Ages 18+.

2007 Orange Prize for Fiction - Shortlist

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Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, the UK’s only annual book award for fiction written by a woman, announces the 2007 shortlist

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk (A perosnal favorite)

The Booker Prize winner The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo.

The Observations by Jane Harris

Digging to America by Anne Tyler

This year’s shortlist honors both new and well-established writers and reflects the international reach of the prize with authors from Nigeria, China, India and America represented. Your vote?

Workshop on using Genealogy Software

FamilyFamily

The Genealogical Society of Washtenaw County is offering a 2-part workshop on Sunday, April 22 on choosing and utilizing genealogy software to document and create your family history. A number of software packages will be profiled (including 'The Family Tree Maker', 'GenBox', 'Legacy', 'The Master Genealogist' and 'Reunion'). Attendees will be able to try out the programs and obtain assistance from Society members. The workshop is free to anyone interested. It will be held at the Education Center Auditorium, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Campus, 5305 Elliott Drive, at 1:30 p.m.

New Fiction on the New York Times Best Sellers List (4/15/07)

The allure and mystery of Shakespeare. The world's most famous playwright. THE genius of Western literature. And we know almost nothing about him. A few years ago Stephen Greenblatt wrote a speculative biography Will in the World, lively and informed by years of scholarship. Now Michael Gruber has written a fantastic thriller about a lost, unknown Shakespeare play. Critics have lobbed a few beanballs at The Book of Air and Shadows but many readers are loving it. It enters the List tied for #15 this week.

The four other new entries are all thrillers, too (Obssesion by Jonathan Kellerman, The Alibi Man by Tami Hoag, Absolute Fear by Lisa Jackson, and Hunter's Moon by Randy Wayne White)

2007 Pulitzer Prizes announced

2007 Pulitzer Prizes announced2007 Pulitzer Prizes announced

The much-coveted Pulitzer Prizes for 2007 were announced Monday, April 16, 2007.

Among the winners in more than a dozen categories are:

Fiction
Cormac McCarthy for The Road, his dark post-apocalyptic vision of a world gone mad, as a man and his young son journey to the sea, with only their wits, two bullets, and a devolving immorality standing between them and destruction.

History

Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff, co-authors of The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation won for their riveting account of the best that American journalism used to be, when reporters dug out the truth and brought to light wrongs that needed to be righted.

Biography or Autobiography

Debby Applegate wrote The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s brother, Henry, was a powerful minister, abolitionist, and intellectual who gripped the public’s interest as much for his beliefs as for his weakness for women.

General Non-Fiction

Lawrence Wright, for The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. Stunning, carefully researched masterpiece that highlight’s one desperate FBI agent’s desperate race to stop 9/11 before it happened.

Kurt Vonnegut, 1922-2007

Kurt Vonnegut, 1922-2007Kurt Vonnegut, 1922-2007

Kurt Vonnegut, the unofficial grandfather of the unofficial ‘disruptive group’ of 1970s literary mavericks, such as Richard Brautigan, Jerzy Kosinski, and Donald Barthelme, died April 11, 2007, from complications of a brain injury due to a fall.

Author of fourteen novels (Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; or, Pearls before Swine (1965), and Mother Night (1961), to name a few), Vonnegut used his experience as a WWII prisoner of war and his disdain for modern society's blind devotion to technology to craft novels that were a wholly unique blend of science fiction, fantasy, and sheer raw vision.

Vonnegut was 84.

Vonnegut factoid

The complete official title for Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Slaughterhouse Five, is:

Slaughterhouse Five; or, The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., a Fourth-Generation German-American Now Living in Easy Circumstances on Cae Cod (and Smoking Too Much) Who, as an American Infantry Scout Hors de Combat, as a Prisoner of War, Witnessed the Fire-Bombing of Dresden, Germany, the Florence of the Elbe, a Long Time Ago, and Survived to Tell the Tale: This Is a Novel Somewhat in the Telegraphic Schizophrenic Manner of Tales of the Planet Tralfamadore, Where the Flying Saucers Come From

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #59

Set in a poor and crime infested housing estate in Nottingham, England, The Killing Jar* by first-time novelist Nicola Monaghan is a compelling read and recipient of several literary awards.

Young Kerrie-Ann Hill was abandoned (by a drugged-out prostitute mother), abused (by a teacher), coerced into running drugs at nine, and graduated to violent crimes as a sly and ruthless teenager.
Amidst the ugliness were moments of joy like an old neighbor who taught her about butterflies (and the killing jar), caring for her younger brother, and first loves.
Unapologetically realistic and bleak, the portrayal of the drug culture in urban England is spot on, while fiesty Kerrie-Ann as the flawed heroine will earn your respect and sympathy.

Nicola Monaghan grew up at Broxtowe, the same council estate she set The Killing Jar. She is the first person in her family to go to university, and is currently at work on her second novel Starfishin, about a woman working hard to fit into the edgy London lifestyle.

* = Starred Reviews

Two Nobel Prize Laureates born April 15

Today is the birthday of two Irish literary stars, poet Seamus Heany and playwright, novelist, Samuel Beckett. Heaney was born in 1939 in Mossbaum, Northern Ireland, the oldest of nine siblings. His poetry is infused with images from his rural background. His father was a cattle dealer and Heaney grew up in a three room thatched farmhouse. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. A poem in tribute to the hard working hands of his father and granfather, "Digging," contains the lines:

"The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them."

New Fiction on the New York Times Best Sellers List (4/8/07)

Tracy Chevalier has carved out a unique and narrow fictional genre for herself. She may never duplicate the enormous critical (and monetary) success of Girl with a Pearl Earring but she continues to write popular books about other artists. Her latest, Burning Bright, features William Blake, the English poet and visionary, famous for:

"Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"

Some readers may be disappointed, however, at the minor role he plays in the novel. For others the magic of eighteenth century London and the charming story about Blake's fictional neighbors has been enough to put it on the List at #12.

The only other entry is For a Few Demons More by Kim Harrison. This fantasy novelist also writes in a specific sub-genre labeled "sexy supernaturalism".

African Lit 101

Interested in African literature (that is, novels by people from Africa about people in Africa)? The following should get you started:

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)
Xala by Ousmane Sembène (Senegal)
A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong'o (Kenya)
The House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera (Zimbabwe/Rhodesia)
Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera (Zimbabwe)
A Sleepwalking Land by Mia Couto (Mozambique)
The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah (Ghana)
The Famished Road by Ben Okri (Nigeria)

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