboy is based on Peter Dexter's novel, the enthralling story of two brothers (Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron) who investigate a case involving a death row inmate (John Cusack). Convinced by a mysterious woman (Nicole Kidman) that the inmate is innocent, the brothers embark on a journey that is filled with betrayal.

Pitch Perfect (PG-13) is based on Mickey Rapkin's Pitch Perfect:The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory. In this new comedy, Beca arrives at her new college, she finds herself not right for any clique but somehow is muscled into one that she never would have picked on her own: alongside mean girls, sweet girls and weird girls whose only thing in common is how good they sound when they sing together. "Loaded with new takes on old favorites to hits of right now that are seamlessly mixed together, mashed-up and arranged like you've never heard before" .

Starring Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Alexis Knapp, Elizabeth Banks, Rebel Wilson, and directed by Jason Moore of the Broadway sensation Avenue Q, the musical.

Putting a new spin on the Emily Brontë classic, Wuthering Heights is the love story between Heathcliff, a boy taken in by a kind father and Cathy, the farmer's young daughter. This film adaptation promises to be beautiful and evocative, bringing a somewhat more modern take on an old favorite.

Fans of James Patterson's Alex Cross series will be pleased to see the young homicide detective/psychologist (Tyler Perry) coming to life and facing off with a serial killer (Matthew Fox). When the high-stakes game of cat and mouse gets personal, Cross is pushed to the edge of his moral and psychological limits in this taut and exciting action thriller, entitled Alex Cross (PG-13).

Filled with action, romance and mystery, Cloud Atlas (R rated) is a breathtaking adaptation of the novel (also in audio) by David Mitchell - six interwoven stories that leads up to a post-apocalyptic dystopian version of a Pacific Island nation. It explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future, how one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future.

Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant.

Alex Karras, former Detroit Lions defensive tackle, and Hollywood actor, has died

Alex Karras, a Detroit Lion for twelve seasons and an actor for many years, died today in Los Angeles.

In 1958, Karras was a first round draft pick for the Lions. He was a member of the Lions' Fearsome Foursome (a term used in pro football to describe the frontline defense. The other Lions players were Roger Brown, Darris McCord, and Sam Williams. Karras was suspended in 1963 for one year when he was caught placing bets on NFL teams. He returned to the team in 1964 and played for seven more years.

In the mid-1970s, he called the plays, with Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell, on ABC's Monday Night Football.

His most memorable Hollywood role was in the the 1974 hit western satire, Blazing Saddles in which he played the Mondo.

He and his real-life wife, Susan Clark, who survives, starred in the TV sitcom, Webster (1983-1987) (the first season is on order), along with Emmanuel Lewis. Karras and Clark played the adoptive parents of the orphaned son of a pro football player.

Karras, who was 77, died from complications due to cancer and dementia.

Ann Arbor Korean Independent Film Festival Screening: Leafie, A Hen Into The Wild

Friday October 5, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

The Nam Center and the U-M Screen Arts and Cultures Department, in association with the Museum of Modern Art and The Korea Society, presents the Ann Arbor Korean Independent Film Festival October 4 - 7. While many of the films will be screened on the UM Campus, this 2011 delightful animated film: Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild, (which made box office history by drawing the largest audience for a home-grown animated film in South Korea) will be screened at AADL.

Based on a popular children's book, the film (which is not rated) is the story of freedom, will and instinctive motherly love of a hen as she raises an adopted duckling.

Teen Books to Films

On November 16, 2012 Lionsgate will release the final chapter of the Cullen legacy to theaters with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, where Bella and Edward prepare for battle against the Volturi in order to protect their family. Fans have the next month to revisit their favorite vampire drama in The Twilight Series, including Breaking Dawn the book, as well as Breaking Dawn Part 1 on DVD and Blu-Ray, all of which are available in the AADL collection.

Another smashingly successful teen book that's getting the Hollywood treatment is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which is currently being filmed in Hawaii. In this sequel, sharpshooting Katniss once again takes on the oppressive Capitol District, this time with a rebellion brewing around her. Fans have a bit more time to catch up on the action with the book versions of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, as well as the film version of The Hunger Games on DVD and Blu-Ray, for the film sequel isn't expected for release until November 2013. The third book in the trilogy, Mockingjay, now has a confirmed screenwriter, Danny Strong, who will be adapting the book into a Part 1 and a Part 2 to finish the film series.

Game + Watch: Robot Rumble

Sunday September 30, 2012: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Ready for an afternoon playing video games while watching a movie and eating popcorn? This month's movie might be about robots that rumble and then make up. Buy 'n large, it's going to be loads of fun!

Can you guess what we'll be watching? Prizes for gameplay and the best theme-related costume!

This event is for grade 4 - adult.

Hollywood shocked by actor Johnny Lewis's violent death

Johnny Lewis, best known for his role as Kip "Half-Sack" Epps in the first two seasons of Sons of Anarchy, the FX Network motorcycle series that premiered in 2008, died last night at the scene of a shocking crime in Los Feliz, CA.

A spokesman for the LAPD said it appears that Lewis murdered his landlady, Katherine Davis, 81, and her cat on Wednesday. Witnesses say he then attacked a couple of neighbors before heading back to the house and jumping or falling off the roof, landing in her driveway which killed him.

Those close to Lewis, who once dated Katy Perry, were not surprised by his violent end. He had been released from jail six days ago, after pleading no contest in August to burglary and assault with a deadly weapon.

The troubled actor, who also acted in several TV series, including Criminal Minds and The O.C., was 28.

Film: Guilty Pleasures

Thursday September 27, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Julie Moggan's delightful 2010 documentary takes an amusing and touching look at the global phenomenon of romance novel popularity. Guilty Pleasures portrays five romance devotees who must, ultimately, find their dreams in the real world.

Guilty Pleasures is a delightful and touching discovery of the depths of human emotion in what may at first seem the cultural shallows. This event is a collaboration with POV, PBS' award-winning nonfiction film series.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #357

Brooklyn bookseller and author of a short-story collection (Other People We Married, 2011) Emma Straub gives us an enchanting story of a Midwestern girl who escapes a family tragedy and is remade as a movie star during Hollywood's golden age in Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures * *, her debut novel.

At 17, Elsa Emerson, born to an amateur theatrical family in Door County, Wisconsin hops gamely on the bus that carries her and her young actor husband to Hollywood after a family tragedy. Two quick successive babies and a dissolving marriage later, she is discovered by one of the most powerful studio executives in Hollywood, who refashions her as a serious, exotic brunette and renames her Laura Lamont. Along with all the glamor and extravagance of stardom, Laura finds herself trying to balance career, family, friendship, personal happiness, while remaining true to herself.

"Straub offers a charming tale spanning 50 years. Her strength is an ability to foster originality by turning her back on the stereotyped assumptions of the lives of movie stars whose backstories feed the magic."

"Written in a removed prose, Straub brings Elsa to life with the detached analysis of an actor examining a character, exemplifying Elsa's own remote relationship to her identity. Through marriages, births, deaths, and career upheavals, Elsa and Laura coexist, sometimes uneasily—until Elsa learns to reconcile her two selves. An engaging epic of a life that captures the bittersweetness of growing up, leaving home, and finding it again."

For novels about the entertainment industry and lives and loves of the glitterati, you might enjoy Third Girl From the Left by Martha Southgate (2005); Tilly Bagshawe's Adored (2005); Glen David Gold's Sunnyside (2009) about Charlie Chaplin; and The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty (2012).

* *= Starred reviews

We Bought A Zoo, on DVD

A comedy-drama, We Bought A Zoo is a true story based on Benjamin Mee’s 2008 memoir of the same name. In the film, Matt Damon portrays Mee, who has recently lost his wife, and is struggling with moving on, as well as helping his two children cope with the loss of their mother. Set in Southern California, the adventurous Mee decides the family is in need of a change and buys a house in the country that also happens to be a no-longer-running zoo. A stipulation of buying the house is getting the zoo back up and running, which means Mee has to learn how to run a zoo and care for animals, which leaves for some definite animal-human hijinx as he learns the tricks of the trade.

Mee’s young daughter is more than thrilled at living at a zoo, but his teenage son is not. Mee works them through it and also deals with the zoo’s staff that comes along with the property, including the head zoo keeper played by head-turner Scarlett Johansson. While adjusting to all the changes, everyone’s goal is to get the zoo back in order and ready for inspection in order to open for the summer season.

It’s a feel good film, and a great one for the family. It definitely pulled at my heart strings. One thing I took away from the film is Mee’s idea of 20 seconds of insane courage. If you give yourself just 20 seconds to be courageous, think of what you could do. I mean, why not?

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